FAQ: What is the Discipleship Map?
For several years, our sole discipleship goal for NCCers was “plug into a small group and plug into a ministry.” That’s not a bad goal (that was basically Jesus’ goal-- come follow me in community and I will send you out to make disciples). However, our strategy was not taking into consideration each individual’s spiritual history. We needed to develop a system for helping people grow in their faith that was more strategic than simply “pick a small group, any small group.”
The Discipleship Map was developed out of a desire to provide a systematic, logical yet flexible framework to help people take the next steps in their faith journey. American Poet William Stafford wrote of people who want a “wilderness with a map.” That describes our generation. We want to experience the wild and untamed adventure of life, but at the same time, we desire a roadmap of some sort.
The Discipleship Map includes the groups, retreats, classes, and experiences that we believe every NCCer should participate in during their time at NCC. It is built around the Seeker, Learner, Influencer, Investor framework for discipleship. So, the journey begins with Alpha, a practical introduction to the Christian faith. Then, explorers can move to Journey, an outpost island 8-week small group that prepares people for the map by introducing them to the four dimensions of discipleship (Seeker, Learner, Influencer, and Investor).
Each island has a "port city" that serves as an introduction to that particular dimension of discipleship. Then, each map contains other experiences to help people continue to grow in that particular characteristic. We designed the map so that a person could complete Alpha, Journey, and the 4 port cities in 2 years time-- which is the average length of time we have a person at NCC.
The map is different from most discipleship strategies in the following ways:
- It is not linear. Rather, it is rooted in the belief that discipleship is a journey. Instead of giving a linear set of points to reach or boxes to check off, it gives road markers to help people navigate their spiritual growth.
- It is not one-size-fits-all. It does not assume that everyone needs to learn in the same pattern. There is flexibility to jump in and out as needed.
- It does not have an endpoint. The journey never ends. Individuals are encouraged to explore Alpha, Journey, and the 4 port cities. From there, each island will be populated with other discipleship experiences, and our small groups help people continue their journeys. We never “arrive” at home plate or at the top of a ladder. It is a life-long process of discovery and growth.