A while back, I was on Facebook and saw a really well thought out post from John Kelsey on the struggles and challenges of developing multiple generations of intentional disciple makers. It was so good, I invited John on the podcast to flesh out his points a little more. You can see his entire post below.
I really thought that I had a robust understanding of intentional disciplemaking. You can’t spend 26 years around Max and Sandra Barnett as a student and staff member without growing exponentially! I could not be more thankful for being a part of their legacy!
At the same time, I am just beginning to realize the vast depth of developing generations of intentional disciplemakers. Two environments over the last few years are shaping my thinking:
1. Developing generations of disciplemakers in the local church, particularly one focused on serving the poor and disenfranchised.
2. Developing generations of disciplemakers in a diverse professional demographic that includes the technical trades, military, law, engineers, and graduate students.
These two environments have led me to several conclusions:
1. Developing generations of disciplemakers to be fruitful over the long haul is much more difficult, and takes longer, than I understood it to be. There are no shortcuts to developing lifetime laborers for the Kingdom. You need to know what you’re doing and not give up. You also need to rely a lot more on the Holy Spirit than you do right now.
2. Developing generations of disciplemakers to be fruitful over the long haul requires a greater degree of varied community input than I understood it to be. Tribalism and the inability to connect disciples to a larger movement are enemies to developing lifetime laborers for the Kingdom. You need to help people contextualize the Great Commission in a much broader community. You also need to rely a lot more on the Holy Spirit than you do right now.
There’s a lot more that I’m chewing on, but I don’t have enough coffee to keep writing.
Well, I’ve made another pot of Ethiopian Jimma. Time to keep going!
3. Developing generations of disciplemakers to be fruitful over the long haul requires a regular re-examination of ministry tools. We are in ministry information overload in this country right now. For those of us in full-time ministry, there is a combination of boredom with doing the same thing over and over and pressure to create something new to offer the Kingdom. The vast majority of lifetime laborers do not make their living from the Gospel. They need simple, consistent ministry tools that they have had time to master in multiple contexts. Those of us leading disciplemaking ministries must offer ongoing ‘technical support’ for these ministry tools instead of focusing on the latest book or illustration. You also need to rely a lot more on the Holy Spirit than your favorite ministry tools.
4. Developing generations of disciplemakers to be fruitful over the long haul requires a much greater commitment on my part than I understood it to be. The temptation is to focus on creating communities with powerful disciplemaking momentum. However, as much as we need these communities to reinforce biblical principles, we cannot effectively develop lifetime laborers for the Kingdom apart from one-on-one training. Those of us leading disciplemaking ministries must model the process and outcomes we want to see in the individual. You also need to rely a lot more on the Holy Spirit than your ability to do one-on-one.
No kidding, I drank all of my coffee. I’ll write more later.
My next shipment from MistoBox has arrived. Thanks Jen for the Christmas present! This El Salvador Talmanica is fantastic!
5. Developing generations of disciplemakers to be fruitful over the long haul requires a much stronger commitment to prayer than I ever imagined. I always believed in prayer, and have practiced prayer throughout my ministry. However, the older I get, the more convinced I am of verses I memorized while in college: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” Psalm 127:1; “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. The pitfall of younger disciplemakers is to think that they are more in control of the growth process than the Holy Spirit.
6. Developing generations of disciplemakers to be fruitful over the long haul requires more encouragement and support than I understood it to be. The vision of intentional disciplemaking gripped my heart in college. Since then, I have never doubted this biblical mandate, and am committed to develop lifetime laborers regardless of the opinions of those around me. However, I have come to realize that I am exponentially more effective when I receive encouragement, support, and ongoing training to fulfill my calling. I taught on the importance of teams, but personally thought I had enough horsepower to get the job done with or without any help. I fundamentally misunderstood the biblical power of visionary community, and what others could offer to help me be more effective in the Kingdom. You see this clearly in Acts 2:42-46. I need to rely upon the Holy Spirit and His plan for developing lifelong laborers more than just my passion for making disciples.
I’m noticing my points are getting longer and longer. The caffeine must really be kicking in!
Today, we will be focusing on the first 3 points.