Four Chair Discipling

4 chair

I am currently reading an excellent book by Dann Spader called 4 Chair Discipling.  In this book, Spader takes a look at Jesus’ life and ministry and pulls out principles for us to strive for as we seek to make disciples.  Each chair represents a stage in the growth process in the Christian life.  Spader identifies how Jesus’ method of teaching and ministry can be applied in our groups and churches.  He also explains the practical needs of people in each stage; seeker, new believer, worker, and disciple-maker.  Here is a summary of each chair (adapted from appendix 3 in the book).  Hopefully this can be helpful for you as you seek to follow Jesus’ heart to make disciples in your life and ministry.  A great evaluation tool!

  Chair 1 Chair 2 Chair 3 Chair 4
Challenge Come and See (John 1:29) Follow Me (John 1:43) Follow Me… Fish for People (Mt. 4:19) Go and Bear Fruit (Mt. 4:19)
Description Dead/Lost Children Young Men Father (parent)
Biblical Name Seeker Believer Worker Disciple-Maker
Biblical Concept Win Build Equip Multiply
Basic Needs Gospel


Christian friends








Other models


Skills Needed Walk


Feed themselves

Clean themselves


Tell God’s story

Feed others

Holy Spirit POWER


Defend truth

Teach Word right

Holy lifestyle

Lasting Fruit No Fruit Fruit More Fruit Much Fruit
Other Needs CPR, cultivate, plant, reap Milk Meat Meat
Further Description Confused








Language Me-istic I Oriented We oriented Others oriented

Chair 1: The Lost “Come and See” (John 1:29)


The seeker who is spiritually dead who we need to reach out to and win for Christ.

The Process Modeled by Jesus

  1. Left the comforts of heaven and entered our world.
  2. He prepared himself for thirty years, learning the context and culture in which he was sent.
  3. He made himself available and intentionally developed relationships.
  4. He responded to those who showed interest.
  5. Jesus challenged seekers to repent and believe. (Mt. 3:2)

The Needs (Christian friends, answers, The Gospel)

  1. Relationships with Christians who are willing to be in their world.
  2. Need to get their answers, concerns, and objections addressed.
  3. Need Christians who make themselves available.
  4. Someone to present the gospel clearly to them.

Principles for Ministry

  1. Come and see challenge is simple and we can do it, make friendships.
  2. Outreach is a process—Cultivate, Plan, Reap (Is. 28:25-26)
  3. Jesus Christ is the only means by which a person can be saved into a personal relationship with God.
  4. Evangelism is most effective when we are motivated by love.
  5. Evangelism is a byproduct of a healthy body.
  6. Evangelism is best achieved through relationships.
  7. We reap in proportion to what we sow


Chair 2: The Believer “Follow Me” (John 1:43)


The new believer who is young in the faith and needs to be built up in the faith.

The Process Modeled by Jesus

Jesus modeled six foundational priorities in his new followers Holy Spirit POWER

  1. Dependence on the Spirit
  2. Prayer
  3. Obedience to the Father
  4. Word of God
  5. Exalting the Father in everything
  6. Relationships—that are intentional and loving

The Needs (Identity, Explanation, Parenting)

  1. Know their true identity
  2. Learn to walk on own.  Develop a relationship with God.
  3. Learn to talk.  Learn to share God’s story and their story (testimony)
  4. Learn to be self-feeders of the Word—how to study and apply
  5. Potty training—importance of confession, repentance, and reliance anew on the Spirit

Principles for Ministry

  1. Without immediate nurture, new Christians wills struggle and, in many cases, won’t survive.
  2. Need to give personalized attention to the basics of the Christian life and teach them.\
  3. Must not forget the importance of identity in Christ.
  4. Spiritual children need a family, the church.


Chair 3: The Worker “Follow me…fishers of men” (Matt 4:19)


The worker in God’s kingdom who needs to be equipped to serve.

The Process Modeled by Jesus

We look for those who are AFTER more!

  • Available, Faithful, Teachable, Enthusiastic, Responsive to leadership.

4 Major Transitions:

  1. Transition in leadership—from John Baptist.
  2. Transition of location—to Capernaum
  3. Transitions of message—repent and kingdom is near.
  4. Transition of calling—to be in Jesus’ ministry team being taught to reproduce—one that would involve servanthood, sacrifice, and suffering.

The Needs (Ministry, Opportunities, Peers)

  1. To see and experience God use them.
  2. How to rely in the Spirit for strength to do ministry.
  3. Learn new skills for ministry, be equipped (Eph. 4:12)—repair and prepare.
  4. Learn endurance.

Principles for Ministry

  1. Chair three is not easy, but it is for our joy (Php. 3:10)
  2. Many believers do not make it through chair 3.  Takes a conscious choice to persevere!
  3. It takes time to mature to parenthood.
  4. Relax and enjoy the journey.


Chair 4: The Disciple-Maker “Go and Bear Fruit” (John 15:16)


The disciple-maker who is making disciples who needs to be helped to multiply life and ministry.

The Process Modeled by Jesus

Jesus took three and a half years to invest in a few and build a movement of multiplying disciples.  Jesus had taken his disciples from seekers (John 1:39) to followers (John 10:27) to coworkers (Matthew 4:19) and then finally to disciple-makers (Luke 10:2).

The Needs (Wisdom, Other models, Mentors)

  1. Help with dealing with those who attack the disciple-making strategy (who disagree from within)
  2. Help in succeeding in the unique ministry God had put on their heart.  Takes defining mission, clarifying values, establishing faith, building goals and plans.

Principles for Ministry

  1. Our goal is multiplication—to leave and go “bear fruit”
  2. They may look like the enemy.  Can look like competition because they are often out launching new ministries and recruiting new people.
  3. May look very different than one another.  Can be messy.  Can be a wide range of possibilities.

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