DC / Thoroughly Equipped was born, like so many other things, out of necessity. As the first official Men’s Minister at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, I found myself ministering to hundreds of men on a weekly basis, with only the assistance of a part-time secretary. It didn’t take long to realize that I needed help. Looking for help, I found men willing to pass out bulletins, serve as ushers and greeters, and volunteer to do manual labor. But even though many had been a part of a church for years, few felt competent or confident enough to lead themselves or their home spiritually—much less, to spiritually invest in others outside their closest circles.
The Great Commission, our calling, loomed large. What did Jesus have in mind when He commanded us to go and make disciples? What is a disciple? Certainly Jesus is pleased when we pass out bulletins and do manual labor in His name, but “making disciples who can make disciples” reaches far deeper. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reads, “All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for preaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I needed men who were “thoroughly equipped”—who could then train and equip others.
In a nutshell, that’s why DC began in 2002. My co-author Dr. Eric Schansberg and I set out to create a pathway designed to help men move to a place of (far greater) spiritual competence and confidence in the disciple-making process. This pathway ranged from a large-group, low-commitment, introductory study that fed into small group men’s Bible studies orchestrated to get men prepared for the meatier life and commitment of DC.
Eric and I were convinced that discipleship must follow the model of Christ. There are several key components that we intentionally included:
- Discipleship is relational. For real transformation, it’s got to be life-to-life, iron sharpening iron. Thus DC would take place in small groups of 12 max.
- Discipleship requires participation. Each DC’er prepares material and then all participate (about equally) in the group discussions.
- Disciple-making takes time. It took Jesus 3 1/2 years. Graduates of DC spend 21 months together in pursuit of the character and priorities of Jesus. Perseverance is part of the commitment.
- Jesus began small. He taught the crowds but built into the twelve. He was not focused on addition but multiplication. DC began with 19 graduates after the first 21 months. There are now over 1,400 graduates with hundreds currently making their way through the 21 months of equipping.
- Jesus is the Living Word. We have the Written Word and the Holy Spirit to guide. DC had to be Bible-centered. Statistics demonstrate that 1 out of 10 men in America have a Biblical world view. Most professing Christians have never read the entire Bible—much less studied it to show themselves approved unto God, workmen who don’t need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth. DC is Bible heavy.
- During the course of the 21 months, DC participants read through the OT and NT and make personal applications as they listen personally to the Lord.
- In addition, they memorize close to 70 verses, hiding powerful truths that transform from the inside out in their hearts, giving the Holy Spirit something to work with.
- They apply the Bible to everyday life—from how to handle conflict to stewardship, from marriage and family to work and evangelism. They wrestle with doctrine and apologetics (learning to defend what they believe). They practice what they are learning within their groups.
- DC requires between 4 and 5 hours of study/prep each week outside of group.
- Jesus had high expectations for the men He trained. We are here today because they continued to make disciples long after Christ returned to Heaven. DC has a graduation rate of more than 80%. Most of these graduates go on to serve Christ in a variety of roles in the local church, some have been called into full-time ministry with para-church organizations or have joined staff at a local church. Many make another 21 month commitment to lead a new group through DC.
- Jesus sent his laborers out two-by-two. Every DC group (at Southeast) is facilitated by at least two co-leaders—whose role is not to teach per se, but to facilitate discussion, model Christ-likeness, and engage men in their own wholehearted seeking after God.
God continues to open new doors for this movement of multiplication—moving into women’s ministry and into churches across America. Pilot groups are underway with high school students and on college campuses. Prison doors are beginning to open.
The best part is watching God at work—from transformed marriages to more effective parenting; from work to neighborhood; from the back-bench of a church to various forms of leadership. DC grads are finding great fulfillment in disciple-making and serving the Kingdom—and God is just getting started!