Virtual Learning for Discipling Staff and Pastors

“My personal goal right now is to be all in with going through the materials that are sent. Because it keeps it in front of me, because this is what I do for a living. Also, it’s valuable being able to hear everyone else’s comments. I write phrases and notes and go back and look at them. It helps me in ongoing conversations as I go about the week, using more of the language and more of the concepts, while talking to other leaders; and reading other books, it connects to what I’ve been learning in DiscipleOn.”

Are you all in for discipleship? Season 4 is Feb.-June, 2018

Register for the next Informational Webinar and discover if you’re ready for DiscipleOn!

December 06 at 2:00-2:45 p.m. CST

MORE with Greg Hawkins

Why is this brown cardboard box that has “Kingdom of Me” and “My Little Cardboard Castle” written on the sides in Mike Johnson’s office? Join the expert webinar with Greg Hawkins and find out. Find out what it means and how it helps Mike flourish as a sacrificing disciple deeply united to Christ.

Learn more

Congregational Impact from DiscipleOn Season 2

In a continuing effort to improve our support of discipleship in churches, we recently asked the members of DiscipleOn! to complete an end-of-season survey. Here’s just a sample of the congregational impact stories shared in the survey:

”Our staff and the discipleship team have a much greater understanding of how to review our programs and we seek to make our classes and programs cover all of the stages as a core planning tool.”

”It kept me focused on developing the spiritual pathway.”

”We were able to learn from the community and the vault about a team charter for our discipleship team – which was timely and wonderful for renewing the team’s commitment.”

We are also taking some of the feedback on where we can improve and making some important changes for next season. The biggest change is that we’re offering a “BASICS” community for people who are newer to the concepts of the stages of faith and a discipleship continuum approach. This group will have access to everything the other groups have, but will have a set series of topics for their monthly catalytic gatherings. Our desire is for this to address the needs of those who felt overwhelmed and unsure about where to start.

Our favorite takeaway from the survey?

100% of respondents agreed (or strongly agreed) that “I am likely to recommend DiscipleOn to others!”


A challenge to YOU, discipleship leaders…

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the live IF:Gathering in Austin, TX. If you’re unfamiliar with “IF:Gathering”, the short of it is that it’s a movement of women in the church, across the globe, to help each other live out God’s calling. This year’s conference focused on discipleship in the early church. I left with one clear message: the world isn’t going to be changed by books, events, or platforms. Transformation of the next generation happens on the living room floor, Bibles open. It happens when someone opens the door of their home over and over, with offers of coffee and maybe some chocolate chip cookies, and then God shows up at the doorway of their guests’ hearts. Jennie Allen (founder of IF) credits her mentor from her college years, who did just that, with the existence of IF:Gathering — which this year alone reached 2,200 live-stream locations around the world in over 120 countries. Jennie’s fear is that the relationships that fostered our generation’s spiritual growth and deeper love of Jesus will be missing for the next generation.

I couldn’t agree more that discipleship happens best in authentic communities of believers “doing life together”. I was challenged to look for more opportunities to “give what I’ve got, where I’m at.” What I want to add to that conversation is that the church, in all the various forms it can take, has a crucial role in nurturing those discipleship relationships. At every Ascending Leaders event, workshop, or webinar I’ve been a part of, I’ve been heartened by seeing church leaders who are earnest in doing that, and doing that better. These leaders…they CARE. They are all-in with this discipleship thing! And I know that after the workshop, after the event, they are in the trenches, tools in hand, covered in sweat and grime, building paths for disciples to move forward on. Rejoice in this! God is at work.

Now I have a challenge for you, leaders. If you’re feeling alone in this work, pause right now and find a community of fellow path-builders. Registration for DiscipleOn, our very own online learning community for discipleship leaders, is open through Monday (02/13/2017). It might not be the community for you. It may not be for you for right now. If that’s the case, keep looking and keep praying for God to bring you your tribe. If you think it might be your community for the next six months, you can:

  1. Join us for a live Q&A session this Thursday (register here).
  2. Watch the super-condensed recording of our “Inside Look at DiscipleOn”.
  3.  Register for DiscipleOn today.
  4. Do nothing and keep pressing forward alone.


I hope you’ll join us. DiscipleOn communities are full of those amazing church leaders I get to meet at our workshops, and I just know that you’d like them too!


Top 3 take-aways from our December webinar (and what happens next)

If you missed our free live-streamed event with Mindy Caliguire last week, we won’t hold it against you. We had a great time discussing the vital need as leaders to lean into God every day, and lean off of yourself. Are you taking care of your own heart? Are you a disciple as well as a discipleship leader?

Here are three of the top take-aways reported by the attendees:

1. Only out of the overflow can we care for a congregation.

“This is a constant thing so I need to daily give myself this reminder — maybe even at multiple times of the day. I lean into God already but it’s easy to neglect it and sort of float on my own.”

The cost of following Jesus in ministry ISN’T to be the diminishing of our own soul.” 

2. Expectations need to be negotiated and renegotiated when changing paradigms, not from an adversarial, but a teaching/shepherding/guiding point of view!

I will need to come back to this when necessary conversations come up relating to this.”

Our adversary is not the board, the senior pastor, etc… God has made a way for transformation to happen through intercessory prayer.”

Which brings us to…

3. Find intercessors immediately.

“We need to wisely tap into intercessors.”

“I will need to pray about who and how to get better at this.”

And what was the #1 next action planned by DiscipleOn! members and guests?

Lead a rebellion!  With the mindset of a rebel – lead for transformation yet with the determination to not allow our own souls to be neglected.

A new session of DiscipleOn! starts in February!

Learn More


Join us for a conversation with Mindy Caliguire this Thursday!

This Thursday at 1:30 PM (CST), our board member and guest Mindy Caliguire is joining the fall session of the DiscipleOn! community learning group for a special webinar.

Mindy’s passion for church leadership and disciple-growing cultures is clear from her body of work. She’s the founder of Soul Care, a spiritual formation ministry that exists to increase “soul health” in the body of Christ. She previously served as the Director of Transformation Ministry for the Willow Creek Association (WCA) and currently serves on the senior alignment team at Gloo as the Compassion International & Church Initiative Lead ( Mindy is also a speaker and leadership consultant, working with local churches and national organizations such as Renovare, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Salvation Army, and her home church, Ascent (

Our conversation with Mindy on Thursday will be around her book Become Like Jesus: Regaining Clarity on Transformation in the Local Church.


This is going to be a unique, amazing experience with participants who care deeply about discipleship and work daily in the trenches. 


Would you consider sharing this invitation with a friend or colleague who might enjoy spending an hour with just such a group? 


And of course, you are welcome to join in! Please register so we can send you a chapter excerpt to read beforehand:


Register for the webinar (FREE!) 

Mike’s Note – 2016 Winter Highpoint

Dear friend,

Life for me, and for Ascending Leaders, has been full this fall. It is very good to not only see the need for discipleship in churches and the growing recognition of churches to address that need, but also the focus and resolve of the churches we work with to intentionally build paths for that. God continues to faithfully and wonderfully equip us to respond to that desire.

The executive director of another nonprofit recently told me she was frustrated that some of her board would not financially support the ministry. I am grateful that is not the situation with us—once again 100% of our board, many of our board emeritus and also some friends of Ascending Leaders whom together we call our Matching 2 Multiply 2016 Crew have pooled together this year to double all your year-end donations (a $200 donation becomes $400) and quadruple all National Giving Day donations (a $200 donation becomes $800). The opportunity to join in God’s purpose for us to help churches better make disciples is abundant.

In early October, I was presenting at a pastors’ conference in Tucson. One discipleship pastor there shared, “Lately people have been approaching me saying we need to do something to improve discipleship. I wasn’t sure where to turn. The last thing we need is another hyped program that provides limited results. Now this is something that makes sense and that we can apply in a way that fits our setting.” Thirty hours after the first words of teaching came out of my mouth, he registered for the last open slot of the DiscipleOn! community and thirty hours after registering was in his first Catalytic Gathering of DiscipleOn!

You can join in making moments like this possible as we head into a new year:

  • Ask God to bless our coaching, teaching and resourcing with a large harvest of disciples, leaders and churches flourishing.


  • Support us with a National Giving Day or year-end donation which our Matching 2 Multiply Crew will quadruple or double (up to a total of $40,000 in matching funds).


  • Invite us in 2017 to present to your church leaders or whole church on stages of discipleship.


Read the Winter Highpoint and be inspired by the DiscipleshipDifference God is allowing the Ascending Leaders team to make.

In His service,






Dr. Mike Johnson, Founder and Executive Director



“You’re Not Alone, Rachel”

An Interview with Rachel Young, Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation6 mission icons
Clear Lake Presbyterian Church, Houston, TX

Rachel Young profile

Seven years ago, Rachel and Josh Young received a phone call during their honeymoon that would lead them from Hollywood to Houston. As newlyweds and recent graduates of Fuller Seminary, they had been praying for an opportunity to minister in the same church. So when the call turned out to be a job offer for Josh from Clear Lake Presbyterian in Houston, and there was a position open for Rachel as well, it felt like a blessing from God. They both still serve at Clear Lake, though their roles have changed over the years and Rachel has shifted to a part-time position with a focus on adult discipleship in order to spend time with their just-turned-one son, Ezekiel.

Rachel first crossed paths with Ascending Leaders three years ago, during a time of significant burn-out. At work, she was lost in the middle of a visioning process at church that was getting bigger and bigger, to the point where the process became entirely overwhelming. It seemed like they were maintaining a lot of “stuff”, without knowing way. In short, she felt stuck—personally and in leadership. Read More ““You’re Not Alone, Rachel””

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