I’m going to share the results of that comparison in several posts: One for introductory matters, one for each of the ministries and one by way of conclusion.
Please feel free to offer your feedback and personal experiences with these ministries, as well as others that should be reviewed.
The introduction gives the purpose of this document, the research process, the metrics being considered and a confession of biases.
Each approach is then summarized, with their respective lists of key websites, books and trainings offered, as well as a summary of notable points utilizing quotes from each ministry’s resources.
There is then a short comparison of the three approaches, highlighting similarities and differences, and suggesting that 3DM is marked by pragmatism, Sonlife by strategy, and Bonhoeffer Project (BP) by theology.
The final section, Conclusions, notes things each would be great at, the gifts they bring to the Body, their Achilles heels, and a summary of each based on the metrics used.
This section, and the document as a whole, ends with a list of residual thoughts and questions.
The purpose of this document is to provide some input for denominational leaders as they seek to “advocate, communicate, recommend and focus on a specific model” while perhaps promoting or communicating other models in a secondary manner. It should also be useful to local church leaders looking for ways to equip and motivate people in disciple-making.
Comparing 3DM, Bill Hull’s Bonhoeffer Project and Sonlife is not an “apples to apples” comparison. In some ways, each of these ministries falls into a different category. Each is about disciple-making, but they are not necessarily all-encompassing discipleship or church ministry programs.
The one category I would place them all in is that each is part of the current “renaissance of biblical disciple-making” in the Western world. Their contributions overlap, but each brings its own strengths and emphases to the table.
My research has been more than cursory but not exhaustive. There may be some assertions I make that those more immersed in one of these ministries might want to challenge. However, my conclusions have not been made hastily or without evidence.
Note that the items in quotes throughout this paper are from books or websites related to each ministry. I haven’t referenced their precise location but can provide them if needed.
Note also that the differing amounts of material for each ministry below is primarily a function of each ministry’s complexity, number of publications and web presence. It should probably not be a weighting factor in evaluating the ministries themselves.
My research included:
- Review of relevant core websites
- Reading several books
- Long term association with Sonlife and review of those materials
- Historical embrace of Bill Hull’s work
- Attendance at Hull’s seminar at the 2016 C&MA in Canada Assembly
- Interview and correspondence with a pastor who is one year into implementing 3DM
- Emails and phone call with Don Roscoe of Sonlife (just prior to beginning this project)
The above bullets hint at some of my Pre-Existing Biases:
- Long association and multiple levels of training with Sonlife, including using their methodology to develop my own DDP (Description of a Discipled Person) which I have used for many years in my pastoral role and ultimately turned into a book.
- Reader of Bill Hull’s work from my earliest years as a pastor, and being especially shaped by his book The Disciple Making Pastor, both in philosophy and practice
- I also place a high value on simplicity and transferability when it comes to ministry issues and this will be evident through this paper
The metrics I was asked to consider include:
- Theological soundness, simplicity and transferability into different cultural contexts
- User friendliness, cost, ease of application especially in relation to smaller churches
- The presence of a pathway for churches to use in building and implementing vision