- It can’t be too long.
- It can’t be too complicated.
- It needs to be short, but it should be substantive.
- It needs to connect with Scripture but also relate to modern-day life.
- Plain and simple: it needs to work.
The Discipleship Gospel Workbook is a tool to multiply disciples using the Gospel of Mark.
The Origin of This WorkbookAs Bill Hull and Ben Sobels were putting the finishing touches on The Discipleship Gospel, Ben approached HIM Publications about a curriculum that he’d been field-testing for years at his church in California. Sobels was seeing fruit, and he wanted to make it available for other churches to use. Plus, it worked well when used in tandem with The Discipleship Gospel, so this workbook was born. Since then, thousands of disciples have used this workbook to multiply disciples. While it helps to read The Discipleship Gospel, you don’t have to read that book in order to take people through this workbook. They go together, but they can also stand alone.
Reasons to Use This ToolThe Discipleship Gospel Workbook is a great tool for discipling people in your church. It’s intended for discipleship groups made up of a handful of people. It’s great because of five reasons:
1. It uses the Bible as the curriculum.While it is a workbook, the best part about this “curriculum” is that it simply gets people into Scripture by asking questions and addressing applicational issues.
2. It’s short and sweet.It’s only sixteen sessions—one for every chapter of Mark’s Gospel. So, you can go through it in just four to six months, covering the core life narrative and teachings of Jesus. Also, each session is only two pages.
3. It’s applicational.Every session, which is only two pages, ends with application. This is so important!
Obedience-based discipleship is crucial for effectively making disciples.
4. It’s was field-tested for years before publication.Perhaps the most important reason is this: it’s been field-tested in the church by various people. We worked with Ben and Bill to publish this book, making sure it had been tested, reworked, and polished to use among a broader audience than those for whom it had originally been written.
5. It’s designed to help you multiply disciples.Ben Sobels originally wrote this in order to multiply disciples, and that’s just what people have used it for—even today. The whole layout, design, and initiative of this book is to help you multiply disciples. In fact, for that reason, we’ve included in this blog the introduction of the workbook, which tells you everything else you need to know about why and how to use this book.
How to Use This Workbook—From the AuthorsNote: The following is an excerpt from The Discipleship Gospel Workbook.
Dear Reader: this workbook is for you.Whether you’ve believed in Jesus for a short time, for a long time, or never before, this workbook is for you. We’ve designed it to help you learn Jesus’ gospel and how to follow him. It will be especially helpful for those who have never been intentionally discipled by someone. By completing this discipleship experience, you will learn these skills for following Jesus:
- How to read and study the Bible
- How to start putting Jesus’ teachings into practice
- How to start living out the foundational practices of discipleship
- How to let Jesus change your life by experiencing his gospel for yourself
We suggest you read The Discipleship Gospel (to which this workbook is a companion) as you go through this material…
Because it contains vital context to help you understand the content of this workbook. In the Leader’s Guide below and at the end of the workbook, we suggest specific chapters of The Discipleship Gospel that will take you deeper into the core content of this workbook. One of the strengths of this discipleship experience is that you get to “count the cost” before you fully commit. Do the first session! See what it’s like by trying it out. If you realize it’s not for you, you can bow out if you choose, but try the first session before you decide. We think you’ll find that Jesus is too intriguing to stop. Jesus is the most important and most beautiful thing that has happened to this world, and we can’t wait for you to experience him! For the advancing of Christ’s kingdom, — Ben & Bill
Included in the Workbook: A Leader’s GuideNote: This section is an excerpt from The Discipleship Gospel Workbook, added here to give you context for how it can be used in your church.
What We Have Learned by Leading Others:
- As a general rule, it’s best to have someone lead you through this workbook before you try to lead others through it. If someone else has not led you through it, see if that’s possible first. Then, take others through it.
- Pray hard before inviting people to join your discipleship group (as Jesus did in Luke 6:12–13). Don’t just look for people you enjoy the most or with whom you feel the most comfortable. Let God direct you through prayer to the people he wants you to disciple.
Don’t let your discipleship group devolve into a mere knowledge-based class.
It should be an obedience-based experience. It’s not about “getting through the workbook” but about learning to live with Jesus and love others like Jesus.
- When a discipleship group forms, the leader should ask each member to begin praying for two or three people they know who aren’t yet following Jesus—that they would begin following Jesus.
- Encourage your group members to use the “Answer Key” in the back and emphasize with them to use it before your group meetings. This might seem counterintuitive, but it will greatly enhance your group’s discussions when you all start with “the right answers.” Set the tone as the leader by filling out the answers for yourself, even if you know the answers or have been through this material before—speed of the leader, speed of the pack.
- There are notecards in the back of the workbook to help your group complete the memorization projects. Encourage everyone to use these as they memorize definitions of the gospel, discipleship, and memory verses from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
- Carefully follow the instructions of this workbook by answering each question and doing each project without skipping this or that. If you skip things, your group experience will decline with increasing measure. This includes reading each chapter out loud as a group. In the first century, disciples would read Scripture aloud, so make that a priority for your group, too.
- This workbook is most effectively facilitated in gender-specific groups of three or four participants (Tit. 2:1–8), including the leader. It has been used in mixed groups and with other sizes, but in our experience, that’s not as effective. And it’s not designed to go through on your own—not at all.
Be sure to set a weekly meeting time based on input from those in your group.
Once your group sets the time, keep it. As the leader, if you repeatedly miss sessions or change the time, you’ll quickly lose momentum.
- While it may be convenient to meet on your church campus, meetings for this workbook work better in “the public square,” so meet at a coffee shop, a restaurant, or another public space. This offers a practical way of making your faith public from the beginning.
- Important: Once your discipleship group completes Mark 8, ask each person to lead at least one chapter (two is even better!) of the studies that cover Mark 9–16. It’s not hard to facilitate the group and it gives people much-needed confidence. So, let them lead (under your supervision) and help them if they falter, affirming them with grace, patience, and encouragement.
Also important: It’s not complete when we’ve merely been discipled.
This discipleship experience isn’t finished when your group completes this workbook. That’s just the halfway point. It’s not complete when we’ve merely been discipled. Full obedience to Christ includes making disciples, too (Matt. 28:19–20). That’s why we used the term “multiply” in the subtitle of this book. Encourage group members to multiply by leading their own group. If you think members of your group may not be ready to lead their own group, ask them to be an apprentice leader with you in your next group.
- When your discipleship group meets to read the next chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we recommend that your leader start the discussion by asking one of these four relational, others-focused questions, which we call “Discipleship Group Starter Questions”:
- How have you seen God’s goodness this week?
- How are you doing with loving the people God has already put in your life?
- How has God been speaking to you through his Word and prayer?
- Who are two or three people who are not yet following Jesus that you are praying for?
- You will also find in the back of the workbook a page called “Share Your Jesus Story.” Once your discipleship group finishes Mark 16, meet one more time so each member of your group can share their “Jesus Story,” along with the gospel, in three to five minutes. Use this time to talk through next steps for multiplying your group.
Those are reasons why I think you should consider using this resource for your church!
Get your copy of The Discipleship Gospel Workbook: Multiply Disciples with the Gospel of Mark by Ben Sobels and Bill Hull. Subscribe to HIM Publications here to get blogs like these delivered to your inbox.