Fire and Excitement

"We have gone from four men to 16 to nearly 50,” Tom shared excitedly. “But most important, there is a fire and excitement in the lives of men who admittedly were spiritually plateaued.” Sitting at an IHOP near San Antonio, NCM Nav Associate Tom Manacapilli recapped the progress his church’s men’s ministry has made in discipleship in the past two years.

Just 30 months ago, he began a conversation with his senior pastor, the adult pastor, and a retired army chaplain about how to bring life-to-life discipleship to the men of their church. The senior pastor had just finished reading Transforming Discipleship and told the three of them it would be required reading for all future leaders of triads and quads—groups of three or four.

“We met for about three months, strategizing how to do it and putting together a list of names,” Tom explained. “Each of us started a quad. I led two, because I did a second one at work. During the first year we had some starts and stops, but we finished the year with 12 men plus the three pastors.”

“We used Essentials of Discipleship as a resource in all of the quads,” he said. It was helpful to have a framework, and this greatly increased the odds of multiplication, which was proven by the numbers.

The men followed several tenets in their life-to-life quads, including:

  1. Everyone attended (or they didn’t meet).
  2. They memorized Scripture each week.
  3. They each shared a personal, practical application each week.
  4. They followed up the next week to see how the application went.
  5. After six to eight weeks they rotated leadership to prepare everyone to be ready to lead.
  6. Each man signed a covenant that he would follow each of these guidelines.

The leaders also held a couple of workshops during the year to get some tools into the hands of each man. These centered on meeting with God and sharing one’s faith.

The men started their second year last fall, and many of the original quad members are now leading new groups. They now have 12 triads and quads.

“One mistake we made was allowing four 'mature’ Christians to join as leaders when they hadn't already experienced being part of a group,” Tom related. “It was much harder for these guys to keep from making it a time for them to ‘teach’ instead of each member sharing from his time in the Word and applying what he learned.”

Tom and the other leaders are considering offering a two-year option for some who are not ready to multiply. Most of the guys are young, 20s to 30s, and now are leading groups with 50- to 60-year-old men (and doing well), he reported.

“I’m so excited to see the difference it’s making in each of these guys’ lives and the ripple effect it’s having in their families and our church,” Tom added. “The Women’s Ministry is now talking about how they might move beyond Bible study into real life change.”

Indeed, “fire and excitement” is growing not only among the men, but within the congregation as a whole, and a culture of intentional disciplemaking is taking root!

Roy and Margaret Fitzwater co-direct Navigator Church Ministries, a Mission of The Navigators. You’re invited to email them or to inquire more about the work of NCM here