Disciples Are Rarely Made in Rows

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Maybe it depends on your definition of disciple, but in my experience disciples are rarely made in rows.

Don’t get me wrong.  Rows are good for some things.  You can fit more chairs in a room that’s set up theater style…in rows.  You can disseminate information to a larger group seated…in rows.  You can leverage the teaching of a gifted communicator more effectively…in rows.

You just can’t make disciples in rows.  Or at least it’s not likely.  And rows certainly won’t be the only environment or method necessary.

Making a disciple is mostly about one life investing in another.  It can happen in a group, but it’s not about one-way communication.  It’s about dialogue.  It is about communicating truth, but way more than just receiving truth.  Making a disciple is about life on life.

I like Andy Stanley’s take on life-change: “Life-change happens in circles, not in rows.”

Is life-change the same thing as disciple making?  No.  I don’t think so.  But disciples are rarely made in rows either.

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  1. Kathleen Ward on September 12, 2012 at 5:53 am

    We’ve been sitting in rows so long we think it’s the only way God’s people can meet. It’s time to get creative with our seating arrangements, our teaching methods and our leadership approaches.

  2. markchowell on September 12, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Thanks for jumping in here Kathleen. Sometimes adding a “turn to the person next to you” and a “pull your chairs into groups of 3 or 4 and talk about these two questions” is enough to move things in a better direction.

  3. Margaret on September 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I’m a fan of the star shape arrangement. Or octagonal. . . . Just kidding–I totally agree with your getting creative with seating arrangements, not just for discipleship, but for breaking age or racial or other barriers down.

  4. markchowell on September 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    We can count on the inimitable Margaret Feinberg to come up with a creative seating arrangement! I love it! Thanks for jumping in here.


  5. Kathleen Ward on September 24, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Thanks Mark. I agree those can be simple strategies every church can use to move towards interactive learning, and a good direction for churches to move.

    My husband and I are writing a book called “Church in a Circle”, calling churches to turn their passive audiences into facilitated learning communities, based on work we are currently involved in. I’ve been following you on Twitter and appreciate the thoughts and insights you have into collaborative learning in the church. I hope you have time to look through our blog and interact with our thoughts and ideas in the future, at churchinacircle.com.

    Blessings in your ministry,


  6. markchowell on September 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Be sure and keep me posted on your book. Do you have a publisher?