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Results of our discipleship experiment

In our never-ending quest to help you grow in your faith on this blog, we offered a nine week discipling experiment that ends today. Twelve people signed up as disciplers and three times that number participated as their disciples. After two months, the results are in. Here are the conclusions. …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

In our never-ending quest to help you grow in your faith on this blog, we offered a nine week discipling experiment that ends today. Twelve people signed up as disciplers and three times that number participated as their disciples. After two months, the results are in. Here are the conclusions.

In general, it’s born some pretty good fruit. The word “discipling” is a broad term that encompasses everything from doing what I did in daily emailing six guys and six women to the much more in-depth relationships that some of those people in turn formed with another 25 disciples. And there was even a fourth level where some of the 25 themselves tried to disciple others.


All told, 48 of us engaged in the experiment. My goal was to demonstrate the principles of intentionality and multiplication.

There were no real relationships among those involved before we started, so any fruit that we saw proved the intentionality principle. Nothing would have happened if those involved hadn’t gone after it in an intentional way. The principle of multiplication was self-evident. Even though I was only involved with 12, 48 were touched through our experiment.


That said, the results varied widely. Some grew by leaps and bounds and others barely responded. One of the second-tier disciples, a doctor, now prays over his patients. And another had a profound experience in praying with her discipler over the phone.


One of the disciplers (who has his own insurance company) summed it up well when he said, “I think there is soooo much potential in this and we’re just now scratching the surface. Can discipleship happen via the internet? Yes, because you’ve been discipling me for the last year through your blog and you haven’t even known it. There are things about you I am trying to imitate; you have helped me wake up to my identity and role in the Kingdom, so yes it can be done. It requires a hungry heart and a lot of initiative on the part of the one being discipled; consistency on the part of the one doing the discipling; and a long-term commitment (?) from both parties. If our group of guys stay together, a lot of great things could come out of this.”


Other Conclusions:



  • We needed a group blog. This thing works better with a forum for discussion. Email interaction wasn’t quick enough or personal enough.
  • Expect attrition – discipleship is going to cost you. People dropped out or stopped interacting.
  • Nine weeks is too much for many. More screening may be needed, though the process itself screened people.
  • Some incredible advances were made by those who dove into the process, made phone calls, etc.
  • The internet can be a good entry-level tool to advance disciple-making when some level of screening is done and imputed trust exists.
  • Those who went deep learned a lot about intentionality and multiplication.
  • The material needs to be flexible to meet the variety of needs disciples have or approaches disciplers use. It was just a platform for more personal ministry.



In conclusion, THANK YOU to those who participated. It was rewarding to me to see the fruit. I believe that we need to experiment more like this. Getting started in a discipling relationship is often the biggest hurdle and many of you cleared that hurdle by participating.

Comments (3)

  • Thank you too, Seth, for your diligence in sending this out. It was a long commitment… but that is the key word. When we fulfill our commitments, we gain amazing opportunities to serve God more. He who is faithful over the little will be made ruler of much!

    Making disciples is not a little thing, and neither is emailing and corresponding daily for nine weeks. May the Lord count us faithful.

    It was an amazing adventure. Tons was learned and now it is time to apply.

  • Seth, thanks so much for this “experiment”. Just going through the book with Chad and interacting with him has shown me so much about the kingdom, how I view life, and what life can be. I was fortunate to be blessed to have Chad even come over for lunch. For me, time became a bit of a constraint. Even though I’m still working through the book, I know I’ll still be growing with lots of help behind me. I’d agree with having a blog or forum to discuss what we learn. It helps to hear how others have grown and how they apply what they’re learning. Thanks again.

  • I know that I could have done better as far as creating a “forum” type connection, I have to say that I picked up two people to disciple where I work and this has made a profound impact on them…and on our relationship…it all goes back to intentionality and committment. I am excited about continuing to look for people to disciple in Kingdom principles.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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