Effective Discipleship Is Experiential


For the last few weeks on the blog, we’ve been considering some often overlooked aspects of discipleship in the early church.

Perhaps the most often overlooked aspect of discipleship from Acts 2 is that fact that Effective Discipleship is Experiential. Let’s read Acts 2:42-47 again to see the language the Bible uses.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

If we are honest, we’d have to admit that sometimes our churches can be largely educational when the discipleship we see in Acts is experiential. So here’s a quick quiz…

  • Are your discipleship groups generally more educational or experiential?
  • Are your groups talking about prayer or are they praying together?
  • Are your groups learning about miracles or seeing miracles?
  • Are your groups gaining knowledge about bearing one another’s burdens or are they bearing them?
  • Are your groups spitballing about serving in the community some time or are they serving people who need Jesus?

We see education in Acts 2, for sure. They heard the Apostles’ teaching, and that’s an area in which we generally do well. But we often fall off quickly after that one. In verse 42, they were fellowshipping. Some of our groups get to that point. Maybe they get to actual, effective, interceding prayer. But that’s all just verse 42, while verses 43-47 are largely theoretical for most discipleship groups.

  • Verse 43 – Filled with awe? Signs and wonders? Maybe not.
  • Verse 44 – Everything in common? That might be a more miraculous occurrence than actual signs and wonders.
  • Verse 45 – They sold property and gave to anyone who had need. How many of you have trouble getting people in your groups just to volunteer to be backup greeters on Easter?
  • Verses 46-47 – Meeting daily, in each other’s homes with glad hearts, praising God, favor with all people, adding to their number daily those who were being saved. My goodness.

Maybe your heart hurts when you see that list in light of what you are currently experiencing, but God can do that. He has done that. And God wants to do that in your church. So often though, what we offer are opportunities to study but not experience.

So here’s a crucial diagnostic question for your discipleship ministry…

How do your group gatherings end? What happens at the end of each discipleship group meeting in your church?

Some end with no action at all. We just learn and we leave. A better ending is when the leader asks, “What are you going to do to apply this? What are you going to do to live this? What are you going to do to experience what we’ve just learned about?” And an even better ending to a group time is when a leader asks, “What are WE going to do to apply this?” What are WE going to do to experience this aspect of the Kingdom of God together?”

But the Rooted experience helps group leaders take that even one step further. The Rooted group leader gets to say to their disciples, “Here is what we are going to do to apply this.” Each 10-week cycle, during which you are starting new groups and retraining, re-equipping seasoned disciples, has intentional, scheduled, reproducible discipleship experiences built into the process to help the Bible cross over from knowledge to experience.

That prescriptive approach to experiencing the life of a disciple teaches your people to recognize and pursue those experiences in their groups and on their own, when they have completed Rooted and launched out into a long-term group.


We would love to help you add discipleship experiences to your ministry. If you register for a free “What is Rooted” webinar, our team will come alongside you to help you learn how to implement the Rooted experience in your context.

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