Randy Pope of Perimeter Church in Atlanta has created a three year discipleship curriculum titled The Journey. An outline, orientation and sample study of The Journeyis available online. Pope’s curriculum is non-sequential and accessible to indefinite repetition. The content impresses discipleship under an acronym format of “T-E-A-M-S”:
- Truth – make them engage truth from the text for themselves.
- Equipping – massaging truth until it becomes understandable and usable.
- Accountability – ask them tough questions and address bad behaviors without promoting behaviorism.
- Mission – get them into the lives of others. Do it with them.
- Supplication – pray for them and with them.
Each group is ideally composed of 2 Apprentices, 2 Veterans, and 2-4 Rookies. The Rookies are first year participants that soak the discipleship. You’re only allowed to return for year two as an Apprentice if you bring 2 Rookies of your own. Veterans share in the leadership on year three, and then take their own cluster of Rookies, Apprentices, and Veterans with them on year four to start their own group.
Pope allows for some flexibility in the structure knowing that some groups can reproduce early, and some people will never be able to lead group. For someone to lead discipleship of another, Pope demands they have: 1) A suitable life product – they have significant recovery from sin. 2) Intentionality in imparting the life product specifically to persons. 3) Do the right things to impart that life product.
As a second reference to curriculum based discipleship models, Steve Sonderman of Elmbrook Church has created a comprehensive curriculum titled Soul Purpose. Implementation variations from Pope’s model include a 2 year format, a closed door to new participants, daily devotional homework instead of weekly, and the absence of a definitive objective for each participant to repeat and lead the curriculum.
Praises: If The Journey in fact brings movement/action under each point of “T-E-A-M-S,” curriculum based models could be a huge win. Curriculum could bring comprehensiveness. You cannot dodge any key discipleship issues with reluctance if it is scheduled.
The Veteran-Apprentice-Rookie format is also favorable in that it forces multiplication. It allows, even demands, that people to be brought in at any time, yet also forces them to go out and do it for someone else in a reasonable time frame.
Critique: Scheduled curriculum is destined to fail the discipleship needs of the moment. What if you’re going through a crisis now but the topic of suffering is not scheduled for another year? I am still hesitant about the tendency of curriculums to educate instead of mobilize – but maybe everything changes based on how a leader uses the material.