The Structure of the Discipleship House

The structure of the discipleship is the vehicle by which the culture of discipleship is created. Like it was mentioned before, the less structured the house is, the less able to collectively be able to focus on discipleship in the house. In other words, you just end up with a group of Christian girls living together and that's all it really is - which is not a bad thing - however it's not a discipleship house. It should be noted that you can over-structure a discipleship home if the structure alone becomes the focus. The focus should simply be to create a culture of discipleship with a high bar of what it means to be a disciple.

The structure should remove things that are common stumbling blocks for disciples of Jesus.

Each area of structure needs to be rooted in love and a concept of "laying down ones rights" in order do what is best for others. This is practically found at the end of 1 Corinthians 10 where Paul encourages believers to "do things for the glory of God" and "to not be a stumbling block" when it comes to issues of conscience.  The idea is that there is freedom in Christ but that freedom shouldn't be used to hinder other, more immature believers. 

This principle needs to be built into the structure as disciples living in the house will struggle with different things and be coming from life situations involving:

  • Pornography and sexual immorality

  • Alcohol and drug abuse

  • Suicidal thoughts and depression

  • Relationship after relationship looking for fulfillment

  • Smoking

  • Abuser or abused 

 

Believers can come from a background involving one or more of the issues listed above. Tragic and sinful as these things are, they are all fairly normal as we are part of a fallen, human race. The discipleship house should have a structure that will provide a space where temptations are removed to an extent to allow disciples to focus on Jesus. This allows members to practice what the writer of Hebrew speaks of when he talks about "laying aside all hindrances ...to  run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12). 

Here is a comprehensive list of all the areas that need to be addressed by the structure of the house to best promote an environment of discipleship. You will notice that many of these things are not inherently evil, rather they are common hindrances and stumbling blocks. 

Guns

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If you allow them, they could potentially be available to someone battling demonic oppression or struggling with suicidal thoughts.

If you don't allow them, it might be difficult for someone who own guns or is a hunter and it would be an inconvenience for them to keep them off-sight somewhere else. 

If you removed guns, won't someone just use a kitchen knife or something? Should we bubble wrap everything in the house?  Guns are a good starting point but each situation may need handled differently. 

How should the discipleship

house handle guns?

Alcohol & Drugs

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Illegal drugs should be a no brainer to have a policy on.

Most likely you will have men or women in the house who struggle with alcoholism to some degree so if you allow alcohol you are doing someone like that a dis-service by letting it be easily accessible. 

The other two options are to prohibit it only from the house or prohibit disciples from alcohol entirely. 

I think the best, balanced approach is to restrict alcohol on the discipleship house premise.  

How should the discipleship

house handle alcohol and drugs?

Phones / Internet

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Cellphones and the internet are good and bad. They can be huge time wasters and portals to sin in major ways. Most recovery ministries prohibit use of phones and the internet entirely for some period of time at first. 

If you did that, you couldn't really have people with jobs or students live in the house. 

Another idea is to require filtering and accountability software on devices like covenant eyes or accountable 2 you. These help mitigate temptation and allow for transparence and accountability.  This is what the Refuge Discipleship Houses does. 

How should the discipleship house handle cellphones and internet usage?

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They say that nothing good happens after midnight. For the most part, that is true. Having a curfew provides accountability for where disciples are at night and perhaps keeps them from compromising situations and temptations. It also encourages disciples to go to sleep at a heathy time so they can get up early for time with Jesus. 

How tightly this is held to and how easy is it to get an exception is what needs decided.

Curfew

Should the discipleship

house have a curfew?

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Some movies and TV shows can be really educational and foster community well in the house. While other shows and movies can be very much against the Christian worldview. Not to mention including content that can be a hindrance to those seeking to follow Jesus. 

Plugged In is a Christian group that has put together a database of TV shows and movies and has a star ranking system based on sexual content, language and violence that can be used to determine what's ok to watch in the house. 

Movies / TV

How should the discipleship

house handle movies and TV?

Work & School

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Work and school are both major responsibilities in life and opportunities to interact more with other non-believers. A discipleship house should never be somewhere someone is just staying to "have a roof over their head" or else it loses it's emphasis on discipleship. Each member should be required to have some kind of work or school or ministry in order to live in the house. 

That being said, often work and school can become a hindrance as well in some ways. For instance, a late night shift that causes you to miss church every week.  Discipleship needs to remain the central focus, not just getting people good jobs or education. 

How should the discipleship

house handle work and school?

Romance

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Romance and dating can be a good thing that God uses to lead you to the person he wants you to marry. 

However, it can also be one of the biggest hindrances of a new believer - often times creating more distraction, confusion, and temptation. 

This area needs addressed per individual to get it the appropriate amount of respect it deserves.  Some may need to commit to singleness while they live in the house. Others, with the guidance of a mentor, may be able to navigate these relationship waters safely.  The focus is entirely on Jesus not on finding a life mate. 

How should the discipleship

house handle romantic relationships?

Guests

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It's one thing to have guests and friends over for dinner or to hang out. A completely different thing to have guests staying the night. This could be something you completely don't allow, or something that requires approval of the house leadership.  For instance, it might be fine for cousin Bob to stay over for a couple nights, but totally different from jobless Jimmy to bum a place to stay for a month.  

There's a difficult distinction between generosity and enabling.  Especially if someone is wanting to stay over for an extended period of time, they should be on board with what the house is about - discipleship.

How should the discipleship

house handle house guests?

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Video games aren't inherently evil.  However, they are rarely an enhancer to one's relationship with Jesus.  Many Christian men and women are too preoccupied by video games to give much attention to God. This is why at discipleship houses, video games should be greatly limited or just done away with entirely - as there are no great men of God I know who pend much time playing video games.  There may be some way to work out how to use video games as a way to bring the house together to play something. But for the most part, they are great hindrances to a deep walk with Jesus. 

Video Games

How should the discipleship

house handle video games?

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Part of having a structured discipleship house requires certain things are are part of the experience that are expected to be attended.  Things like church, discipleship meetings, prayer nights etc.  Not to say that there aren't exceptions due to difficult life circumstance (a family funeral for instance). 

However, there should be a high commitment to showing up to things - similar to how people show up to work. Far too often disciples treat spiritual things with the commitment level of a leisurely event.  The commitment may be that it's ok to miss one thing per month or something like that. 

Time Commitment

What should the discipleship house have as an expected time commitment?

That covers some of the main areas to help create this culture of discipleship. However, there may be more specific structures that need set up given the specific members and part of the world this get established in. The Refuge Discipleship has settled on a certain number of guidelines and present them in the form of a contract to the disciple - which can be view by clicking here:

What should leadership look like? And how does someone get "approved to live in the house" ...how does someone get kicked out?