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A Coach Approach to Disciple-Making by Cheryl Baker

Apr 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching and Discipleship

bakermedRecently I have been asking Christian adults if they have any life goals and would they mind telling me what some of them are. This was not a test; it was just out of my curiosity as a coach that I asked the question.  Many graciously obliged, but I was surprised to find that only a couple included the goal of disciple-making. In wondering about such deficiency in discipleship, it was easy to deduct why thismight be so.  It takes confidence, motivation, intentionality, and knowing where to start to become a disciple-maker. We also need to remind ourselves; since we often stay so busy we forget that we have something so vital and life-giving to give away as the gospel message and life with Christ.  Another thing I believe contributes to lack of personal disciple-making is the fact that many Christians were never personally discipled themselves and have no real-time model to follow. This article is about using one simple coaching principle to break this cycle of discipleship deficiency.

Disciple-making is the last command Jesus gave before leaving the earth. In the Great Commission, He left clear instructions – go, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to observe all that I commanded you. Then along with this command, He gave an unbelievable promise, “Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” (see Matthew 28:18-20)  When we stop to think about this – it is mind boggling, that Jesus would delegate the task of making disciples to us. What a privilege!

One definition of disciple-making is

“laboring in the lives of a few with the intention of imparting one’s life, God’s word, and the gospel in such a way that they become mature and equipped followers of Christ, committed to doing the same in the lives of others.”

In other words, disciple-making is the process of taking a person from being an unbeliever to becoming a motivated, reproducing, fully devoted follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Disciple-making is not just for church staff, officers or public super Christians, it is for every normal believer. And we don’t do it alone, Jesus, the Master Discipler has promised to be with us always.

A Coaching Principle

What is the one principle of coaching that will break the discipleship deficit? First, what is a coach? One of the many definitions of a coach is “a change agent.” A coach is a change agent in that they help others to discover truths and incorporate them into their lives by asking good questions.  Good, thought- provoking questions help people think, reflect, research and discover on their own, rather then having the coach tell them what to believe or do. The coach approach to disciplemaking basically boils down to this –

having the heart of Christ for others and desiring to help them grow by using the principle of “ask don’t tell”. 

By the way, in the coach approach to disciple-making, you walk with another as a “change agent” because you are a little farther along in your spiritual journey than they are.

The Essentials First

First things first, there are essential truths that those God gives to you to disciple need to know. 1) There is a God, 2) all men are sinners 3) the Son of God died upon the cross too make atonement for the guilty 4) that whosoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved and belong to Him forever.  This is the gospel message and it must be clearly told and understood. Next your disciplees begin to discover on their own more about their salvation and the Christian life by looking for answers in the Bible, your life, coach-able (teachable) moments, and your questions. These things – the word of God, His life, teachable moments and questions are the things Jesus used to disciple the twelve.

Like coaching, disciple-making is highly relational rather than an academic relationship. As you get to know one another, enter their world with interview typewomenconversing questions and make sure they get to know you as well. After getting to know one another and establishing a discipling relationship, your next step is to pray and plan a progression of growth steps to take with your disciplees.  Some of the basics that every growing Christian should know about are – prayer, the Bible, fellowship, church membership, service, stewardship, marriage, suffering, Holy Spirit, and evangelism.  There are several prepared guides to help you put together a growth plan, if you need it.

Ask, Don’t Tell

To give you an idea of how a coach approach to disciple-making works, below are some sample questions.  You could start with these; then it is well worth the time to develop your own thought-provoking questions tailored to your disciplee’s needs. (This is when you will rely on your partnership with the Holy Spirit. Another privilege!)

General Questions

  • How would you describe your relationship with God?
  • What is one word that describes your life before Christ? Explain that word.
  • What is one word that describes your life after meeting Christ? Explain.
  • On a 1-10 scale, how motivated are you to pursue spiritual development?
  • What is the biggest question about the Christian life do you have?
  • What are you doing now to pursue spiritual growth?
  • What things do you think you need to do to help you grow as a Christian?

Bible and Prayer Questions

  • How much Bible knowledge would you say you have? 
  • How much would you like to have?
  • What time of day will you do your Bible reading and study?
  • How much time will you spend reading and studying the Bible?
  • How could memorizing verses of scripture benefit you personally?
  • What does prayer mean to you?
  • What does the Bible say about prayer? (With questions like this, you encourage them to get in the Bible and report back to you what they learned.)
  • What answers to prayer have you or someone you know experienced?

Fellowship and Service Questions

  • Which Christian activity would you love to be a part of?
  • What keeps you from being involved in that activity?
  • How important is it to be with other Christians regularly?
  • What areas of service would you like to be involved in at church?
  • What gifts do you think God has given to you?
  • What do you think you could offer to the Christian community?
  • What do you think you could offer to the non-Christian community?
  • What would you like to accomplish as a Christian?

Disciple-making Questions

  • Explain how you would tell someone what it means to become a Christian?
  • How would you tell your conversion story?
  • How would you tell the gospel message? 
  • Who could you share your faith message with?

As you can see the coach approach to disciple-making has an agenda and a goal.  And that is to walk with others, as they become a motivated, reproducing, fully devoted followers of Christ.  Can you think of anything more thrilling than coaching someone to the discovery of who Jesus is or to a deeper, richer relationship with Him.  May I ask you a question, what are your life goals?

Cheryl Baker


This is the definition of Life on Life Discipleship used by Perimeter Church in Atlanta.
Discipleship Essentials by Greg Ogden
The Journey discipleship curriculum available online from Perimeter Church
The Navigators has several resources available at bookstores or online
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