Disciples in Action
assisting young people in their discipleship journey
Produced by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist® Youth Ministries Department
Starting over or just taking a bold step?
the youth and young adults discipleship curriculum will help you on your journey toward an authentic walk with Jesus
Disciples in Action Curriculum ™
Copyright © 2012 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist® Youth Ministries Department
Published by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist® Youth Ministries Department,
12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, Maryland 20904, USA.
Permission to photocopy this Disciple in Action Curriculum™ granted for local use in churches, youth groups, and other Christian-education activities. Special permission is not necessary. However, the contents of this curriculum may not be reproduced in any other form without written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.
Project Director: Gilbert Cangy
Project Coordinator: Maria Dunchie
Copy Editor: Erica Richards
Consultants: Bonita Shields and Debbonnaire Kovacs
Printed in the United States of America
BALVIN BRAHAM, Inter-American Division
BRENDAN PRATT, South Pacific Division, Greater Sydney Conference
CALVIN ROBERSON, North American Division
DEBBONNAIRE KOVACS, North American Division
ERIKA PERPALL, Inter–American Division
EURYDICE OSTERMAN, North American Division
GEOFFREY MARSHALL, Inter–American Division
JULIAN THOMPSON, Trans-European Division
KERRYAN FRANCIS, Inter-American Division
KIMBERLEY TAGERT-PAUL, North American Division
KRIS STEVENSON, North American Division
MICHAEL IKECHUKWE OLUIKPE, Southern Asia–Pacific Division
MICHELLE RILEY-JONES, North American Division
PHILIP ORESO, East Central Africa Division
RON FLOWERS, North American Division
STEVE THOMAS, Trans-European Division
TRACY MORGAN, North American Division
How to Use the Disciples in Action Curriculum (D.I.A.)
The purpose of this guide is to provide some general instructions to churches, schools, and groups as leaders begin to develop or revise the program to meet their groups’ individual needs.
This curriculum is a resource designed to assist young people, ages 18 to 25, in their discipleship journey and proposes a number of elements or foundations that constitute the experience. While it is recommended for individuals, youth groups, and churches to follow the process that is being proposed, leaders may reorganize the material to respond to and maximize their unique circumstances and opportunities.
The Together Growing Fruitful Disciples framework, on which this curriculum is based, is the scope of learning. While it does not necessarily describe all the tools considered valuable for us in our spiritual journey, it identifies a core of learning that is essential for everyone. There are many different ways to approach this curriculum, but regardless of the approach, it will represent the beginning point of a discipleship journey! However, the completion of the series should not be viewed as the culmination of the discipleship process, but rather as an essential step in the ongoing discipleship journey. It should answer the questions, “What will life look like after this series?” “What is the expected outcome?”
The suggested length of each session is 90 minutes.
Growing Disciples Inventory (GDI): This suggested pre- and post-session activity can be found at www.growingfruitfuldisciples.org/gdi. This eighty-four-question inventory is aligned with the TGFD framework to aid in determining areas of growth that have taken place in a disciple’s life and areas in which one needs to grow. The online version includes a graphic representation of the inventory results as well as a Spiritual Growth Action Plan. For those of you who may not have access to the Internet, or would like to allow others to experience the inventory without having them go through the entire online version, the “short form” version, available on the back page, is an excellent alternative.
Connector is the power base of each study. This is the Bible text. Whether it is one verse or several chapters long, this will provide the link between the mind and the heart.
(“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)
The Themes for each session are derived from the Indicators that are listed for each Commitment.
Big Idea is one statement that sums up the essence of the session. It serves as the intersection between the topic and the themes.
The Journey (60 minutes)
Exploration (30-40 minutes) is the biblical and philosophical exploration of the main ideas on which the session is built. Each session will include interactive learning to help lead the group in the most effective way possible. Note: The leader should make sure to make the interactive sessions exciting and natural. Feel free to adjust each exercise to the size of the group. Familiarize yourself with the “interaction” segments before the session and make sure to infuse excitement into each illustration.
Reflection (10-15 minutes) should focus on helping the participant reflect and respond to the truths they have just discovered. Questions are included in this section.
Application (10-15 minutes) is how the lessons can be applied to everyday life.
Leader’s Information is handy information that will help coach the leader throughout the meeting. For example, if a group activity is suggested, the leader will be given ideas of how to alter the activity for different sized groups. Where appropriate, relevant writings from the Spirit of Prophecy are also included.
Dig Deep is optional and may not be found in all lessons. They are informative sidelights that add insight to a particular passage, word, fact, or Core Belief. These can also provide insights on youth culture, current events, and philosophy throughout each study. Where appropriate, relevant writings from the Spirit of Prophecy are included.
Disciple in Action is where the writer pulls a challenge from the lesson for the participant to act on using what they have learned during this session.
Mentors should be assigned to each participant during their first week of attendance. Additional information is found on page 9, in the introduction.
The Debriefing Session is a brief summary with leading questions that tie the sessions in a series together. The youth leader or the facilitator should be able to assess the level of integration of concepts that has taken place over the sessions in the series and give the young person an opportunity to discuss what worked and what did not work for them. By this time (end of each series) the young people should have already been putting into practice some, if not all, of what was studied and suggested in the sessions. Leaders should use this time to examine if participants are embracing the life changing habits or disciplines that have been presented and discussed.
Noteworthy information can be found at the beginning of some series. This is information that will give added insight into one of more of the lessons in a particular series. Please read this information and refer back to it in the lessons indicated.
Plan the Work. Work the Plan!
Table of Contents
front matter 2-11
credit information 4
how to use this curriculum 5
series 1 11-41
Session 1: Developing a dynamic, deepening, love relationship with god 12
Session 2: understanding that christ calls me to be his disciple 19
Session 3: seeking opportunities in all daily activities to minister to others 25
Session 4: helping believers engage in a transformational devotional life 31
Session 5: debriefing 37
series 2 42-79
Session 6a: developing an individual identity that is complete in christ 45
Session 6b: developing an individual identity that is complete in christ 56
Session 7: understanding that god is the source of life 60
Session 8: investing myself in the discipleship of others 66
Session 9: helping believers build christ-like relationships 71
Session 10: debriefing 76
series 3 80-113
Session 11a: developing christ centered family relationships 81
Session 11b: understanding god’s plan for marriage and sexuality 87
Session 12: understanding the consequences of the human fall 95
Session 13: recognizing and responding to the needs of others globally 99
Session 14: helping believers study and obey god’s word 104
Session 15: debriefing 111
series 4 114-141
Session 16: developing christ-centered relationships in the church 117
Session 17: understanding that god has provided for my redemption 121
Session 18: supporting the ministry of the local and global church 127
Session 19: helping believers live a contagious, holistic christian life 133
Session 20: debriefing 139
series 5 142-191
Session 21: developing positive relationships with those outside the church 144
Session 22: understanding that god provided everything for my restoration 151
Session 23: embracing the evangelistic mission of the church - witnessing 157
Session 24: helping believers discern where god is working 167
Session 25: helping believers use spiritual gifts to fulfill a personal call 173
Session 26: debriefing 187
scope and sequence 191
about the writers 196
quick glance 200
growing disciples inventory 202
Disciples in Action
“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1, NKJV).
It’s often believed that being a disciple of Jesus is an “automatic” event. Once you’ve accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, all you have to do is read the Bible and pray, and all will be well. Of course, those are imperative to the Christian journey. But how do we read the Bible? How do we pray? How do we best open our hearts and minds so that the Holy Spirit can do His work in us? That’s what Disciples in Action (DIA) is all about!
DIA is built on the Together Growing Fruitful Disciples (TGFD) framework. This framework is the foundation of a discipleship model designed to help us think more clearly and deeply about the spiritual growth and maturity of ourselves and others as disciples of Jesus Christ. It identifies four growth processes around which we believe the disciple’s journey occurs:
Connecting: Growing in relationship with God, others, and self
Understanding: Growing in knowledge of Jesus and His teachings
Ministering: Growing in participation of God’s mission of revelation, reconciliation, and restoration
Equipping: Growing in the body of Christ by walking alongside other disciples in order to support, nurture, and strengthen in love
All four processes in this model are centered on and accomplished through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Separating these processes may seem artificial, but it does allow us to bring clarity to vital aspects of discipleship that might otherwise be overlooked.
In this model, commitments for the growing Christian are articulated for each of the individual processes. Within each process, commitments are further divided into key aspects of spiritual growth called indicators. These indicators represent behaviors through which, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can grow and mature as disciples of Jesus Christ. They also represent a lifetime of following Jesus.
Spiritual Mentors (or Partners, Companions) are crucial in our discipleship journey, as revealed in the equipping aspect of this model. Actually, the support, nurture, and strengthening derived from our walking alongside each other in this journey is foundational. Thus, you’ll find in this DIA curriculum that each participant is to be assigned a mentor right from the start.
Whether the person is much older or just a little older, the mentor should be someone who the participant can trust and look to as a role model for learning how to live the Christian life. Some qualities of a mentor should include:
a willingness to share his/her walk with God.
sincerity and honesty in sharing their faith stories.
openness in communication.
a willingness to provide support and encouragement by listening and giving honest feedback without trying to force change. (Spiritual accountability is not about giving up control. It is about allowing another person to help us accomplish spiritual goals that we have set for ourselves.)
Another element of growing is that of assessment. It answers the question, “How am I doing?” Of course, each disciple’s journey is unique; the work of the Holy Spirit cannot be replicated in a lab as we do vitamins and pharmaceuticals! “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8, NKJV). However, it is possible to assess the direction of one’s life. Thus, the DIA curriculum directs leaders to utilize the Growing Disciples Inventory (GDI), located at www.growingfruitfuldisciples.org/gdi. This eighty-four-question inventory is aligned with the TGFD framework to aid in determining areas of growth that have taken place in a disciple’s life and areas in which one needs to grow. The online version includes a graphic representation of the inventory results as well as a Spiritual Growth Action Plan.
The inventory is also available on the back page as a “short form” that contains only twenty questions. For those of you who may not have access to the Internet, or would like to allow others to experience the inventory without having them go through the entire online version, the short form is an excellent alternative.
Scripture encourages us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12b, 13, NKJV). While it is God’s work in us through His Holy Spirit, the DIA curriculum is an excellent tool to help young people experience God’s work in their lives and to assist them in trusting Him to that work.
Developing a dynamic, deepening, love relationship with god by Brendan Pratt
understanding that Christ calls me to be his disciple by Kimberley Tagert-Paul
seeking opportunities in all daily activities to minister to others by Eurydice Osterman
helping believers engage in a transformational devotional life by Kris Stevenson
debriefing session by Debbonnaire Kovacs
Session 1: Developing A Dynamic, Deepening, Love Relationship With God
To develop a dynamic, deepening, love relationship with God, I am:
communing with God regularly through His word, prayer, and other Christian disciplines.
participating with other believers in worshipping God on Sabbath and at other times.
worshipping God daily as a living sacrifice by choosing His will over my own will.
paying attention to what God is doing and praising Him for His love and faithfulness.
God created you for a unique, deepening, love relationship with Him.
Look: Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:17
Memorize: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2).
God Seeks a Dynamic Relationship With You.
God is in love with you. Over and over again in the Bible, God reminds you that you’re His child and that He desperately seeks an intimate, growing relationship with you. A dynamic relationship with God starts with knowing that God, for reasons we will never fully understand, loves you beyond your wildest imagination. As a response to God’s love, we can connect with Him and allow Him to grow in and through us.
Beyond communicating to us through His love letter, the Bible, and through prayer, God also communicates through wise people, promptings of the Holy Spirit, and even through nature—where He shows us His power and care. In connecting with God, different people find different spiritual practices helpful. Some people find the arts or solitude particularly valuable, while others connect with God deeply though keeping a journal where they include their thoughts about God as they meditate on Scripture or reflect on their relationship with God in general. Some people’s journals don’t just contain words; they contain poems, drawings, even cut out pictures that mean something to them. Art, music—every kind of creativity can be a doorway for experiencing God. Solitude, particularly in nature (as Jesus frequently sought) is one of the best ways to connect with the Creator.
The ways we connect with God are often referred to as “Christian disciplines.” Christian disciplines are not a measure of your spirituality. It is simply any activity that helps you connect with God and that allows Him to work in and through you. They become the habits/practices that we put in place so that we can grow in the fruits of the Spirit. Disciplines will not earn God’s love; you are already loved by Him. They are to help us grow towards the life God desires for us.
What would be your advice if someone asked you to outline the top three factors for growing healthy relationships?
Describe how it feels to stare into a sky full of stars, yet at the same time remember that the God of the universe cares intimately about you.
What do you think are the top three factors that stop people from connecting with God?
We Connect With God Through The Bible.
One of the main ways God connects with His children is through His Word. In the Bible, God uses people to tell us the story of how much He deeply desires you and how He wants to spend eternity with you. Through various characters, teachings, visions, and even poems, God communicates values and practices that He knows will allow you to live life with significance now and will shape you for eternity.
In a world that bombards us with noise, consumerism, and all sorts of other worldviews, the Bible reminds us that we exist for God’s glory, and that a relationship with Him is the most important thing. We are given clarity about what really matters.
Studying the Bible is not about just knowing more; it’s about change in our lives. The Pharisees prayed and studied, however, they did so in a self-seeking way rather than looking for a connection with God. You can know that hydrogen and oxygen make water, but that makes no difference if you’re dying of thirst. Knowledge is good, but only if it brings about change that leaves you with a stronger love for God and people. When you ask God to shape you through Scripture, you will increasingly find yourself learning lessons from Bible characters, dwelling on promises, and seeing the world through new eyes.
Who is your favourite Bible character? What does that character tell you about God and what lesson might you learn from that character?
Can you think of a time when God brought a Bible verse to your mind at just the right time?
What do you think it means to be “washed in His Word”?
We Connect With God Through Prayer.
Another primary way of connecting with God is through prayer. Prayer can, at first, come across as being a bit odd. It might seem a little strange to talk to someone we can’t physically see—and even stranger to listen to them. However, in prayer we are not really telling God things He doesn’t know, but rather inviting Him to be part of our lives, seeking His guidance, and entrusting situations into His control. We can pray in our minds throughout the day, inviting Him into our lives, but it is also important to have some more structured times of prayer during which we worship God, seek His leading, and renew our invitation to Him to work in and through us. There is also incredible power in praying for and with other people.
Ultimately, prayer is about coming humbly before God and inviting Him to lead. God really wants to hear your voice—after all, you’re His child.
From the Pen of Ellen G. White
“Christ impressed upon His disciples the idea that their prayers should be short, expressing just what they wanted, and no more. He gives the length and substance of their prayers, expressing their desires for temporal and spiritual blessings, and their gratitude for the same. How comprehensive this sample prayer! It covers the actual need of all. One or two minutes is long enough for any ordinary prayer. There may be instances where prayer is in a special manner indited by the Spirit of God, where supplication is made in the Spirit. The yearning soul becomes agonized and groans after God. The spirit wrestles as did Jacob and will not be at rest without special manifestations of the power of God. This is as God would have it” (Testimonies to the Church, Volume 2 581.1).
To the Leader
“And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?” (Matthew 6:5, The Message).
Please share practical ways of praying with your group. Below are six simple ways to change your life through prayer (taken from Barbara Bartocci’s book, Grace on the Go: 101 Quick Ways to Pray).