Since releasing purpose is a lifelong adventure with God, this form of discipleship ministry must help people enter in and stay in that abiding life in Jesus that naturally produces fruit. It should be on one hand a one-time entering in the right gate and climbing the right mountain, while also fostering daily, weekly, and seasonal renewal through the means God provides. The process looks different for everyone, the goals and gifts are different for everyone, and there are no personality tests that can reveal even 1% of who God made a man or woman to be, so the challenge is daunting for a standard, western style class to actually produce strong men and women of God, who historically have been formed by an invisible hand that seems to rarely work the same way twice. Nothing will replace one-to-a-few, multi-year discipleship.
Yet there are principles of growing in Christ that can, when communicated by the Spirit, aid those who are being shaped by God. There are common cultural hindrances of belief and practice that can be eliminated by effective teaching, resources, coaching, and application exercises. And, of course, there is the common reality in current American culture that people run from 1-on-1 discipleship relationships and would rather take a class, read a book, or watch videos to get answers while avoiding the risks and vulnerabilities of in-person relationships. In the context of current culture and modern technology, mass media ministries are the new discipleship, though one that usually falls short of effectiveness because of the difficulties of maintaining authentic spiritual power with complex networks requiring large resources.
An authentic, purpose-releasing ministry will always point people toward experiencing God through relationships with other individual believers. It can use the modern technology to do so, but the direction will always point people to exercise some “old school” methods God has always used throughout history. Yet the large, complex ministries are not to be condemned by the church; it is the belief of this writer that it is God’s intended future for His church that once increasing portions of His bride are operating in deep maturity and unity, these groups will operate these complex ministry and business networks with an excellence that the world cannot reach or sustain. God’s emphasis this century appears to be unity, whereas last century it was intimacy, and the century before that, holiness. The methods of laboring to gather the harvest can no longer be accomplished by lone, anointed believers, not even those who lead large, visible organizations as the “man/woman of God.” The dynamics at work now are far too complex for lone-wolf disciples to accomplish much. But at the same time the numbers of people gathered into God’s family will be astronomical. It requires the unified anointing of more believers now to reach even just one person in today’s complex society, but once one is gather, so many more are as well by the same group anointing. The elusive, silver-bullet mass-discipleship program everyone looked for but never found is about to be released into the world, though it will look far different than what man imagined or pursued.