Image for Discipling Busy People Online (and More), Part 2

Discipling Busy People Online (and More), Part 2

Photo of Bobby HarringtonBobby Harrington | Bio

Bobby Harrington

Bobby is the point-leader of and, both collaborative, disciple-making organizations. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has an M.A.R. and an M.Div. from Harding School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 10 books on discipleship, including Discipleshift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman), The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick) and Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making (with Greg Weins). He lives in the greater Nashville area with his wife and near his children and grandchildren.

For Part 1, click here.

This all leads me to the last point…

3. Third, I learned that this kind of group can be really effective and successful.

Here is what we experienced:

Everyone was faithful to a one-hour weekly meeting.

Everyone joined together at the weekly Zoom meeting—it was rare that anyone missed—because they could make one hour per week work with their families, children’s bedtime, their jobs, and their schedules.

They participated even when out of town or at work or busy with family.

Here are the specifics that show how everyone made the meetings every week:

  • I joined a meeting while in Florida for a pastor’s gathering. I got to my hotel room by 8:30 PM that night. Another time I was in Calgary, Canada, visiting my parents, and I joined for one of our best discussions.
  • One of the guys joined from Vienna, Austria. He is a world class musician with a recital in Vienna, but he joined our Zoom meeting from Vienna at 3:30 AM because he was committed to our 8:30 PM Central time meeting and he could make it work from his hotel.
  • One of our guys joins periodically from the hospital. He works in anesthesia and often, without notice, he may be required to work late. Yet he finds a way to take a break or get to the end of his work, just in time for our 8:30 PM Zoom meeting. He previously had been very disappointed that he could not be in a Transformation Group, for he did not know how he could join a group with his unpredictable schedule.
  • Our worship leader loved the experience. I have intentionally discipled our church’s worship leader to the point where I am preparing him to multiply and lead Transformation Groups in our worship arts ministry. He shared with me how in his “crazy busy life” this model really works for him. He and his wife are already leading a small group every week, he leads our worship team, he writes music, and has some outside work that helps him make ends meet. He put it this way:

“I love the group and what God is doing…I can put my children to bed, connect with my wife, and then join the one-hour meeting from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM before getting ready for bed.”

I discipled them through significant biblical content.

As I mentioned in the first post, online meetings, in my experience, tend to emphasize content a little more than face-to-face meetings. Content is an important part of discipling relationships and here are some of the highlights:

  • One of the members of our group is a Muslim. He was really engaged in the discussions. He started by sharing his spiritual biography: wow, did it help us to understand him. Then, when we got into our biblical content, he was fully engaged–preparing for the discussion every week and providing great insights and reflections. He has not yet become a disciple of Jesus, but he is heading in that direction.
  • One of the men I am discipling described how he benefitted from the group: “Meeting virtually with other godly men has been a blessing as my work weeks are often over 60 hours and finding time to travel long distances can be a challenge.”
  • Here is what one of the men I am discipling said: “I was surprised at how intimate you can get in an online group setting like this. I have also really enjoyed the ease of not having to give up family time at home in order to be in a Transformation Group.”
  • I picked these men because they will likely be future church leaders. I discipled them in core biblical doctrines so that they really grasped them and are now equipped to disciple others in these doctrines.
  • I discipled them in a model that they “really liked and benefitted from,” and they can easily turn around and replicate it with others, even though they are busy. We are making disciples who will make other disciples with this model.

I discipled them in relationships and service.

Our once-a-month, face-to-face gatherings (in addition to seeing each other in passing at church) helped add to the group. We connected with each other over meals, we sabbathed by hanging out with our families together, and we served the needy together (shoulder-to-shoulder).

We are texting each other almost daily and we have individual times with each other “just because we enjoy being together.”

Men and women can easily replicate this model with others.

My wife has also used Zoom to meet with the women in her group when the weather was a problem or she had to be out of town.

Replication is very important. Jesus’ method was a method that his disciples were able to reproduce. Our goal is not just to “make disciples” but also to “make disciple makers.” And this model is simple, effective and reproducible—just what disciple makers need.

I am sharing my experience with you because I believe that many of you will find it helpful. I hope you can improve upon it.

Here is the bigger point: We have to find ways like this model to help disciple makers with the big challenge we face in North America: everyone is so busy.

I want to say, again, that face-to-face, life-on-life is the best way to disciple people. But I also think online meetings may be the only way that some potential disciple makers can lead others – or at least, it can be a supplement that makes the meetings more regular.

People all around us need to be discipled. So lets find more and more effective ways to offer them discipling relationships.

Our goal is not just to “make disciples” but also to “make disciple makers.”

(Originally published at Used with permission.)