This post is part of our Discipleship Q&A Series

Over the past few weeks, we have been answering the top 10 questions we get about disciplemaking. This week we cover questions 1 and 2:

Question 2: What is a HEAR Journal?

The H.E.A.R. journaling method promotes reading the Bible with a life-transforming purpose. No longer will your focus be on checking off the boxes on your daily reading schedule; your purpose will instead be to read in order to understand and respond to God’s Word.

The acronym H.E.A.R. stands for Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond. Each of these four steps contributes to creating an atmosphere to hear God speak. After settling on a reading plan and establishing a time for studying God’s Word, you will be ready to H.E.A.R. from God.

For an illustration, let’s assume that you begin your quiet time in the book of 2 Timothy, and today’s reading is the first chapter of the book. Before reading the text, pause to sincerely ask God to speak to you. It may seem trite, but it is absolutely imperative that we seek God’s guidance in order to understand His Word (1 Corinthians 2:12-14). Every time we open our Bibles, we should pray the simple prayer that David prayed: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law (Word)” (Psalm 119:18).

After praying for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, open your notebook or journal, and at the top left-hand corner, write the letter H. This exercise will remind you to read with a purpose. In the course of your reading, one or two verses will usually stand out and speak to you. After reading the passage of Scripture, highlight each verse that speaks to you by copying it under the letter “H”. Write out the following:

  • The name of the book
  • The passage of Scripture
  • The chapter and verse numbers that especially speak to you
  • A title to describe the passage

This practice will make it easier to find the passage when you want to revisit it in the future.

After you have highlighted the passage, write the letter “E” under the previous entry. At this stage you will EXPLAIN what the text means. By asking some simple questions, with the help of God’s Spirit, you can understand the meaning of a passage or verse. The next chapter will teach you in detail how to understand the meaning of a passage. Until then, here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Why was this written? 
  • To whom was it originally written?
  • How does it fit with the verses before and after it?
  • Why did the Holy Spirit include this passage in the book? 
  • What is He intending to communicate through this text? 

At this point, you are beginning the process of discovering the specific and personal word that God has for you from His Word. What is important is that you are engaging the text and wrestling with its meaning.

After writing a short summary of what you think the text means, write the letter “A” below the letter “E”. Under the “A”, write the word Apply. This application is the heart of the process. Everything you have done so far culminates under this heading. As you have done before, answer a series of questions to uncover the significance of these verses to you personally, questions like:

  • How can this help me?       
  • What does this mean today? 
  • What would the application of this verse look like in my life? 
  • What does this mean to me? 
  • What is God saying to me? 

These questions bridge the gap between the ancient world and your world today. They provide a way for God to speak to you from the specific passage or verse. Answer these questions under the “A”. Challenge yourself to write between two and five sentences about how the text applies to your life.

Finally, below the first three entries, write the letter “R” for Respond. Your response to the passage may take on many forms. You may write a call to action. You may describe how you will be different because of what God has said to you through His Word. You may indicate what you are going to do because of what you have learned. You may respond by writing out a prayer to God. For example, you may ask God to help you to be more loving, or to give you a desire to be more generous in your giving. Keep in mind that this is your response to what you have just read.

Notice that all of the words in the H.E.A.R. formula are action words: Highlight, Explain, Apply, and Respond. God does not want us to sit back and wait for Him to drop some truth into our laps. Instead of waiting passively, God desires that we actively pursue Him. Jesus said,

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). (Content originally posted 10-25-2016)

Question 1: How do I start?

The number one question we get about disciplemaking at Replicate is, “How do I start”? It can be difficult to know what your first step is to launch the process. This is especially true in churches with a long history of the traditional model of ministry. But even if you’re launching the process in a new church plant where you have a lot more freedom, knowing where to begin can be tough. The good news is, the answer is the same for every leader at every church and in every context. There are two key elements to launching a disciplemaking movement.

  1. Start by launching your own discipleship group. More than any other area of ministry, discipleship must be emulated before it will be replicated. You simply cannot effectively launch the process without doing it yourself. Another benefit of launching your group to begin is that you are actively creating the first group of disciplemakers. The people in your group will be the first to go and do likewise when you end and multiply.
    So, by starting your own group you accomplish a few key things: First, you model what is expected. Second, you begin training leaders to continue the process. Third, your experience allows you to speak from a vantage point of leadership as you have gone ahead of the people.
  2. Begin creating a discipleship culture. Read a book about disciplemaking with your key leaders. Preach sermons about making disciples. Introduce the basic concepts to your staff and key leadership. Examine your current process as a church, including all your programming and events. Think through the language you use and how that impacts the way people understand disciplemaking. There are many small tweaks you can make to implement a disciplemaking culture. The goal is to pick one and start the process.



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