Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Robert A Gowins


Discipleship, Jesus, Ministry, Strategy


Biblical Studies | Comparative Methodologies and Theories | History of Christianity | Religion


Many newly planted and existing churches in America have difficulty developing a discipleship culture. They focus on weekly worship gatherings and Bible Study classes. Gathering for worship and Bible Study is needed and right, but when this is the only activity, discipleship and a holistic healthy church culture is not occurring. Unfortunately, many churches engage in a consumer-driven culture with people unwilling to be in a sacrificial discipleship process for the Gospel’s sake. Jesus had four primary strategies for developing disciples. They are the gathered strategy, the small group strategy, the mentoring strategy and the sending strategy. Each is part of a holistic and balanced approach to discipleship in a non-Christian culture. For example, Jesus gathered larger groups for teaching. The small group strategy found Jesus spending time with the disciples and others for a purposeful and for God’s Kingdom. Mentoring happened when Jesus engaged in life on life discipleship moments with a smaller group of disciples. Jesus and the early church sent out his disciples to engage in Kingdom work. Each strategy develops holistic disciples. Churches that seek to fulfill their mission should be compelled to take an honest look at their discipleship culture and adjust strategies accordingly. This project will demonstrate that numerical growth and church health occur more often with those churches that implement Jesus’ four strategies. Those that are not implementing them are stagnant. With the numerical decline and closure of churches, stagnation is not desirable and implementing discipleship strategies is part of the answer for twenty-first century churches.