Real Life Discipleship: Continuous Breakthrough


In the New Testament the word disciple literally means ‘learner’.  Yet the way we do learning within the church is so often limited to giving people information.  We think that discipleship is encompassed in running a training programme which gives people the ‘right answers’.

As I’ve discipled people over the years I’ve definitely fallen into this pitfall.  As a student worker I was involved in mentoring a number of female leaders.  We’d meet up for coffee and chat about how they were doing personally and what they were leading.  But I fell into the same trap of the ‘training mode’.  Rather than encouraging them to discover for themselves what God was saying to them and how they were going to respond to Him, I would launch in with my advice on what they should be doing.  Needless to say this didn’t endow them with much in the way of personal discipleship.

circle-kairos-learning-circleSince then, the best tool I’ve found for discipling more like Jesus is the Learning Circle.  You can download a free introduction leaflet and a free discipleship culture training session from the 3DM shop or read about the biblical basis and process of the Learning Circle in a real life example here.

This is a great tool for determining what God is saying to you and what you’re going to do about it.  Yet it can be a little more tricky when we’re using the Learning Circle with someone we’re discipling.  You might be brilliant at deciphering what God’s doing in your life, but how do you help someone else to begin to do that for themselves?

In the gospels Jesus regularly responded by asking a question.  The way that he lived provoked questions in those around him and his response to their challenges was to ask questions which revealed their hearts.  By asking questions we facilitate the process of the Learning Circle, encouraging those we lead to dig deeper into what God is saying to them and take ownership for personal transformation.  At the end of the day, using the Learning Circle should lead to a life that is lived differently – it’s a lot harder to give up on something when you’ve made a decision yourself than if you’re only doing it because someone told you to.

So whether you’re discipling someone in your Missional Community, small group, huddle or just over the washing up, it’s great to have a bank of questions that you can ask them to help facilitate the process of the Learning Circle.  Here are a couple of examples of things that I think about when I’m helping someone process their Kairos moment:-

  • questionsDoes their Kairos relate to their Covenant identity in God or their Kingdom responsibility? Covenant identity is about our relationship with God. Kingdom Responsibility is about how we’re living out what God has called us to.
  • Is the challenge around something external or something internal? For example, someone might feel like they’re too busy with church commitments, but they just don’t know what they can stop doing.  This could be about helping them to make good decisions in time management (external), but it could be because they’re unable to say no to people because they get their sense of self-worth from being involved (internal).

If you want any further resources on discipleship from 3DM look at:

Building a Discipling Culture: Chapter 6 Continuous Breakthrough

Free resources on using the Learning Circle in the context of a Huddle are available as PDFs

Huddle Leader Guide, available from 3dm UK also includes a list of questions that can be used to lead someone around the Learning Circle

Jon and Helen Bearn


Helen and her husband Jon have just moved to Derby where they are expecting their first baby soon!  They’ve been part of and led missional communities for the past 6 years and are passionate about seeing young adults released into their missional vision.  Helen until recently worked for 3dmUK, whilst also finishing her MA in Global Politics and Law.



Questions image from here