Church offers blueprint for discipleship
by Carol Pipes
For Dhati Lewis and his wife, Angie, eight apparently is not enough. With six kids at home, the couple doubles their household once a year by inviting eight singles to live with them for three weeks. Lewis, the lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta, takes disciple-making to a whole new level.
Nine out of the 11 years they’ve been married, Dhati and Angie have had someone live in their home for the purpose of discipleship.
“We wrestled with the principle of discipleship,” Dhati says. “In all the books I read about how Jesus discipled, one thing was always left out and that was Jesus was with them. Somehow we have to figure out how to be with people. This once-a-week meeting at Starbucks doesn’t seem to be cutting it.”
So Dhati’s solution is what he calls life-on-life discipleship. It’s one of the core principles of Blueprint Church, a multi-ethnic church located in downtown Atlanta.
“We’ve built our discipleship strategy to develop healthy people who are growing in the gospel in the context of family while living on mission,” says Dhati. “Our underlying philosophy at Blueprint is the gospel changes people and people change the world.”
Gospel, family and mission are the disciple-making DNA for the 3-year-old church. More than 400 people gather on Sunday mornings for worship and in missional communities around the Atlanta metro area during the week. That’s quite a growth spurt for a church that started with only a few dozen people.
The church grew from a core group of 35 who moved with Dhati from North Texas in 2009 to launch Blueprint Church in 2010. Of those 35 who helped plant the church, more than 25 of them lived in the Lewis’ home and were personally discipled by Dhati and Angie.
Dhati says 40 percent of the members at Blueprint now have someone living in their homes. “It’s become contagious—discipleship is caught, not taught,” he says. “They see what the leaders are doing and start doing it.
“We’ve never said from the pulpit you have to have people live in your house,” Dhati continues. “But we do say you have to figure out how to intersect your life with others.”
During the three-week Saints in Motion (SIM) class, Angie and Dhati invite four single men and four single women to live with them. This gives them to opportunity to do daily discipleship.
“We show them how to study the Bible, how to manage a checkbook, how to have dinner as a family at the dinner table,” Dhati explains. “When you’re raised in an urban context, you don’t always learn basic life skills. We do life with them.
“Our mission at Blueprint is to unleash healthy people to do ministry where life exists. Life-on-life discipleship is essential to making healthy followers of Christ.”
Carol Pipes is editor of Facts &Trends.
Church: Blueprint Church, Atlanta
Discipleship Method:Life-on-life discipleship
In 2011 Lewis formed an organization called the Rebuild Network (RebuildNetwork.org) as a church planting network geared to teach other urban leaders to do what Blueprint is doing—multiplying urban leaders with the gospel.