Virginia asked me to speak to the issue of “Sunday school or Bible study.   We are an aged congregation and for the most part have spent years in Sunday school or Bible study how or why does the church still continue with them?”

If you would allow me to reframe the question….how do we do discipleship in this post-Christian culture?

From a historical reference, Sunday School, Bible Study, Youth Group, Quiz Team etc. were part of the Free Methodist heritage.  They served a purpose.  In some cases they were very beneficial and helpful.  In other, not so much.  I would suggest, the historical view of these types of discipleship will not be effective moving forward.

Cultural – here and now – I would suggest that the most effective form of discipleship will be groups of three doing committed discipleship together.  I call them TRIADS.  This is not my unique idea.  However, I understand and accept that TRIADS are the current most effective way to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

TRIADS:

  • They are gender specific (men Triads, women Triads)
  • They covenant to a specific process and timeframe (If someone does not want to commit, they share it and step away.  No one looks at them negatively.  And the others time is not wasted reviewing what was already reviewed / discussed / learned.)
  • The process includes:
    • Meeting weekly at a predetermined time and location for at least 1 hour.
    • Praying for each other in the TRIAD, their families, the community of faith, the leadershp of the community of faith during the week and during the TRIAD gathering.
    • Pray for three people who do not know Jesus, that the members sense the Holy Spirit is leading them to invite into a TRIAD.
    • Read one (1) or two (2) chapter/s of a specific book of the Bible daily for the week.
    • Review and discuss what the chapter/s says to the TRIAD.
    • Review and discuss what the Holy Spirt is saying to each member.
    • Ask the question, “How are you doing Spiritually this week?”
    • Ask the question, “How is your family / relationship life doing?”
    • The TRIAD is shared leadership.  Each week a difference member leads the process.  This is intentionally developing leadership 
  • After a period of nine (9) to twelve (12) months the TRIAD will multiple into three TRIADS.  One original TRIAD member adds two (2) new TRIAD members.
  • This is the heart of multiplication – disciples making disciples who make disciples
  • TRIAD members participate in four (4) community of faith TRIAD events in which we celebrate a life of discipleship together and learn what it means to walk in faith in a broader connected way.

I am not saying we don’t do programs or events that help the church achieve the mission (making disciples) and vision (specific to our community of faith).  What I am saying is our primary focus is on disciples make disciples who make disciples (TRIADS).

This requires us to be vulnerable with each other.  It requires us to do discipleship that will be culturally relevant.

It, as I have often said, requires us to unlearn much of what we have learned.  It means that we learn new ways of disciplemaking.

Matthew 28:19–20 (NAS): 

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18–20 (The Message): 

18–20  Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”