NorthPark’s discipleship lifestyle makes, multiplies disciples like Jesus did

By Grace Thornton

The Alabama Baptist

Bill Wilks said there will never be a time in his life that he’s not meeting regularly with a group of men, sending them out and then starting over.

And he prays he can get pastors and lay people all over the state, nation and world to commit to the same thing.

“In most churches, the big dilemma is not being able to create an atmosphere of something that would really truly multiply,” said Wilks, pastor of NorthPark Baptist Church, Trussville.

That’s why he started D-Life a few years ago. It’s not a program or a method — it’s a lifestyle, he said. It’s simple. It’s profound. And it’s the way Jesus did it.

How does it work?

Small groups meet once a week somewhere out in the community. When they meet, one person facilitates. Another leads a prayer. A third retells the story that’s assigned for the week, a story they will have all read in their personal time in the Word. A fourth person will read it from the Bible to see if anything was left out.

And once they reach eight or so group members, it’s time to divide the group and multiply, Wilks said.

“A lot of small churches that have been doing business as usual for years and kind of get stuck — they don’t know what to do from there. D-Life is a very simple thing that they can do and have some really powerful fruit,” Wilks said. “It’s a very simple way to train your people how to make and multiply disciples as a way of life.”

It’s something he and his wife, Rondie, have been teaching to others, as fast as they can. They regularly lead D-Life Boot Camps to teach other churches how to implement the same strategy.

“We’ve got about 100 churches and ministries across the nation that are doing D-Life,” Wilks said. Nearly 40 of those are in Alabama, but groups are spread across a number of states, plus a few in Korea and Canada.

They’ve been able to get D-Life started at Jacksonville State University in the fall of 2016, and Gary Brittain, Baptist campus minister there, said it’s going great so far.

“We had started in small group discipleship in a very intentional way two years ago, but this semester we started doing D-Life, and the students really seem to be enjoying it,” he said. “It’s been a good method. We are seeing some real progress with this.”

Nearly 75 students signed up for groups, including sophomore Zach Youngstrom, who said his D-Life group is “my favorite thing about Jacksonville State.”

“My group has five people, and we’re going through Luke in the D-Life program right now. My guys are really growing,” he said. “Prayer requests have gone from superficial stuff at the beginning to really digging in. I’m loving it. It’s helping to make this a period of intense spiritual growth for me.”

‘Very exciting’

And when groups multiply next time, the number of students meeting in groups will be larger than the Baptist Campus Ministries’ weekly worship attendance, Brittain said.

“That’s a very exciting thing,” he said. “Because we’re not looking to build a large group — we’re looking to reach a large campus. And this is a good way to do it.”