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by Derrick Wilhelmus, Church Planter


Growing up in the church, I observed many attempts made by leaders to find the ‘key program’ or study materials to help take the congregants/church to an area of growth, both numerically and spiritually. The intentions were honourable but not always successful.

As I began developing a strategy for our church plant, (led by my conviction), I started analyzing the needs in the community. Our community, as in many other communities, is full of those hurt by the ‘church’ or others claiming to be Christians. I wanted to represent God to the best of my ability and help reach these individuals. So my approach had to be different than what they had previously experienced. God was strongly convicting me to the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) and the two greatest commandments given by Jesus as recorded in Matt 22:36-40— love God with all our being and love others.

I invited half a dozen individuals to join a small group. I told them that this small group wouldn’t be like anything they had experienced before. Although some were reluctant, they agreed. As we gathered together, I began specifically asking questions about their walk with the Lord and showed a genuine interest in how I could encourage and support them, while also encouraging vulnerability in sharing the challenges we all face while trying to live our life for Christ. Through those following weeks, phenomenal growth happened! All these individuals wanted were authentic relationships! They wanted someone to care about what they were going through and be willing to share with them in their walk. This is discipleship! Eventually this group, who was dead-set against Bible study, collectively asked for a Bible study. Amazing!

Although programs and specific study material can be helpful, people are genuinely interested in relationships. True relationships! This is what The Bridge is built on! I have found that the key to effective discipling is personal engagement. What will you do to unlock the possibilities? God bless.