Up. In. Out.
These three short words describe a long, deep transformation under way at The Journey, an RCA church in San Jose, California.
Launched by planting pastor Jeff Wenke in 2011, The Journey is now led by a new pastor, Jason Miller.
Miller says one of the reasons The Journey called him was because they wanted someone who would emphasize discipleship and empower leaders. (He previously served as the teaching and discipleship pastor at a church in Minnesota.)
Miller came to believe that the congregation would benefit from a discipleship method he had gone through at the Minnesota church, so last October he launched 3DM (Three Dimensions Ministries) at The Journey. He started by discipling, or huddling, two small groups of men and women whom he believes "have the capability to do great things for God's kingdom." Two of them are staff, and the rest are other leaders and potential leaders.He spent his first year getting to know the congregation, evaluating where the church was spiritually and how its leadership worked. "What I found were very tired leaders," he says. "There was lots of activity, but with always the same leaders."
The intention, he says, is for these leaders to have a "trickle down" effect with regard to discipleship. "While I still huddle them, they huddle another group, which in turn huddles another," says Miller. "There's the potential by the third level of huddle for 248 people to have gone through the process in two years. We're also all going through the same material. The key in these huddles is that we create a discipleship culture that uses the same language and materials in the huddling process."
Miller says that the ultimate goal is to lead people to become missional communities, communities of believers who reach out to serve the world around them. "It's up/in/out," he explains. "It starts with Jesus (up), then a learning community (in), and then it goes out to the world.
"Huddle is a learning community. People walk through the process together and hold each other accountable. It's about getting at the core of who Jesus says you are and how to live that out."
He says making disciples through huddling has three stages: information (studying Scripture), imitation (do what I do), and innovation (being released for ministry).
"In many churches, we're great at the information part and leap right to innovation--creation of ministry--skipping over imitation, discipleship. With huddle, I'm teaching you and I want you to teach others, but not until I'm sure you really understand the process. It's not just about knowing Reformed core doctrines or having the Bible memorized. It's walking people through the principles of following Jesus."
In the meantime, he says, huddles bear fruit. "We did an experiment in the church where we chose three people. I gave each person $100 to do something for someone in the community."Miller cautions that huddling takes time. "We want to see transformation quickly, but the reality is that when you start huddle, it's slow moving. It's a real discipleship process." He says he doesn't expect to see major changes for months.
One of the three people, a woman from a huddle, was a self-described introvert. "She called me up later that week to say, 'I don't like you right now.' Then she prayed and decided to reach out to several people in a nursing home. Her goal was to reach out to those who have been forgotten or neglected by their family. She sat with them, brought them flowers, and spent time talking with them and letting them know they were loved. Her goal is to go back as a ministry to this forgotten community.
"The huddle experience invited her to think differently. Through the huddle process we get identity in Christ and live out that healthiness in the world around us."
Join a learning community focused on 3DM as a transformational experience. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Think about who you're mentoring in faith. Are you contributing to a discipleship culture?
Pray for people in your church to learn from one another and grow in faith together.