Is Your Church Ready to Start Living the D-Life?

Church revitalization is a trendy topic at ministry conferences. Most leaders are eager to learn about this important matter. But how many times have you participated in a session on the subject only to leave without a tangible plan for achieving it? Let’s be honest. The best way to experience revitalization in your church is to build a disciple-making culture.

A great number of churches have an “Aaron’s calf” approach to discipleship. When Aaron was confronted about building a golden calf for the Israelites, his explanation was both humorous and outrageous. After explaining to Moses how he got the gold, he said, “I threw it into the fire and out came this calf” (Exodus 32:24). Really, Aaron? Is that the best you could do? This is the worst excuse of all time.

The problem is that church leaders often make a similar excuse.

We fire up our programs and throw in the people. Our hopes are high that out will come a disciple-maker, but one seldom does.

Is this the best we can do? Jesus did not teach us to build discipleship programs. He taught us to make disciples who make disciples. The issue is that many of our programs have become golden calves, and people often love the programs of the church more than they love the mission of the church. This is a problem. In fact, it is idolatry.

The question is, how do you lead your church in transition from a discipleship program to a disciple-making culture? Is it necessary to bury all your programs? Certainly not! However, one thing is essential. You must develop a clear process for making disciples. This is the missing link to building a disciple-making culture.

A disciple-making process is an intentional plan for making disciples who make disciples. It’s not a program or a curriculum, but it’s a way to equip people for a lifestyle of disciple-making.

If you are finished with the Aaron’s calf approach to discipleship, perhaps your church is ready to start living the D-Life.

D-Life is a simple, biblical, missional, and reproducible process of disciple making. It is modeled after Jesus and His six practices of disciple-making, which include: 1) fellowship, 2) teaching, 3) prayer, 4) ministry, 5) multiplication, and 6) accountability. D-Life is a proven plan for making disciples who make disciples. Ministries all over the world are using D-Life to equip and empower their people for a lifestyle of disciple making — anytime and anywhere.

Allan Taylor, former Minister of Education of the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, and currently the Executive Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Concord, Tennessee, says:

 Bill Wilks led my Education Staff at First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Georgia, through the D-Life training. We were absolutely amazed! It is simple, yet profound. It has the basic ingredients of fellowship, Bible study, and prayer; but finally, a discipleship strategy that incorporates ministry, accountability, and . . . drum roll please . . . multiplication! If you are looking for a discipleship process that both makes and multiplies disciples of Jesus Christ, then this is it.

Tim Smith, Discipleship consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in Duluth, Georgia, says:

 I use the D-Life weekly study guides for my personal devotion and also with my D-Group. When leading conferences or when I’m consulting with a church, I share with them about D-Life. I use D-Life because it is Bible based. Nothing creates spiritual growth better than the daily discipline of reading and studying God’s Word. D-Life is discussion oriented so that everyone can be involved. The discussion questions are great. Another reason I use D-Life is the emphasis on shared responsibilities. Each week a different person has a job. They are “praying it,” “telling it,” “reading it,” or “leading it.” The goal of my D-Life group is to reproduce disciple-makers. After a few months of D-Life, everyone is experienced, and they have all they need to lead a new D-Group.”

My wife, Rondie, and I have led D-Life training for many churches and associations all across the country. We would love to come to your church to lead D-Life training. For more information about D-Life or D-Life training go to:

A well-known pastor of a popular mega church talks about “catching spiritual waves” as a key to church growth. But what if church growth was never meant to be that subjective? What if it was really about the objective hard work of living out the Great Commission? I believe it is. Jesus never talked about catching waves but about making disciples. Is your church ready to start living the D-Life? Let’s make our own waves by making disciples who make disciples.

Questions for Interview:

  1. I’ve heard you talk about the “Aaron’s calf” approach to discipleship. What is the Aaron’s calf approach to discipleship?
  2. How can a pastor or ministry leader lead his church in transition from a discipleship program to a disciple-making culture?
  3. What is a true disciple-making process and how is it different from a discipleship program or Bible study curriculum?
  4. As a disciple-making process, what does it mean to live the D-Life?
  5. What services can D-Life provide and how do you schedule D-Life training?

Written by Dr. Bill Wilks. For more information, please contact the Discipleship team of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and schedule a consultation. You can also join the conversation on Facebook!

Published November 11, 2020