This blog entry is by guest blogger Steve Ogne, church planter coach and consultant with CRM. Steve and I worked together for a decade and collaborated on several projects together, including The Church Planter’s Toolkit. Steve’s most recent publication is TransforMissional Coaching: Empowering Leaders in a Changing Ministry World.

pre-christiansOften we think disciple-making starts with new believers, but it actually starts with pre-Christians. Certainly the discipleship work with new believers is important, but the process begins well before then.

Here are the 5 steps of pre-Christian discipleship:

  1. Acquaintance: This step is simply meeting pre-Christians who are in your natural circles.
  2. Relationship: After making an acquaintance, we intentionally develop that relationship by practicing hospitality, helping our new friends, and enjoying shared interests.
  3. Meeting personal needs: As a result of our relationships, we become aware of needs and can provide practical help, emotional encouragement, or spiritual help. Note that this can also include our new friends meeting our personal needs– it doesn’t just go one way.
  4. Spiritual conversation:  Only after we’ve invested in relationship and demonstrated care for them personally are we in a place to engage well in spiritual conversation.
  5. Sharing your faith story with a clear invitation for them to respond:  Even those believers who are confident enough after spiritual conversation to share their own faith story are often reluctant to ask people to receive Christ. Sharing of faith must come with an invitation to respond.

Sometimes we want to start with steps 4 or 5, but all of these are necessary parts of the process of discipling pre-Christians.