Three-Thirds Pattern of Discipleship

If discipling people, we should get together with them regularly (i.e. weekly). We do this to grow in our relationships with and obedience to Jesus Christ, and to grow in love for each other. Three Thirds is just a simple way to structure those discussions. It breaks discipleship into three thirds. We'll just say parts. They are past, present, and future. If using a whiteboard or sheet, you can just divide it into three, vertical columns with those titles.

Past: Looking Back

1. Opening prayer. Get the Holy Spirit involved in it.

2. Time of care. Give people a chance to say how they've been doing, what's going on in their lives, and thanksgiving to God for anything good about life.

3. Loving accountability. The church is a mission organization meant to live for and glorify God. Doing so is also what's best for each of us. Caring for each other means we hold each other accountable for obedience. We follow up on how well each person is doing against last week's goals. We do that in a loving way. We'll celebrate any successes and help people with struggles wherever possible.

(Note: Our group merges 2 and 3. We share one at a time in a circle. Each person shares whatever is relevant to their life.)

Present: Looking Up

1. Time of worship. Thank God for the good things if you didn't already. Psalm or musical worship.

2. Look up. We want to hear from God. That's usually a new lesson in His Word. Topical studies groups have done include Christ's commands, Bible overviews, theology, or even counseling topics. One of the strongest approaches is giving group members verses, a list of questions, and having them share what they discovered. An experienced person leads to guide and correct them on the way.

3. If there's a new tool (eg. evangelism), the training or practice might happen right here.

(Note: For leading studies or discussions, here's tips from Nav20 and K.Y. Davis. Both are pdf's. BiblicalTraining has a class on it, too.)

Future: Looking Forward

1. Encouragement for the group. Might draw on what was in Looking Up.

2. Group members discuss accountability goals for the next week. Set some goals: How are you going to obey and live for Jesus using what you were just taught? Who will you share it with so it gets passed on? We want disciples who make other disciples.

3. Group members pray for each other about their goals.

4. Optionally end it with the Great Commission. We're not finished: we're back on mission.

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