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How to reproduce
(No, not like that)

January 25, 2016

With so many things we ought to emphasize with our young disciples, how do we discern what is most important?

How do we decide which hills we’re going to die on, week in and week out, in our discipleship meetings?

How do we know what to teach to ensure that our students live fruitful Christian lives?

With endless blog posts, books, sermons and more streaming at our disciples every day, we need something to help them simplify their spiritual lives.

Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators, created a simple diagram to help answer these questions, and to ensure Biblical disciples are being created.

Wheel Diagram Overview

Although the Wheel diagram is likely familiar to most campus ministry leaders, I would think most of us have, unfortunately, let it slip to the sidelines of our discipleship.

To ensure we’re imparting the essentials of the Christian life, the basics of the faith, we must at least begin with the aspects of the Wheel Diagram.

Like every wheel, the hub is the most important part. Your disciple’s relationship with Jesus is the power source from which the rest of the spokes derive their life and energy.

Make sure your disciples see the spokes of the Wheel not as a checklist to perform, but as privileges of their identity in Christ to enjoy.

Help them understand fellowship with other believers, evangelism of their non-Christian friends, intentional prayer, and time in the Word in the context of their union with Him in the gospel.

The Discipleship Training Language

As leaders and disciple-makers, we must not only be familiar with what makes up the wheel diagram, but we must be experts at reproducing it in the lives of other men and women.

In the discipleship world there are a two concepts that have helped me tremendously in imparting the basics of the wheel diagram: Direction questions and the 5 C’s.

Direction Questions

Where am I taking them? (Vision)

Before you set out to do anything, it is always helpful to determine where you are headed. The same is true in the lives of our disciples.

For each aspect of the wheel diagram I like to simply ask, “Where am I taking this disciple?” “What is my goal for them at each spoke?” What is my vision for him when he graduates?”

You can see how this easily begins to set up a clear plan for what I need to cover with them!

The answers for each of the aspects look something like this:

  • Word: I want my disciple to be a self-feeder of God’s Word.
  • Prayer: I want my disciple to lead a dependent prayer life.
  • Evangelism: I want my disciple to lead a lifestyle of evangelism.
  • Fellowship: I want my disciple to understand his role inside a Christian Community.

Where are they now? (Evaluation)

After I’ve determined my goal, I like to get an idea of where they are in their maturity of a given area. This helps me to meet them where they are in their needs rather than just come into a d-group and teach them the newest thing I’ve learned.

If I miss where they are, two things could happen:

  1. Overshoot: I could end up leading them to perform for my approval with unhealthy motives. They will likely end up frustrated by not being able to keep up with my expectations.
  2. Undershoot: I could potentially promote laziness in their life by not stretching them to grow.

It’s so important to take the time to determine where your disciple is in his or her maturity!

What’s the next step? (Application)

After I’ve generated vision for them and evaluated where they currently are, I simply need to ask the question, “What is the next step?” How do I need to move them forward today? What do I need to do with them or in front of them to help them be more firmly established in their relationship with Jesus—the Hub of the Wheel diagram?

The rubber meets the road here!

This step takes our thinking in the previous two steps and translates it into topics for one-on-one conversations or d-group discussions.

The next step may be an intentional conversation, discussing a passage in God’s Word or your disciple watching you share your faith! Whatever you decide, make sure it is attainable for them.

Shared experiences and feedback ought to be a regular part of discipleship.

The 5 C’s

The second concept that has helped me reproduce the Wheel Diagram is what is called the, “5 C’s.”

Usually my answer to the last direction question, “What is the next step?” is one of these 5 C’s.

Christ-Likeness: Do it in front of them

If I want to see my disciples live out the wheel diagram, I must live it out in front of them.

I cannot hope to see my disciples practice these spiritual disciplines if they don’t ever see me doing them.

The classic discipleship principle always rings true: More is caught than taught. My example and model cannot be overstated.

Confidence: Do it with them

I need to have very purposeful involvement in the life of my disciples. This means not only sharing my faith in front of them, but also alongside them. I need to let them see me study the word, but also study the word with them.

Shared experiences and feedback ought to be a regular part of discipleship.

Conviction: Teach them why

As important as the previous two principles are, if we do not combine them with conviction from God’s Word, then we will create modern day Pharisees.

Our disciples must be convinced from God’s Word why the wheel diagram is something they ought to invest their lives in.

Competence: Show them how

The Christian life doesn’t come naturally.

We must come alongside new Christians and show them how to pray and what it looks like to have biblical fellowship.

Skills and methods are much needed for new Christians and we as disciple-makers are the people to teach them.

Consistency: Keep them going

Once we’ve achieved the above, we then must give constant encouragement and provide regular accountability.

We want our disciples to keep living out the aspects of the wheel diagram as well as reproduce it into others, so we need to walk with them and keep them going!

Depending on my season of life, I’ll think through these concepts on a weekly or monthly basis for each of my disciples.

After a while, this style of thinking becomes more intuitive and less like a task to perform, so don’t feel overwhelmed!

Remember, if we want to reproduce men and women who are grounded in their faith, we must learn how to impart these basics from the wheel diagram.

Use the above suggestions for your next one-on-one and see how it goes!