The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Does Media-Based Discipleship Work?

Posted on: May 12, 2015

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What is the role of relationships vs. electronic media in discipleship?

Electronic media, meaning DVD and internet-based curriculum, can be a big help in discipleship if it is the right electronic media, and if it is used in the right way. But it will never replace the centrality of personal relationships in discipleship.

With the surge in on-line ministry degree programs, the rush to DVD-based curriculum in churches, and the avalanche of internet-based discipleship resources, the Church must have a keen eye and steady nerves to decide whether or not such resources actually achieve spiritually desirable results.

There are five things media can do very well in a church-based discipleship process.

  1. Create interest and hold attention.
  2. Present large amounts of information quickly and effectively.
  3. Integrate different educational methodologies, increasing educational impact.
  4. Increase the effectiveness of a person’s ministry by taking less time for preparation and by creating an engaging ministry environment.
  5. Guarantee delivery of reliable content that could potentially be weakened, distorted or corrupted by ungifted, ill-equipped or false teachers.

Because the communication of information is essential in the discipleship process, media can be a powerful resource for discipleship.

However, there is more to discipleship than accurate and engaging delivery of information. There are necessary elements to discipleship that electronic media cannot do.

Electronic media:

  • Cannot develop a personal relationship with the viewer.
  • Cannot model the Christian life for the viewer, showing by example how to live.
  • Cannot see when a viewer is misbehaving, and confront the misbehavior.
  • Cannot assess how a viewer is progressing, and alter the discipleship approach based on individual need.
  • Cannot detect when a viewer is in need of encouragement, or network one viewer with others who could be valuable allies in the discipleship journey.

So, this gives us two extremes to avoid. The one extreme is to give oneself over completely to video-based and internet material, neglecting the role of individual, personal ministry. The other is to reject video ministry altogether.

Electronic media and the internet are here to stay. And the appetite for media, especially in younger generations, is going to grow, not shrink. So, it is to our advantage to discern how to effectively use electronic media in the discipleship process, balancing it with personal ministry, crafting a strategy to use the best of both worlds while avoiding the worst. In coming weeks, we will explore more specifically how to create a balance. I hope you’ll join us.


If you know someone you think may find this blog valuable, please share it with them. I am always glad to hear from readers, and you can write to me at max@bravenewdiscipleship.com. I will not be able to reply to all emails, but I will answer some, and I may address in future blogs the questions/issues you raise.