Tim Smith knows that believers have been commissioned to make disciples. But he also understands that many believers — even some pastors — don’t know how to disciple because they have never been discipled themselves.
Smith, director of missions for Floyd County Baptist Association in Rome, Georgia, met Bill Wilks, lead pastor of NorthPark Baptist Church in Trussville, Alabama and D-Life author, while serving as the Georgia Baptist Mission Board Sunday School and discipleship director. Wilks told him about D-Life, a Bible-focused, lifestyle approach to discipleship that teaches believers to follow Jesus’ method.
Smith began using D-Life in his personal discipleship, then in the churches he was helping.
“We have been commissioned by Jesus to make disciples and so our life, our lifestyle, should be about making disciples,” Smith explained. “Living the D-Life is giving the people a tool to help them to make disciples.”
Equipping believers for a lifestyle of disciple-making, D-Life teaches them to follow Jesus’ six practices: fellowship, teaching, prayer, ministry, multiplication and accountability. The ultimate goal, Wilks said, is to see a global, grassroots, disciple-making movement.
“D-Life is a lifestyle of disciple-making that people can live anytime and anywhere,” he said. “I often say, ‘You don’t need permission to do the Great Commission.’”
Participants read a Bible chapter every day for five days, Smith noted. As they read, they reflect on the passage and seek ways to apply it to their lives. Then learners gather as a group to discuss what they learned.
“[D-Life] is Bible-focused,” Smith said. “In that group time, there’s accountability. And it’s so important in disciple-making to be accountable.”
Group members share teaching responsibilities, rotating duties like facilitating the meeting, praying, and reading or paraphrasing the passage. That way, they learn from one another while also practicing discipling.
“[Participants] don’t just come and sit and soak,” Smith noted. “They participate and they lead. And so, after six months to 18 months, they’re ready to multiply and go lead their own group.”
“I’ve had people that didn’t know the Lord [and] get saved in the D-life group,” he said.
One unmarried couple made salvation decisions while in a group, and Smith baptized them and later performed their wedding ceremony.
He also has witnessed D-Life participants growing in their faith, Smith said, recalling one who had not prayed in public since Vacation Bible School in third grade. Smith worked with her and encouraged her. When group time came, she led in prayer and now leads her own D-Life group.
“The three-fold purpose of every D-Life D-Group is: 1) to grow in spiritual maturity, 2) to serve in missional ministry and 3) to reproduce disciple-makers,” Wilks stated. “I’ve never been more excited about what God is doing in our church at NorthPark. We are seeing people lead D-Groups who have never led anything like this before.
“Those participating in our D-Groups are growing spiritually … and we are doing more ministry and evangelism in our community than we’ve ever done before.”
As the Georgia mission board’s Sunday School and discipleship director, Smith organized D-Life Legacy and Leadership groups, discipling Georgia pastors and helping them learn to make disciples who make disciples.
“Our churches are not making disciples because our pastors are not making disciples,” Smith lamented. “And the reason our pastors are not making disciples is because they’ve never been discipled before, and so they don’t know how to make a disciple. They know how to preach. They know how to visit in the hospital, but they don’t know how to make a disciple because nobody did it with them.”
Smith invited pastors to join him for weekly Zoom calls during which they learned to create a disciple-making culture, then he walked them through the process of multiplying the approach with believers in their church.
According to Wilks, D-Life Boot Camps offer training for the disciple-making lifestyle. Participants learn a simple, biblical and reproducible process for discipleship.
“In a D-Life Boot Camp, we don’t just talk about disciple-making, but will equip you to be a disciple-maker for the rest of your life,” Wilks declared.
During the four-hour boot camps, believers receive intensive training, learning how to implement the same process Jesus used to make disciples. The camps have a two-fold goal: every participant will leave believing they can live the disciple-making lifestyle and everyone will be equipped for disciple-making.
Smith has facilitated D-Life Boot Camps all over Georgia. In 2022 he will join Wilks to co-teach at NorthPark’s annual Alabama Statewide D-Life Boot Camp in Trussville, Jan. 22 from 9 AM to 1 PM. To register visit www.livethedlife.com/bama.