Wellspring Church is an approximately 1,000 person community of believers uniting around the vision of glorifying God by making more disciples of Jesus Christ. The church comes from a rich legacy model (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) with a passion to see people come to Christ. In the fall of 2019, a discipleship initiative began to focus on the exponential multiplication of groups in the Hudsonville area with the goal of reaching every resident of Ottawa County with the word of the Lord.

West Michigan continues to be one of the fastest growing areas of the state with approximately 3,200 new residents moving to the area each year. In addition, there are 115 families within a five-mile radius of Wellspring who come from outside the borders of the United States. In 2010, more than 124,000 people in Ottawa County, nearly 50 percent of the population at the time, did not claim religious affiliation (see West Michigan Demographics). These opportunities represent the potential for significant growth in the number of disciple-making “Life Groups” emanating from the Christian community in West Michigan.

What follows is a series of videos and other resources laying out the discipleship model that began to emerge through the initiative of the first discipleship group.

Introducing the Initiative (4:01)

Leader Resources

Characteristics of a Disciple

Maturing Disciples of a Movement

Understanding God’s Will

The Discipleship Pathway

The discipleship pathway focuses on four sequential discipleship groups (Discovery, Growth, Action, and Life) that build from one to the other in a systematic manner that ensures a solid biblical foundation for maturing disciples. The groups are designed to meet on 5-7 occasions during fall and winter months with summer focusing on other ministry opportunities (short-term missions trips, equipping trips, local outreach). The pathway is illustrated below.

The timeframe in transitioning from one group to the next is typically 7-15 weeks. As disciples move from one group to the next, expectations on group participation increase. For example, members of a Discovery Group who transition to the a Growth Group will be preparing to lead a Discovery Group by the time they transition to an Action Group. Each transition requires leaders to increase their commitment to disciple-making. The typical group leader will not only lead his or her group, but also participate in a group with peers. In addition, group leaders will occasionally participate in leadership development seminars and other topical seminars designed to build into their spiritual life.

Introducing Identity Based Discipleship (2:04)

A missiologically theocentric identity, myopically passionate for the pursuit of God’s glory in more people worshiping Him

How to Lead a Discipleship Group (3:30)

The Rhythm of Discipleship

The rhythm of discipleship focuses on specific formation events during the course of a year that build discipleship momentum. During the course of a calendar year, the movement can implement a complete cycle that prepares leaders, conducts personal evangelism, participates in short-term missions trips, catalyzes a large evangelistic event, and forms new Discovery Groups while continuing Growth, Action, and Life Groups.

Explaining Exponential Growth (2:28)

Phase 1: Discovery Group

Discovery Groups are typically comprised of new disciples or disciples new to Wellspring’s discipleship pathway and the groups are led by facilitators who are a part of a Growth or Action Group. The core content of a Discovery Group is focused on basic discovery Bible studies that encourage disciples to learn who they are in their identity as followers of Christ. The typical Discovery Group meets weekly for five to seven weeks and covers information the Bible Studies outlined in the table below.

The Topical Studies are designed to help the disciple go deeper into the study of the Christian life. They can be completed individually or in one-on-one discipleship. The Ephesian Study is designed especially for the Discovery Group meeting with discovery questions that help new disciples grow in their belief in God, their understanding of what it looks like to live as a Christian, and the importance of gathering together as a community of believers.

Topical StudiesEphesian Study
Security in Christ
Biblical Love
Our Identity in Christ
Overcoming Sin
Preparing a Personal Testimony
Personal Evangelism 

Why Ephesians? (1:32)

Leader Resources

More Details in Development

Phase 2: Growth Group

Growth Groups are comprised of Discovery Group leaders and are led by Action Group members. The core content of a Growth Group is focused on intermediate discovery Bible studies and a study of Jesus’s life based on the Gospel of John. These studies encourage disciples to share their faith and use their spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. Members of the Growth Group actively share their faith in their network and community as well as participate in following up evangelistic events.

The Topical Studies are designed to help the disciple go deeper into the study of the Christian life. They can be completed individually or in one-on-one discipleship. The Gospel of John Study is designed especially for the Growth Group meeting with discovery questions that help new disciples grow in their belief in God, their understanding of what it looks like to live as a Christian, and the importance of gathering together as a community of believers.

Topical StudiesGospel of John

Why the Gospel of John?

Leader Resources

More Details in Development

Phase 3: Action Group

Action Groups are comprised of Growth Group leaders and are led by Life Group members. The core content of an Action Group is focused on advanced discovery Bible studies that encourage the Growth Group leaders to transition their Growth Groups to Action Groups. Participants in an Action Group actively share their faith in their network and community as well as participate in following up evangelistic events.

The Topical Studies are designed to help the disciple go deeper into the study of the Christian life. They can be completed individually or in one-on-one discipleship. The 1 Timothy Study is designed especially for the Action Group meeting with discovery questions that help new disciples grow in their belief in God, their understanding of what it looks like to live as a Christian, and the importance of gathering together as a community of believers.

Topical Studies1 Timothy

Why 1 Timothy?

Leader Resources

More Details in Development

Phase 4: Life Group

Life Groups are led by mature leaders who participate in ongoing biblical, theological, and leadership development in a community of leaders. Life Groups exhibit the five characteristics of the New Testament church found in Acts 2:42-47 (Bible Teaching, Corporate Prayer, Worship, Fellowship, and Missions). The typical Life Group will take a biblical and theological approach to Scripture and study books of the Bible in community encouraging participation of members. The initial core study focuses on the NT movement in Ephesus and the key components of a healthy, multiplying church. Participants in a Life Group actively share their faith in their network and community as well as participate in following up evangelistic events. Leaders are those individuals who have been identified by the body of Christ with the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, or shepherd-teacher (APES-T). Life Groups are praying about and pursuing the following:

  • Taking part in planting new churches both in the United States and abroad
  • Participation in Short-Term Equipping Teams to train church leaders around the world
  • Developing New Testament Leaders
Topical Studies2 Timothy

Why 2 Timothy?

Leader Resources

More Details in Development

The Challenge of Co-vocation Ministry (5:14)