Our Discipleship Houses
Purpose and history of discipleship houses
Discipleship houses, in one guise or another, have been used throughout the long history of the church to help believers (1) enhance their knowledge of Biblical truth; (2) deepen their walk with God; (3) break out of isolation and become built up with others; (4) become more sold-out and passionately committed; (5) shed destructive habits and cultivate in their place the fruit of the Spirit; (6) learn how to reach the lost; and, finally, (7) become more prophetic - meaning more attuned to contemporary national and world events and what, if anything, the Bible tells us those events portend.
The New Hope Discipleship Houses reflect these purposes. They are modeled after the many discipleship houses that arose during the "Jesus Movement" era of the late 1960s - the last genuine revival that occurred here in America. Tragically, as that revival began to dissipate during the last half of 1970s and early 1980s, discipleship houses began to disappear. And it's no coincidence that their disappearance coincides almost exactly with the emergence of several features that now characterize the American Evangelical church:
- the loss of evangelistic fervor accompanied by an ever decreasing influx of new believers into the Body of Christ overall;
- an unmistakable decline in personal Christian growth (i.e., sanctification) - with fewer and fewer Christians living lives that are any different from the unsaved; e.g., same rate of divorce; same rate of pornographic addiction; etc.
- an indifference to Biblical truth - with fewer and fewer believers lending any real credence to the fundamental doctrines of the Christian Faith and fewer still able to articulate them; and, finally,
- the appearance of churches geared less and less toward God's purposes and more and more toward gratifying the needs of their members and keeping them entertained.
Clearly, the absence of discipleship houses is not the sole or even the main cause underlying the deplorable state of today's evangelical church; however, there's no doubt that bringing them back will go a long way toward turning matters around.
What makes for an effective discipleship house
All truly effective discipleship houses share several common features ...
- A mature leader who can provide on-site encouragement, counseling, and correction.
- A safe neighborhood ...
- with persons living close by who know about the house and who are willing to both welcome and reach-out to the persons living there.
- that's by and large free of the many anxieties and temptations ordinarily found "out on the street" or in run-down neighborhoods.
- A church to which it's linked. A church provides resources that a stand-alone house can't ordinarily marshall on its own.
- A well thought-out program that, at the very least,
- helps the disciples develop a spiritual core consisting of basic Christian truths - truths that provide a sense of purpose, direction, and hope - and afford them the joy of a fresh start;
- prepares the disciples to become gainfully employed so that they can "make their own way" and become less dependent on others for financial assistance;
- helps enrollees shed destructive attitudes and habits and develop constructive ones in their place.