Coaching for Discipleship

Charles Kiser —  September 6, 2011 — Leave a comment

Storyline’s first Coaching Group had its initial meeting last Wednesday night.

This Coaching Group represents an evolution in my approach to discipleship and leadership development within our community.

I used to wonder how to describe myself and the work I do with Storyline (see here for an old blog post about Church Starter vs. Spiritual Guide). Now I’ve really come to see myself as a coach for mission and the spiritual life.

After receiving training through Mission Alive’s Coaching Labs, I began coaching individual ministry leaders or small ministry leader teams within Storyline. My coaching was largely skill-based and focused on a particular ministry task – like leading a house church. Once a quarter we would host a Leader Forum for all the leaders to get together and enjoy each other’s company (usually 8-12 people).

It became clear over time, however, that my ministry coaching was missing two important elements: 1) an emphasis on the whole person, namely character development and spiritual formation in addition to skills; and 2) the relational synergy that existed in our Forum sessions with 8-12 people.

Enter 3DM (3 Dimensional Ministries). It was about this time that I began reading about a structure developed by 3DM most often called a Huddle. It is their basic vehicle for life-on-life discipleship: a group of 3-8 people, called together by a leader, who share life together regularly for a season and practice a set of tools for following Jesus called LifeShapes. Essentially, the Huddle leader serves as a coach who helps group members listen to God and act on what they’re hearing.

The LifeShapes integrate skill and character development and are portable enough to be remembered and shared by anyone. That is, in fact, 3DM’s hope: that Huddle participants are formed so deeply by their experiences that they themselves go on to gather a group of 3-8 people around them to coach in following Jesus.

The Huddle is a proven vehicle for discipleship and leadership development. It was a basic building block of a European church planting movement through which, in one 3-year period, 725 churches were planted (you can read more about that here).

I suppose the heart of what excites me most about the Huddle concept is that it feels like “Jesus style” discipleship – highly relational, extremely non-programmatic. At the end of the day, that’s what I want to do with my life – to help people experience what I’m convinced is the best way out there to live, the way of Jesus.

Mike Breen, the leader of 3DM, says you can build a church and not have disciples. But if you make disciples, you’ll always get the church. Sign me up. That’s the kind of church planting I want to do.

So after a season of prayer, I invited 8 people (some ministry leaders, some committed disciples – all Partners in Mission with Storyline) to walk with me in a Coaching Group, our language for a Huddle. We’ll walk together for the next year and see what God does. Pray for me as I pour myself into these eight people as a coach and a disciple. Pray for my Coaching Group friends, that this will be a rich season of spiritual growth and connection to God for them.

If you’re interested to read more about Huddles, I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of the book Building a Discipling Culture, by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram. Incidentally, the 2nd Edition, with 60% new content, is being released as an e-book TODAY.

Next week I’ll share more about what I’m learning about Jesus’ twofold approach to discipleship – invitation and challenge.

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

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