Here is my summary and overview of Sonlife Ministries:
I. Key websites:
Sonlife.com: Primary website
Live26.org: Their “learning community” website
4chairdiscipling.com: Related to the book, free small group videos
II. Key books:
Read by me:
Growing a Healthy Church
4 Chair Discipling
Previous Sonlife training material
Walking as Jesus Walked
Discipling as Jesus Discipled
See http://store.sonlife.com/ for more resources
III. Training offered:
4 Chair Discipling Seminar: https://www.sonlife.com/training-curriculum/be-a-disciple-maker/4-chair-discipling-seminar/
• “A half-day seminar about the stages of growth Jesus addressed in the people He met. For disciples, ministry teams, and leaders.”
• $500 (includes 20 admissions) + $25 for each additional attendee, $40 for walk-ins. Plus refreshment and travel, meals, lodging for trainer
Muvement Seminar: https://www.sonlife.com/training-curriculum/begin-a-discipleship-movement/muvement-seminar/
• A full-day seminar for ministry leaders and their teams.
• “This training is designed to help ministry leaders gain a simple yet fresh glimpse into the process of movement-building, based on the “Son’s life”.”
• Cost: $500, refunded if more than 30 attendees. $70 per attendee, free for spouses, discounts for groups of varying sizes; Plus refreshment and travel, meals, lodging for trainer.
• An annual 3-4 day event with advanced training, coaching and certification.
Live 2:6: https://www.sonlife.com/training-curriculum/begin-a-discipleship-movement/
• An intense 12-month study of the model, mission, motive and method of Jesus, facilitated by an experienced ministry mentor.
• For those familiar with the previous trainings, this is like an expanded Strategy seminar and first year Advanced
• Developing a vision for leadership multiplication.
Israel Study Tours
• 10-12 days studying through the life of Christ on location
Note that they also have the student focused training and events. For example: http://torontoremix.com/
IV. Summary of Sonlife:
Sonlife has been around since the 1979. It started as a model for youth ministry based on Jesus’ model for disciple making. It then became a model for discipleship for the church as a whole. Like the other ministries here, they draw concepts from A.B. Bruce’s Training of the Twelve and Robert Colemans’s Master Plan of Evangelism.
• “Sonlife is a training organization that trains, coaches and mentors leaders, providing a fresh encounter with Jesus as our model for making and multiplying disciples.”
A key teaching is the need to balance the ministries of a church between Winning the Lost, Building the Believer, Equipping the Worker and Multiplying Leaders, rather than just defaulting to Building as many churches do.
They see four phases in Jesus’s ministry with his disciples and see these phases as a model for disciple making today. This has been highlighted most recently in Dann Spader’s 4 Chair Discipling.
• “The four phases of His [Jesus’] ministry provide a permanent guideline for our own. 1. Build an environment for growth 2. Train a team for ministry 3. Mobilize for evangelism 4. Multiply your leadership base.”
Definition of Disciple Making:
• “Out of my love for God, using my gifts and talents, to multiply the character and priorities of Christ in as many people as possible.”
• “True multiplication occurs only when disciples are trained in evangelism and disciple building.”
• “When you catch a glimpse of discipling from this perspective, you realize it must mean helping people follow Christ from wherever they are spiritually. Therefore, a true discipling ministry will include every aspect of winning people to the Savior, building them up in their faith, and equipping them to win and build others.”
Like 3DM, they recognize a tension with the ministries of many existing churches:
• “As strange as it may seem, I have found again and again that Chair 4 disciple-makers become almost the enemy of the traditional church system.”
They also understand the reality of ministry:
• “After thirty years of training in disciple-making, I’m often asked what is my best description of what a healthy disciple-making ministry looks like? My answer is simple: it is messy.”
Sonlife offers a spectrum of training and materials for everyone from youth to lay people to ministry leaders and pastors. Their primary trainings, 4 Chairs and Muvement are designed to hosted by local churches. Training is available to equip people to lead these events as well.
• “Sonlife’s disciple-making resources, including our 4 Chair Discipling book, help you understand how to apply Jesus’ process to your own ministry, whether you’re a part-time volunteer doing one-on-one disciple-making, a youth pastor leading student groups, a bi-vocational church-planter growing a new ministry, or a full-time minister leading in an established church.”
I am grateful to Don Roscoe, long time Sonlife trainer, for providing the following overview. Click the graphic too see a larger version.