Transforming Discipleship


Have a heart for discipleship? Need guidance and wisdom on what it looks like in a post-Christian culture? You're not alone. Join pastor Oliver Hersey, as he hosts relevant and thoughtful conversations with seasoned ministry practitioners on how to make disciples and build communities that transform lives. Email the podcast at discipleship@smallgroups.com.

Pete Scazzero on Slow, Deep Discipleship in The Early ChurchNicky Gumbel on How the Church Can Help People in the Wake of This PandemicFive Discipleship Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus, with Rich VillodasWhy Jesus Called Levi, the Tax Collector to Follow Him
How can you model your small groups after Levi’s house? In this episode, Oliver Hersey tells the story of Jesus calling Levi, or Matthew, the tax collector to follow Him. Many Christian scholars believe that Levi also wrote the gospel of Matthew, and witnessed the Ascension of Jesus, according to the Oxford Bible Commentary the Gospels. “After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him (Lk. 5:27-32).”  Soon after this encounter, Levi invited Jesus, and his tax-collector friends over for dinner, to dine with Jesus. The Pharisees questioned why Jesus would dine with sinners, and tax collectors. In response, Jesus said “And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Mk. 2:17).” Oliver indicated that Alpha is a small group ministry, that encourages seekers, and non-believers to ask questions about Christianity, in a welcoming environment. “The genius is that all it involves is food, and people, and drink and the presence of Jesus. He will grab people’s attention, when it’s time to,” Oliver said. If you work in ministry, there’s a good chance you’ve already left many things behind to follow Jesus. Holding onto your desire for greatness, fame, love, comfort, and convenience might still be a temptation, though. Here are a few questions to consider, if you'd like to start small group(s), where everyone matters: How can you model your small groups after Levi’s House? Have you left behind your desire for greatness? Are sinners welcome at your small group? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 15 2021
20 mins
Kristyn Getty on Singing Classic Hymns with Her Family and Church
Why is singing an important part of worship? Kristyn Getty and her husband, Keith wrote a book entitled “Sing: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family and Church” that explores this question, in light of the Christian faith. They’re both known as modern hymn writers, and global ambassadors for the genre. Kristyn and Keith are best known for the modern hymn “In Christ Alone.” She aims to write beautiful songs that people can sing, highlighting Biblical truths, with stylistic influences from early hymn writers. Since she became a mom in 2011, she started wondering what it meant to teach her children how to sing. Kristyn said “We started doing a hymn a month with our kids, and that has been a wonderful thing.” Last month, they taught their children “It Is Well with My Soul” which has led to questions about who Satan is, and what it means to have assurance.  “What we sing is incredibly important. So much of what we sing is what we remember, and how we talk about our faith, how we pray, how we share our faith with unbelievers,” she said. Singing is an extension of our prayer life, and allows scripture to “dwell in us,” according to Kristyn. She indicated that the congregation is the ultimate choir, and is the life blood of the church. She said “There are some churches that sing robustly and have very carefully crafted worship services. Maybe it’s going down a liturgical path. And other churches have a more loose approach to how things are put together.”  Check out what was referenced on the podcast: Sing! In Christ Alone: Getty Music Worship Conference C.S. Lewis’ Essay on “Three Ways of Writing for Children” Rate Transforming Discipleship on Apple Podcasts Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram Produced by Kelsey Bowse, edited by Alex Carter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jun 1 2021
37 mins
John Stott, and the Mission of God’s People, with Dr. Christopher WrightPraying with Both Eyes Open, with J.R. Briggs
How can you live in the tension of the ‘now, and not yet?’ Oliver Hersey and J.R. Briggs, author of The Sacred Overlap - Learning to Live in the Space In Between reflect on the mystery of the Christian life, as it relates to prayer, community and difficult questions we wrestle with. Briggs said “If you think about the overlapped life – it’s kind of like closing one eye. You can still see, but your depth perception and your peripheral vision is skewed significantly. We need both eyes in order to see with sharpness, clarity and depth.”  He talks about the “mandorla,” an almond shaped frame of light that surrounds holy persons in Christian art. Briggs said this concept has been around for a long time. He pointed out that the trinity symbol, includes the mandorla, two overlapping circles with a space in between. Briggs argued that Western culture is uncomfortable with the mystery of faith, due to the Enlightenment. He said “Eastern culture is much more comfortable with mystery, and not having everything solved. That’s the world that Jesus grew up in. If we only understand Him on facts, but we don’t let him be God in the mystery, we really miss out.” J.R. Briggs is the founder of Kairos Partnerships. He hosts the Resilient Leaders podcast, and serves on the Board of Directors with Jerusalem University College. Rate Transforming Discipleship on Apple Podcasts Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram Produced by Kelsey Bowse, edited by Alex Carter  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
May 4 2021
44 mins
When the Masks Come OffRecovering the Lost Art of Discipleship
How can you participate in the divine life? Oliver Hersey and Dr. Cherith Fee Nordling, Associate Professor at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies at Regent College explore this question, in light of the Trinity.  She said “He is still incarnate, embodied, busy and is happy to invite us to be part of things.” Her students are blown away, when they find out that Jesus still has a body, is around 5’4’’ tall and Palestinian. Christological heresies often seek to simplify how Christ's humanity and divinity can be reconciled. For example, Docetism is a belief that Jesus’s human body wasn’t real; and Apollinarism, argues that Jesus had a human body, with a divine mind. Buying into heresies like this can lead people to misconceptions about Jesus, and our own identity: that our physical bodies don't matter after death, or that Jesus is no longer incarnate. "The heresies of the church are an attempt over 2,000 years, to try to simplify or to reduce the mystery of the fact that this is God in in our midst. We want to make him reasonable in our thinking,” according to Dr. Nordling. They also discuss Andrei Rublev’s icon of The Trinity, or the Hospitality of Abraham which depicts the three angels who visited Abraham at the Oak of Memre in Genesis 18:1-8. The icon shows how Jesus invites us into the divine life.   Rate Transforming Discipleship on Apple Podcasts Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram Produced by Kelsey Bowse, edited by Alex Carter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Apr 6 2021
58 mins
What is Progressive Christianity? with Alisa Childers
What defines Progressive Christianity? In this episode, Oliver Hersey and producer, Kelsey Bowse explore that question with Alisa Childers, author of Another Gospel: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity. She was also a member of ZOEgirl, a Christian band that toured from 1999-2013, with bands like Natalie Grant, and TobyMac Childers argues that Christians should be able to give an “apologia,” or defense for their faith. She said “every Christian should have a working knowledge, for at least the resurrection, and some basic Biblical reliability issues.” She drew attention to 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. Her book, Another Gospel includes nine denials that define Progressive Christianity. In this conversation, Childers outlines the following denials: the authority of the Bible, the sin nature of man, and the reality of sin that separates us from God. When asked about Hell – she cited J.I. Packer ‘Hell is the negation of fellowship with the Lord, the negation of pleasure, the negation of any form of contentment.” Childers also added “if someone doesn’t like God now, they’re not going to want to be with him for eternity.” Her friend J. Warner Wallace outlines three things that take ministers down: sex, money and power. She indicated that Progressive Christians like Nadia Bolz-Weber are telling people “you can have all of those things.” That’s why, for some people, this message, is appealing – even though it’s antithetical to the Gospel. You can also listen to the Alisa Childers Podcast. Rate Transforming Discipleship on Apple Podcasts Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram Produced by Kelsey Bowse, edited by Alex Carter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Mar 23 2021
49 mins
Caring for Your Soul, with Mindy CaliguireScot McKnight on Toxic Cultures, Truth-Telling and Discipleship
Feb 23 2021
34 mins
Discipleship in the Wilderness of Lent, with Jen Pollock MichelFaithful Discipleship in Idolatrous Times, with Dr. Christopher Wright
How do you know if you’re worshiping an idol? In this episode, Oliver Hersey and Dr. Christopher Wright, author of Here Are Your Gods: Faithful Discipleship in Idolatrous Times explore this question. Idols existed in ancient cultures, and now exist in a different form: as sports stadiums, national symbols, or even as political figures (the president, or prime minister) and are meant to display what is “powerful” or “awesome.”  We live in a fallen world, yet aim to live by God’s standards and values. Wright indicated that learning to “negotiate the difference” creates tension for Christians. Dr. Wright said “We want to rule our own lives. Idolatry is the very essence of self-exaltation over and above God. It goes back to the Garden of Eden. When human beings reject the authority of God, and God’s right to tell us what we may and may not do. We decide to choose that for ourselves. Then of course, we’ve begun to push God off of his throne, and exalt other things.”   He lives in London and serves as the International Ministries Director of Langham Partnership International, a ministry founded by John Stott. Dr. Wright also ministers to parishioners at All Souls Church in London and has a PhD from Cambridge University in Theology. He is also the author of The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. You can also learn more about Dr. Wright’s recent book on Christianity Today’s website.  Rate Transforming Discipleship on Apple Podcasts Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram Produced by Kelsey Bowse, edited by Alex Carter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Jan 26 2021
22 mins
Nicky Gumbel on Marriage, and Alpha Ministry in the UK
Jan 12 2021
23 mins
How to Inspire People to Join Small GroupsDiscovering “The Why” For Your Small Group Ministry
What is your ministry context for small groups? Depending on your church, and the cultural norms where you live, small groups will look different. In this episode, Oliver Hersey and Bill Search, contributors at smallgroups.com talk about types of small groups, and what elements make up a healthy small group. Bill said “Small groups, almost all of them have emphasis on relationships, some sort of emphasis on spiritual growth, Bible study and somewhere woven in is an outward perspective, whether it’s praying for people, or serving as a group.” For some pastors, safety is major concern in planning logistics for small group ministry. A pastor from Nairobi, Kenya said “In the evening it’s not safe for people to be out on certain streets in certain areas. So having an evening small group isn’t going to work for us. What do you recommend?” Oliver pointed to groups like Celebrate Recovery, and Alpha – for new people in the church who need a foundation for their faith. He said “We’re creating these Alpha groups – that are really discussion based groups, safe places for people to explore faith. Check out what was referenced on the podcast: Bill Search’s book Vibrant Small Groups: A 5-Step Process to Create a Ministry That Fits Your Church. Christianity Today. 2020 “Running Alpha” (website), Alpha International, updated October 3, 2019.  Celebrate Recovery’s website   Rate Transforming Discipleship on Apple Podcasts Follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram Produced by Kelsey Bowse, edited by Alex Carter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Dec 15 2020
21 mins
Sean Brakey on What Churches Can Learn From AirbnbAdvent: Reorienting How We Live in TimeEveryone Discipled and Discipling, with Sean Brakey