Men of Joshua discipleship program stresses accountability
June 8th, 2017 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
ARLINGTON Though not yet 30 years old, Ronnie Goines was a successful development consultant for a Fortune 500 company when he led a fellow high achiever to Christ at a business conference—a life-changing encounter for both men.
“I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life as an agent to lead people to Jesus Christ,” Goines said.
Shortly thereafter, Goines was asked to teach a men’s Bible study class and eventually felt the Lord calling him to become a pastor, which meant further education for the Shreveport, La., native.
Goines had already earned a finance degree from Louisiana Tech, but he and his new bride, Nikki, enrolled in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and “went from making good money to going to food pantries to eat.”
Following graduation from Southwestern, Goines started a home church with five people, including his wife. Koinonia Christian Church grew to 5,000 in a dozen years. Today, the largely African-American congregation meets in a revamped former commercial property off Interstate 20 in Arlington.
In 2009, Goines noticed a need for discipleship among men.
“I saw a lot of Christians who weren’t disciples,” he said. “I met a lot of people on their way to heaven who were living in hell.”
One Sunday as he preached on Joshua 24:15, Goines felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to ask how many men had been discipled.
He explained discipleship to them with a coaching analogy: “The best athletes in the world have never played for us on television. They didn’t make it because they couldn’t be coached. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you won’t be coached, you are not going very far.”
Goines asked the men: “Who feels like they have a lot of talent but they are sitting on the bench? Who is ready to be coached and get in the game?”
Seventy-five men came forward. Seven eventually completed Koinonia’s first discipleship course.
“Our church did a radical shift with these seven men,” Goines said. Over the next 13 months, attendance increased about eightfold to 1,300. “The word got out that we were discipling men.”
The Men of Joshua curriculum is based on the premise that “every man should be the pastor of his own home.” Recently published in the book As for Me and My House, the plan features model lessons and offers a glimpse into Goines’ background as the son of a single mother whose teachers and coaches believed in him.
“Jesus, in the Great Commission, never said, ‘Go and make Christians. He said, ‘Go and make disciples.’ It is the job of the Holy Spirit to make Christians. It is the job of us to make disciples. God always chooses us to disciple us.”
Goines teaches the class two or three times a year. Men enrolled in the program commit to 14 weeks involving mandatory attendance at discipleship classes, Bible study, prayer meetings, evangelism outreaches and worship. They must have a job, actively serve, practice stewardship and pass content exams.
If a man falls short in an area, he must repeat the course. Goines said some pastors think this is too regimented, likely to result in men leaving the church, but that does not concern Goines.
“I would rather have four weeks to disciple you and then you leave,” he said, “than to have you here for four years and never hold you accountable.”
Single men take the course, too. “Even if you are not a husband, you should be husband material,” Goines explained.
Women pursue a discipleship course called Women of Esther, a “less rigid” form of the Joshua program with different material. “The stress of being a mom is different from that of being a dad,” Goines said. “The ethos is a little different. They need a sisterhood.”
“The biggest thing in both is accountability,” he affirmed, noting that disciples sign a contract or covenant.
The role of a teacher is vital in the process, just as “Jesus spent time living with and walking with the disciples,” Goines explained. One key is “the leader walking with those he has been called to disciple.” Koinonia recognizes graduates in a special ceremony, before which each disciple will have memorized 35 scriptures, learned apologetics and know how to disciple others.
Disciples then become disciplers, required to lead others each year through an abbreviated curriculum.
“Jesus, in the Great Commission, never said, ‘Go and make Christians,’” Goines noted. “He said, ‘Go and make disciples.’ It is the job of the Holy Spirit to make Christians. It is the job of us to make disciples. God always chooses us to disciple us.”
Koinonia’s Daylon Furlough affirmed the program’s success: “Men of Joshua gave me the tools, the know-how, to live a life modeled after Christ.” He said his 17 fellow students are “brothers for life.”
The Men of Joshua curriculum has been adopted by churches in Texas, California, South Carolina, Hawaii and Michigan. Ten churches have implemented the entire program, while more than 100 others have adopted parts. Koinonia holds an annual conference for men from across the nation who have gone through Men of Joshua. Goines plans to work with SBTC discipleship ministries this fall on a video training module.