“Thanks! Good job. Well done, good and faithful servant.”
These are precious words faithful servants of Christ will hear at His Judgment Seat (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Can you imagine the joy these sinners saved by grace will know at His coming? Faithful believers, those Christians who do what He says, will hear their Savior say, “Thanks. You pleased me in this.” That is grace upon grace. Saved by grace, empowered by grace, and then rewarded…in grace!
Congratulations. You have just made a decision that will move you toward that goal. You are following the Master’s plan—one friend telling another friend about Christ. The strategy is simple. Paul put it this way in his second letter to his friend, Timothy:
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).
I hope you see this as a labor of love. As you guide a friend or group through these materials only your love for Christ and the dear ones He died for will sustain you. Discipling or mentoring is hard work. After stating the basic strategy Paul is quick to remind Timothy of what it will cost.
You must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).
This is warfare, spiritual warfare. You can be sure that Jesus’ enemy, Satan, is set against you. Every distraction, discouragement, and disappointment will be thrown your way. The devil will use anything to stop you from launching a new believer into a life of eternal significance as a disciple of the Master.
So, count the cost before you begin. Spend some time right now telling God you are ready for the battle. Ask Him to anoint you with His power, encourage you through His word, and give you the strength to finish what you begin. Tell Him you won’t quit.
Whether you call it discipleship or mentoring, you just cannot improve upon the Master’s plan. And He will not forget your obedience. You will hear Him say, “Thank you.”
For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints and do minister (Hebrews 6:10).
Encouraged by your obedience,
Author, Beginning In Grace, Pastor, Church of the Open Door
—Beginning in Grace —
Guiding Others through Beginning in Grace
Warning: Do Not Skip to Lesson One!
Right now you are wondering whether you should take the time to read through all the introductory material. You just want to get at it! Please, do not skip this section. These principles for success are vital. Read them carefully and prayerfully. Remember, you are going to be telling another person about the Lord Jesus Christ. You owe it to your disciple to be thoroughly prepared.
Focus on Relationship, Emphasize Grace
The two most important questions for you, the leader will be: Where are we going with this? And, how will we get there? Two words should dominate your thoughts as you guide a friend or group through Beginning in Grace—relationship and grace.
These materials are designed to take someone “from the streets” to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Notice the word relationship. That word, relationship, is the key to understanding the uniqueness and the overarching purpose of these lessons. Your goal is clear: To guide your friend or group to a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus.
Over the years I have used various approaches to discipleship with some success. But too often I felt I was sharing cold truths about a warm Savior. What was missing? I was teaching truths about the Christian life, about Christ, about God,about the Bible. But what is Christianity about? What is the Bible about? What is eternal life about? Eternal life is receiving the life of God and sharing that life with Him forever. It’s all about relationship. After all, Christianity is indeed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Relationship Integrates Biblical Truth
Relationship integrates biblical truth. Every doctrine, every story, every truth is designed to draw us into a closer relationship with Christ and others. So each lesson moves the students that way—closer to Christ and others.
The best way you can encourage your friends in this process is to be relational. Guard against hypocrisy. If you become the person with all the answers, the one who has it all together, it’s over. Show them that you too are struggling with real life issues but finding comfort and joy in your relationship with Christ. They need to know that they can trust you. We trust people who are open, honest, and authentic.
Now consider where you are going. Your goal is remarkable—to draw your friends into a closer relationship with the Lord Jesus. More than remarkable, your goal is supernatural! You cannot do this on your own. The only way you will reach your goal is the same way you received eternal life and grew in your Christian life—by grace. Only God’s Spirit can move a heart closer to Christ.
Grace Stimulates Christian Growth
Grace stimulates Christian growth. Every sin forsaken, every step of obedience, every truth grasped, every attitude changed, every hurt healed is the result of God’s grace. So each move closer to Christ has to happen in this way—by grace, through faith. Spiritual growth requires an atmosphere of grace.
The best way you can provide a healthy atmosphere of grace is to be gracious. If you want to be a shepherd you have to learn to tolerate the smell of sheep. Show them the love of Christ. This does not mean you condone irresponsibility or sin. You can be Christlike in your correction. Growth requires change, but grace patiently understands that spiritual growth comes slowly and sometimes painfully.
Focus On Relationship
Be their friend; show them Christ’s unconditional love. Emphasize grace. Be kind; stay out of the way and let God’s Spirit work.
Get a Commitment, Monitor Capacity
Commitment and capacity require constant attention. Without commitment this process stalls. This requires balance and discernment from God’s Spirit. Asking for too much or moving too quickly will overwhelm and discourage those who need extra care. Asking for too little or moving too slowly will bore and frustrate those who are on fire to become disciplemakers.
Ask for commitment up front. During your first meeting, be sure your student or group agrees to:
- Complete the study of the Beginning in Grace workbook each week before the session.
- Memorize the verses for each week before the session.
- Memorize the complete set of verses by the end of the sessions.
- Pray daily for you and the needs you discuss together.
- Participate openly and honestly in each session.
- Keep confidential any personal matters shared during your sessions.
Every disciple is different. Attitude is more important than performance. When people sincerely try, exercise grace. Stay alert for these signs of discouragement:
- Limited reading and writing skills: You may need to stretch the lessons out. Be sensitive to those who either cannot read or struggle with English. Adjust your expectations accordingly. Cover only one or two sections of the lesson each week. Just make sure you agree upon how much you will complete weekly.
- Personal trauma: Never press for completion of the lesson with a hurting or sinning believer. Get involved in their life so that you know what is going on. Stress, heartache or guilt will distract even the most committed. Put the lesson on hold and give them the personal attention they need.
- “Inability to memorize” Many adults are convinced that they can no longer remember long sentences. This is absurd, but they really believe it. You need to show them how to break a sentence down into smaller parts, memorizing each part before putting the entire phrase together. The key to memorization is review. Encourage them to use the review sheet.
- Miscalculation: Each course is designed to take about four hours of preparation a week. One hour a day for four days is ample time for most people. This leaves three days to make up for days missed. Still, some will make the commitment only to find that life is just too busy right now. Don’t force it. Give them a way out so that you can pursue the course later. Be careful not to drive them away from the process of discipleship.
Come Prepared, Teach with Excellence
So much depends on your preparation. As the teacher or guide you need to take responsibility for each lesson. It is not their responsibility to “get it.” It is your responsibility to cause them to learn. Remember, you teach these lessons for the Savior. He deserves our very best. Whether you are a seasoned teacher with vast experience or a novice, a few simple principles will give your students the best opportunity to learn these life-changing truths:
- Pray for your students daily. Make sure they know that you are praying for their needs daily. One need every student has in common is the need to learn from God’s Spirit through these materials and to draw closer to His Son. Ask God to give them discipline and discernment each day. Carry with you a 3×5 card with your students’ specific requests and pray for them throughout the day.
- Know the material. Your confidence will put your students at ease. This does not mean that you have all the answers. It simply demonstrates that you have gained insight from interaction and personal experiences with the Word of God.
- Memorize and repeat the “irreducible minimum.” Each lesson closes with a central truth. This is what educators call the “irreducible minimum.” The irreducible minimum draws together the entire lesson, stating it in one sentence. Memorizing the central truth of each lesson will give you confidence. Repeating this irreducible minimum throughout the lesson drives the central truth deeper into the soul of the students.
- Talk about your life. Illustrations of the truth help us picture how it works. As you prepare, think of personal stories of how this works in your life. Your students will remember your stories far longer than they remember your principles.
- Be honest. Here is a truth that cannot be denied: You cannot know what you don’t know! If you do not know the answer to a question, tell them, “I’m not an expert. I am just excited about my relationship with Christ. I really do not know the answer.” Students appreciate humble honesty. Pride-driven bluffing turns everyone off. More mature Christians in your church will know the answer. Ask them for help.
- Know the memory verses letter perfect. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). If you take the memory work lightly so will your students. The six selected passages summarize the irreducible minimum of each lesson. This enhances the learning experience greatly. More than that, these verses are the very words God inspired on these subjects. The Holy Spirit uses these words from the heart of God to change the hearts of men and women. Do the memory work.
Name the Time and Place
Each lesson involves four hours of work for your students. You need to schedule adequate time to review the lesson. For most people, 90 minutes is sufficient. When you teach a group of two or more you may need to set aside two hours. (See group work below)
You need a meeting time that is realistic and a place that is quiet. Uninterrupted time together is your highest priority when deciding on a time and place. This is your opportunity to pray and talk about the most important issues in life. Be sure your place is free from distractions such as a ringing telephone, children under foot, or drop-in visitors.
Schedule your time together on a weekly basis if at all possible. Agree on the time and commit to treating this as you would any important appointment. Make sure there is no confusion concerning the time and place. Every lesson closes with a box to fill in the exact time and place you will be meeting next week. Call to remind your disciple of the first meeting.
Start on time; stay on track; end on time
You must take responsibility for time. Your disciple expects you to lead. Excellence demands time management.
A good lesson starts on time!
You should arrive early to provide for the usual “small talk.” Be clear that you will begin on time. This is especially true with group studies. If you wait for the latecomers they will just show up that much later. This frustrates those who arrive on time.
A good lesson stays on track!
Ninety minutes will fly by…and fly away if you are not organized. Here is a suggested “typical session” lasting from 7:00-8:30
WELCOME – 7:00-7:05 (5 Minutes) Take some time to “warm up” the conversation and get settled. Ask if there is any reason your student is not prepared to do the lesson. Be careful! Every minute you waste here will be lost at the end.
MEMORY VERSES AND REVIEW – 7:05-7:15 (10 Minutes) Most people will not be able to concentrate until they have recited their memory verses. Begin with this week’s verses, then last week’s memory work, then the week before until you are reviewing the first week’s verses. Finally, using the review sheets provided, review the entire course up to now. Make sure you point out the purposeful progression of the lessons to draw them closer to Christ.
DISCUSS THE LESSON – 7:15-8:10 (55 Minutes) Check your student’s workbook. Highlight any unanswered questions for discussion. If there are too many blank spaces you need to find out why. It may be that your student is thoroughly confused. This means you will have to slow the pace.
- Overview (3 Minutes): The first page of each lesson begins with a highlighted OVERVIEW of the three principles that build the lesson. Pre-teach the truth by reading aloud the three principles. Ask leading and general questions to determine how well your student understood the concepts. “Do you see how these three truths fit together?” “Which one of these did you find most difficult?” “Did this make sense to you?”
- Introduction (10 Minutes): The first few pages should surface the need the lesson meets. Monitor these closely. Your student’s response to the opening questions will give you insight into where they really are in relation to this truth. The Bible will be your guide section is designed to make them more familiar with the Bible. You may want to ask them, “Are you feeling more comfortable finding your way around the Bible?” You may want to ask some specific review questions for those who are catching on quickly. “This week we found that the Old Testament is divided into three types of books. What are they?” Always discuss the Talking to God closing of each section. Ask how it went when they prayed about this need in their life. One of your highest priorities is to get them talking to God about their lives.
- Body (30 Minutes): One chapter is dedicated to each of the three main principles. Be sure to orient them to these principles when reviewing each lesson. “We just finished studying the biblical proof that
God loves you, now we will look at the biblical evidence that proves that God wants to give you His
life, eternal life” Briefly overview each section by reading the bold titles. Then, review the principle. Discuss any questions your student may have. Check their understanding by asking a few questions of your own. You may want to read aloud the let’s review paragraphs ending each section. These words
carefully restate the study in a few sentences. Keep in mind that review is the “mother of all learning!” You simply cannot review too much.
- Conclusion (10 Minutes): This is where the action is—where the truth gets worked into life. Be careful not to get so involved in teaching that you forget your purpose—to change a life! Allow at least ten minutes for this section. Quickly review the three principles and state the central truth. Then, go through the closing questions with them one at a time. Do they understand the central truth of this lesson? Have they applied this truth to their lives? Close by completing the Review Sheet box for that lesson on page 86:
Subject: How to have a relationship with God.
Memory Verse: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Central Truth: You can have a relationship with God by believing in Jesus Christ His Son.
- Prepare for Next Time (2 Minutes): Write down your next meeting time and the exact assignment, including the memory verse. If your student is having trouble with the lessons, tailor the next assignment to his or her capacity. “This is pretty deep. Let’s just cover pages 30-35 next time.” Or, “I don’t feel we are quite comfortable with this lesson yet. Why not go over the same material again for next week? This time through, pay special attention to the questions you found so confusing. Hopefully our time together today has given you some insight.”
SHARING AND PRAYER – 8:10-8:30 Talk about your life first. Share a real prayer request with your student. “My wife and I seem to be arguing a lot lately. Would you put us on your prayer list?” Or, “I’m feeling a little insecure at work right now. My supervisor seems to be avoiding me. Would you mind praying for me this week? I’m asking God to give me just the right opportunity to talk with him.” You need to open up first. Remember, Christianity is for real people. Be real.
Ask for their prayer requests. You should not expect transparent openness the first few sessions. As you earn their trust, they will open up.
Write down your prayer requests on the prayer sheet in the back of the book. Be sure to monitor how God has answered prayers over the weeks.
Question: What if our sharing time surfaces a hurt or a problem we need to talk about in depth? Schedule your next meeting to discuss and pray for this personal need. Then spend some time researching the need before your next meeting. If your next meeting does not help your student enough to move on with Beginning in Grace you probably need help. Call your mentor or pastor for guidance. It may be that you will need to refer your disciple to a good Christian counselor.
A good lesson ends on time!
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. When your time is up…stop! No matter how interesting the discussion
—Beginning in Grace—
is…stop! Your student may feel like he or she really wants to continue, but you want them to come back next week. When they know they can trust you with the time they will come back. A meeting that is so exciting you do not want to quit is the best possible experience your student can have. A meeting that never ends, never brings people back.
“Review, review,” and again I say, “Review!”
Review is the mother of all learning. You simply cannot review too much. This is why memorizing the irreducible minimum and the verse is so critical. As you memorize your mind dwells on the central truths. You can then insert these bullets throughout your time with your student.
Each lesson is sprinkled with review sections. Sometimes we feel like we are repeating ourselves too much. You cannot repeat yourself too much. Make sure you spend time on these reviews. Read them aloud whenever possible.
Review the Central Truths of every completed lesson each week. This keeps the “big picture” in front of your student. The lessons move toward our goal of drawing us closer to the Lord Jesus. Show them this progression using the review sheets provided. Fill in the blanks each week as you add a lesson.
Stay in contact
Emphasize relationship. Remember, this is more than a study course. This is one friend telling another friend about Jesus Christ. I recommend three “contact” goals as a minimum:
- Weekly contact—encouragement. A phone call each week will encourage your new friend tremendously. “Any problems with the lesson I could help you with?” “I’m praying for your problem, any progress this week?” “How is God showing Himself strong for you this week?”
- Contact their world—the visit. People love to share their life. One time during the six weeks arrange to meet them where they work. “I just want to see you in your everyday life so that I can pray more effectively for you. Mind if I come by, tour your office and then take you to lunch?” And when you meet leave your agenda behind. You do a lot of talking every time you meet to discuss the lessons. This time you meet, you listen…a lot!
- Future contact—graduation dinner. When your disciple finishes the course, have a graduation dinner at your house. If married, invite the spouse too. Tell them how much you appreciate their hard work and their friendship. Make sure they know that you still want to be there for them. Discipleship is an ongoing commitment. It doesn’t end with the last lesson. Buy them a special gift to help them grow like a favorite Christian book or a Bible.
Sell the vision—a ministry of multiplication
From the very beginning emphasize your expectation that your student will become a teacher, a disciplemaker. “When you show this verse to your friends, be sure to point out this word.” “How are you going to explain this to a newer believer when you teach this?” Build on this expectation by encouraging them to:
- See the potential. Ask them to calculate the potential of their life if they dedicate themselves to a ministry of multiplication. Say this sentence over and over again: Two a year is all I ask. Then explain: “If you disciple two people this year and encourage each of them to reach two people per year and so on, how many people will you reach the first year? The second, third, fourth, tenth…?” The impact is of course staggering. 2, 8, 22…thousands can be reached effectively if we will follow the Master’s Plan.
- Begin praying immediately. During your first lesson ask them to begin praying for a friend to take through these materials. They should pray for this friend by name. If they cannot think of someone, tell them to simply pray for somebody they do not even know yet. You will be amazed at how quickly God will bring them someone to disciple.
- Solo early. Help them find someone to take through the lessons as early as possible. The best way to learn any truth is to teach it. Early success with disciplemaking leads to a lifetime addiction! Remember, nobody ever feels “ready.” Discipling is like getting used to cold water. The best way is to jump in. Of course you are going to jump in with them!
Do it again
Always be on the lookout for a new disciple. Be aggressive for Christ. Never stop praying for a new person to draw closer to Christ. While you teach one, ask another, and another, and another. The most successful disciplers pursue every lead to experience the joy of seeing another friend walk with the Savior.
Beginning in Grace works well in small groups if you plan for the uniqueness of the lessons. Since Beginning in Grace is intensive and demanding, most people will need personalized care and guidance. However, a seasoned and mature believer can lead a small group through the course. Here are some guidelines:
- Apprentices: These are students with more capacity because of prior training or Christian experience. We recommend an apprentice for every two students. The leader should prepare the apprentices before the sessions.
- Schedule: In each session the leader presents an overview of the lesson first. Then the group breaks down into 3-person teams led by the apprentices. Finally, the group meets again to review, share, ask questions, and receive next week’s assignment.
Graduation: The adventure is just beginning!
The closing pages of Beginning in Grace encourage your disciple to take the step of baptism. This will raise many questions. You will find an overview of the ordinances of the church in the Appendix that should help you explain why baptism is an important commitment for every believer.
How to Have a Relationship with God
RELATING TO GOD WILL BE RADICALY DIFFERENT
Preparing to teach Lesson 1
How do the three bullets in the overview fit with the purpose of the lesson?
Be sure that you can think through the logical sequence of the three bullets:
- God loves you
- God wants to give you his life, eternal life
- You can know that you have eternal life
Central Truth of Lesson One:
You can have a relationship with God by believing in Jesus Christ His Son.
How does this central truth relate to the three bullets in the overview?
How does the memory passage, Ephesians 2:8-9 relate to the central truth?
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
How does it relate to the three bullets in the overview?
Review the audio tape, “How to teach Lesson 1.” If you still have questions, call the person who taught you Lesson 1 for help.
Pray for your student very specifically asking God to use these materials to persuade your student to trust Christ and, having trusted Christ, that he/she has assurance of salvation.
Teaching Lesson 1
Relating To God Will Be Radically Different: This introductory section points out the difference between God and us, especially the way we relate. This will be extremely important for most people. Those whose trust has been violated by loved ones need to know God is different. Try to think of a relationship in life that has been disappointing to you. Sharing your personal pain will encourage your student’s transparency. Make sure your student has been able to find John 3:16 (p 3) and has recorded their feelings after talking to God (p 3).
God Invites You To Receive His Life: Point out how the body of the lesson develops. This is a good opportunity to once again review the three main bullets, the memory verse, and the central idea.
Amazing Love—God loves you (pp 4-5). Your student must understand that eternal life is free to us but costly to God. His Son gave His life so that we might live. This is unconditional love. When you read the review section (p 5) read the last paragraph as a bridge or a transition to the next lesson.
All Who Believe Receive—God wants to give you His life—eternal life (pp 6-7). This is the most eternally important section in the book. The review section on page 7 will help you explain the transaction of eternal life. Do not assume your student is a Christian just because they know a lot about the Bible or seem comfortable with church culture. Only those who believe receive eternal life! Be prepared to share the Gospel clearly and confidently. Your training from chapter 5, Telling Others How to Have a Relationship with Christ, will be invaluable here. Review the tract, Four Fantastic Facts and make sure you are ready to take your student through the material if he or she still hesitates to believe.
It’s Yours Forever—You can know you have eternal life (pp8-9). Eternal security and assurance of salvation are not the same. Eternal security is the work of God which guarantees that the gift of salvation, once received, is forever and can never be lost. Assurance is the realization that one possesses eternal life. When your student believed they were eternally secure. That is God’s promise and He cannot lie. But do they know they are secure? The purpose of this section is to help the already secure believer understand and rejoice in their security. Lack of assurance brings unnecessary but terrible doubt and trauma into a believer’s life. So take them through the three passage: John 10:26-30, Romans 8:35-39, and 1 John 5:11-13. I have given you a lot of help for this section on the tape, so be sure to review thoroughly. The very last blank we ask them to fill in is supremely critical (p 9). Make sure you pinpoint their assurance or lack of it through that sentence based on the teaching of 1 John 5:13.
How Do You Have a Relationship with God? These concluding pages (10-11) give you the opportunity to interact with your student on a more personal basis. You should review the three bullets again showing how they fit together. In this section you need to go over every question. Find out how your student is handling all this new information. Remember to monitor capacity. Have they struggled with this lesson? Do they fully grasp the concepts? Make sure your student has believed in Jesus and that they feel secure in the relationship. The helpful note on page 11 highlights the connection between belief and security.
Following Lesson 1
- Fill out the “Next Time” box on page 11. Be very specific. If you feel your student is struggling with the material, only assign pages 12-20. This divides lesson two nicely.
- Turn to the Review Sheet on page 86. Have your student print out the memory verse and the central truth. The Subject is: Salvation.
- Go to the next page, 87—the Prayer Sheet. Begin now recording your student’s prayer requests.
- Pray together. Do not pressure a new believer to pray. This comes later. Model how to pray being careful not to use a lot of Christian jargon.
- Affirm your student. Tell them what a joy it is to grow together with them and that you will be praying for them next week.