Discipleship vs. Disciplemaking

Discipleship is helping a believer mature. But disciplemaking is much bigger. It involves winning the lost for Christ, building believers up, equipping workers to do ministry, and multiplying proven leaders. Many ministries do some form of discipleship, but we focus on disciplemaking, which has a much larger scope. That has made all the difference.

Jesus’ Methodology

By studying the life of Christ chronologically using a Harmony of the Gospels (Robert Thomas and Thomas Gundry) you can see that Jesus had a ministry strategy. His work can be divided into 5 distinct phases. And for each phase, he had very different priorities. Taken together, this is a model for doing ministry in a way that doesn’t just produce converts or disciples, it launches disciplemaking movements.

One Indian theologian wrote this: “The Harmony of the Gospels is a huge scholarly work. This has been simplified for education in the church, and several study materials have been derived from it. Kingdom Rain has converted this material into a 15-day training program covering the four gospels, requiring just three days for each phase of Christ’s ministry.”

Our strategy is three-fold:

We equip leaders on location over a two-year period, taking them phase-by-phase through the process Jesus modeled for building a disciplemaking movement.
We surface key national leaders and encourage and support them to implement Jesus’ disciplemaking strategy.
Our plan is NOT to create a cohort of leaders that depend on us indefinitely for resources and support. Instead, we challenge them to own, lead, and sustain the movement themselves.

The Communication Challenge

Cross-cultural leadership training must address several barriers.

Cultural Barrier

We must avoid exporting the assumptions and methods of our culture.

Language Barrier

We must learn to communicate effectively to people of different languages and dialects.

Educational Barrier

We must adapt our training to a broad spectrum of learning styles and educational backgrounds.

Abstraction Barrier

We must communicate abstract concepts in concrete, culturally informed, and memorable ways.

Rote Learning Barrier

We must teach so that knowledge goes from the head to the heart and out to the hands.

Weak Solutions

There are many well-intentioned but unsuccessful attempts to train leaders cross-culturally.

  • Talking Head
    The one-way communication model does not allow for interaction and self-discovery.
  • Fire Hose
    The more-is-better approach lacks time for reflection and application.
  • Flash in the Pan
    The make-it-up-as-you-go approach momentarily inspires but fails to transfer or reproduce.
  • Parachute Jumper
    The parachute-in-from-time-to-time approach lacks continuity of support, leading to unsustained results.

Effective Solution

A close look at Christ’s life reveals the teaching methods he used.

  • Learner-Centered
    Jesus asked provoking questions that prompted self-discovery.
  • Interactive
    He involved the disciples in ministry and took time for debriefing.
  • Practical & Memorable
    He turned everyday experiences into stories and teachable moments.
  • Relational
    He mentored those he taught, providing an up-close example they could follow.

Training: Curriculum in 5 Phases

Jesus modeled an intentional strategy for building a movement of disciples who make disciples. We’ve designed a training module for each phase of his ministry. Each module guides leaders chronologically through the events of Jesus’ life, helping them discover the priorities he demonstrated.

“This simple, graphic approach is so effective that it can even be taught across cultures to illiterates.” —pastor in India

Key Features

Based on 19 years of leadership training in Asia and field tested with over 25 people groups
Encourages leaders to walk as Jesus walked in his character, methods, and priorities
Focuses not just on getting converts but on making disciples who make disciples
Crosses cultural, racial, educational, and linguistic barriers


In each phase Jesus introduces new priorities. Leaders identify those priorities as they study his life. Then they apply these priorities in their own ministries as they go through each phase. Each priority is illustrated with symbols.

Interactive Training

Our goal is not just information transfer. To effectively reach a culture we must first reach a disciple’s head, heart, and hands. The curriculum uses a variety of training methods:

  • Nationals create songs that make training memorable
  • Video segments bring biblical narrative to life
  • Hand motions aid retention
  • Discussion encourages community
  • Writing and storytelling deepen the learning
  • Leaders practice building teaching skills