Key Bible Passage: John 15:12—This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (NKJV)
Believers 1 Fruitful workers are intentional in their discipling.
Jesus calls his followers to train disciples to obey all that he commanded. Disciples are made, not born. Disciple-making does not occur by accident. Fruitful workers provide intentional guidance, encouragement, and exhortation so that disciples will grow in maturity and obedience.
Believers 2 Fruitful workers disciple in locally appropriate and reproducible ways.
Disciples are more likely to share their faith and make new disciples when all needed books, tools, and resources are locally available. Fruitful workers avoid relying on discipleship manuals that must be ordered from abroad, electronic equipment that is unaffordable for disciples, or training that is only offered elsewhere.
Believers 3 Fruitful workers disciple others in settings that fit the situation.
When meeting with disciples, fruitful workers are deliberate about the location, time, and circumstance. They know that these factors have an effect on the disciple’s availability and readiness for reflection. For example, it is likely more appropriate for women to disciple women in homes during the day. Workers take advantage of every opportunity, both unplanned as well as planned (shopping at the bazaar, or meeting for Bible study). Finally, they look for ways to engage with more than one disciple at the same time.
Believers 4 Fruitful workers help seekers and believers find appropriate ways to identify themselves to their community as followers of Jesus, without imposing their own preferences.
Fruitful workers actively help seekers and believers to consider ways to establish their identity in their community by asking them questions that help them consider their alternatives. They avoid presuming or predetermining this identity for followers of Jesus.
Believers 5 Fruitful workers help believers find ways to remain within their social network.
Most seekers and believers live in strong webs of existing family, social and religious relationships. The gospel is more likely to spread quickly when faith travels through these existing webs. Fruitful workers encourage seekers and believers to maintain these relationships, to share their faith journey with family and friends and to incorporate new seekers and believers into fellowships within those networks.
Believers 6 Fruitful workers encourage believers to develop healthy relationships with other believers.
Seekers and believers need to know that they are not the only ones in their society or family who follow Jesus. Fruitful workers help seekers and believers live in unity by obeying the New Testament commands such as “love one another,” “serve one another,” “honour one another,” and “stop passing judgment on one another” (Romans 12:10, 16; 13:8; 14:13; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:32 and others). Fruitful workers help believers to overcome divisive practices and attitudes such as revenge, jealousy, and gossip.
Believers 7 Fruitful workers model following Jesus in intentional relationships with believers.
Fruitful workers recognize that discipleship is a relational process. While spending many hours with seekers and believers, they reveal their own faith journey. Whether they are drinking tea at a café or praying for the sick, fruitful workers find ways to share relevant biblical stories or teachings from the life of Jesus. Their goal is to demonstrate vibrant faith as a constant follower of Jesus and to coach the seeker and believer to do the same.
Believers 8 Fruitful workers encourage believers to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in applying the Bible to their context.
Rather than imposing their own application and interpretation on biblical passages, fruitful workers help seekers and believers to ask for God’s help as they reflect on biblical truth and apply it to their situation. They encourage seekers and believers to trust that God will answer them when they ask for his help.
Believers 9 Fruitful workers encourage believers to share their faith.
Understanding that discipleship involves witness, fruitful workers motivate seekers and believers to tell others what God is doing in their lives. Believers are more likely to make new disciples when they begin, early in their faith journey, to share what they are learning from the Bible, how God answered their prayers, and what they are learning about Jesus.
Believers 10 Fruitful workers prepare believers to explain why they believe.
While sharing their faith with others in their social webs, seekers and believers often hear scepticism or arguments that raise doubt in their hearts. Fruitful workers strengthen their growing faith by helping them to explain their reasons for believing in Jesus. By anticipating these objections, the worker can share responses with the disciple using the Bible, scientific evidence, or the Quran. The worker’s goal is the disciple’s personal ownership of his or her faith.
Believers 11 Fruitful workers model service to others and teach believers to serve others as well.
In the everyday activities of life, fruitful workers intentionally serve others in every circumstance, explaining that this is how to live as a disciple of Jesus. They encourage seekers and believers to do the same, explaining that faith and good deeds go together. By integrating teaching and practice, they help the disciple to live authentically before a watching community so that the community experiences the goodness of Jesus.
Believers 12 Fruitful workers use various approaches in discipling.
Fruitful workers employ a variety of means while making disciples. For example, a group of disciples may see the Jesus film, experience prayer for healing, and participate in Bible study—all at the same time. Fruitful workers develop a toolbox of approaches and resources to use.
Believers 13 Fruitful workers encourage baptism by other believers with a Muslim background.
The most common method of baptism is an arranged event witnessed by Muslim background believers and sometimes seekers. Cross-cultural workers do not usually conduct the baptism but may be present. Fruitful workers recognise that baptism strengthens the sense of community among believers. Among emerging fellowships, the most common practice is believer’s baptism by immersion.
Believers 14 Fruitful workers deal with sin in biblical ways that are culturally appropriate.
Fruitful workers understand that the biblical principles of correction of sin and restoration, as described in Matthew 18 and Galatians 6:1-2, must be applied within the local cultural context and worldview. In the process of applying biblical teaching, fruitful workers consider local cultural dynamics such as honour and shame, gender roles, community standards, family and clan status, and social standing.
To assess your team on these Fruitful Practices, we encourage you to use our team assessment tool.