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THE FIRST DISCIPLESHIP ESSENTIAL: INTENTIONALITY

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4

Years ago my mentor Max Barnett was spending some extended time with God at a conference in the mountains praying and seeking direction for his life and ministry.  As Max was reading in his daily Bible reading calendar he came across Isaiah 43:4 and was impressed to ask God not for ministry “success” in the eyes of the world but to simply ask God for people – people who would be changed by the gospel, discipled in a deep and transforming way, and sent to multiply disciples to the ends of the earth. I am one of those people who is an answer to Max’s prayer that day. You may have never heard about Max Barnett and honestly he is fine with that. Right now there are thousands of people around the world who are making disciples because of Max’s ministry.Max has paid a tremendous price over the years to remain focused on making disciples. He would be first to admit that it has cost him much. Remember that in Isaiah 43:4 it says that nations and people will be impacted “in exchange for your life.”

Disciplemaking won’t cost you much. It will just cost your entire life.

I know that I don’t have to convince you that it’s worth it. But since we all only have one life to give for making disciples, we must narrowly focus on what is most essential in discipleship in order to leverage our entire lives for the one thing God has called us to do. In this post, I want to share the an essential that I learned from Max Barnett and that I am using in my ministry today.

Intentionality

What do you hope will be true of the person you are discipling a year from now? How about ten years from now? How about 40 years from now? Answering these questions should shape how you invest in students.

In our ministry we have a list of basic Biblical principles and training objectives that we want every disciple in our ministry to walk through. We want our students to understand and live out basics such as The Gospel, Lordship of Christ, daily time alone with God, scripture memory, prayer, evangelism, world vision, fellowship and more. Notice I said “training objectives” instead of lessons. Yes, lessons are an essential part of the process but the goal is that these concepts will be integrated into the disciple’s life. We don’t “move on” beyond the basics until we are convinced of true progress in the bottom line essentials of what it takes to have a vibrant walk with Jesus Christ.

LeRoy Eims, author of Lost Art of DiscipleMaking, said, “In helping a young Christian grow, you need a step-by-step building program in mind. You can develop certain objectives you want him to attain before he undertakes others. You want to see him go from taking in spiritual milk to partaking of spiritual meat.” We wrote free reproducible discipleship lessons and posted them on our website so that students can simply print them and use with minimal prep time. This has greatly helped the students who are starting to disciple others focus more on helping students live out the training objectives rather than spending lots of time preparing new Bible studies.

Having a set of our own free reproducible lessons has sped up the turnaround time from someone being discipled to discipling someone else.These “required” lessons are not exhaustive. They can easily be finished in a semester. We want to make our disciple-making process as simple and reproducible as possible.

We intentionally train our staff and students to be flexible in the order that they go through the lessons based on the needs each person has. For example, if a freshman just started a new dating relationship I may take a break from the lessons that I am going over with them and spend a couple weeks doing Bible studiesreading books, and listening to messages on dating. Then I help them craft a strategic plan for how they will glorify God through their relationship. How a student chooses to date in college can make or break their spiritual life and ability to have a personal ministry. It makes sense to focus on that for a few weeks until there is a good plan in place. This is just one example of a “tangent” I may take with a disciple. Other times, I will spend extra time helping a student with an addiction to pornography or who struggles with time management.  Also if a student I am discipling just led someone to Christ then I will focus the next few weeks on how to follow up with a new believer.

We always encourage our team to resume working through the rest of the training objectives after a strategic tangent. Once they are done with our basic list of training objectives its up to the discipler to learn how to follow the Holy Spirit in discerning what the person they are training needs in order to continue growing and multiplying. We do provide suggested resources and book suggestions for further study on relevant topics as well as coaching from the person that is discipling them. None of our student leaders is ever left out on a limb with no one helping them craft their strategic plan for their disciples. Having a set list of training objectives for our students to work through has united our leaders and helped us multiply! I would encourage you to consider a “basic training course” of some sort to incorporate into your ministry. Feel free to use or adapt ours.

Disciplemaking is not a linear process. Disciplemaking is dealing with real people in the context of complex issues of life. Our goal is not to create cookie cutter versions of what we picture as the “ideal disciple.” Our goal is to instill a passionate love for Jesus and equip them to do their part in fulfilling the great commission in this generation. Each person has unique gifts, abilities and callings from God. I believe if we are faithful to help people gain traction in the basics of following Jesus then Jesus will guide them to maximize their fruitfulness. We only have a limited time to invest in each student. It is essential that we are intentional about making the most of every opportunity to point them to Jesus and fulfilling His mission.

Here are a few more practical ways to be intentional about how you invest in students.

  • Keep a discipleship journal. Track the progress you are making with those you disciple. I keep a journal of everyone I am discipling including specific prayers for them, what lessons I have already gone over with them (it can be awkward to forget and try and do the same lesson twice), goals they have that I helped them come up with, custom accountability questions based on their goals, what training objectives and materials I will focus on with them next. Anything you want to remember!
  • Regularly ask them questions that will help you assess where they are at and how you can help them. Questions I regularly ask are “What is one aspect of your character that you need to grow in most right now?” “What is one skill you would like to develop in order to serve God more effectively?” “What is your next step if you are going to have a personal ministry that multiplies disciples?”
  • Use “Cross Training.” Get them around wise and godly men and woman who can influence them and give specific help in various areas of life. Don’t create a culture in your ministry where the only input people are getting is from their discipler. Your local church should be an essential component for discipling your students. Students love to learn from older men and women who have walked with God for years.
  • Be intentional with your time together even when you didn’t have much time to prepare for the meeting.
  • Pray for them everyday. This sounds obvious, but seriously you will be amazed at how God will give you ideas as you labor for them in prayer.

What next steps do you need to take in order to develop more intentionality in your disciplemaking?

What is one missing element in your current disciplemaking process?

What resources does your ministry use? Are they simple and reproducible?

Published on by Cassie Littel.

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Reach More People by Sowing Broadly

If you want to have a ministry that is consistently growing and reaching new people you will need to sow broadly with the good works and good news of Jesus.

The Example of Jesus

Jesus started his ministry by sowing broadly with loving service and preaching the gospel of the kingdom to thousands of people. In Mark 1 the whole city of Capernaum was gathered around Jesus as he healed people and ministered to their needs. He could have a launched the first mega-church that day but he knew there was still a lot of gospel seed to be sown in other places first.

“Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed:“Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied,“Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” Mark 1:36-39, NIV

Jesus saturated his target areas with good works and good news. This method of sowing broadly laid the foundation for the first Church. This was also how he trained his disciples as they sowed broadly “with him.” (Mark 3:14, NIV) In Luke 10 Jesus sent out 72 of his disciples two by two into “every town and place where he was about to go.” He instructed them to sow broadly by looking for “people of peace” who could open up doors to reach whole communities.

Jesus focused his leadership training on the 12 apostles but modeled to them a method of ministry that reached thousands of people with good works and good news. At times Jesus preached to crowds of 10,000-15,000! The fact that Jesus did ministry like this should have profound implications on our own outreach strategies. Mark 6 shows a powerful example of how Jesus modeled sowing broadly to his disciples.

“Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them,“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” Mark 6:30-34, NIV

Jesus trained his disciples in the context of abundant evangelism.The training Jesus gave his disciples looked a lot more like “let me train you how to reach all these people” rather than “lets meet once a week, read and memorize the Bible and pray.” As we can see this training included working so hard that they didn’t even have time to eat! (Mark 6:31, NIV) Even when Jesus was trying to get away from the crowds he taught them a valuable lesson to have compassion for the crowd even when they legitimately needed rest. One of the primary discipleship training tools Jesus used was showing them how to sow broadly to as many people as possible.

The Example of the Early Church

Towards the end of his time on earth Jesus commissioned his disciples to carry on the same ministry he was doing with them. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21, NIV) After being filled with the Holy Spirit these disciples broadly and boldly spread the gospel across the known world. The early disciples were not careful with who and how they shared the good news but shared with all who would listen. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 5:42, NIV) As a result the gospel went viral as the apostles modeled this radical urgency to get the word out. People couldn’t help share about the man who rose from the dead. “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20,NIV) This broad sowing of the gospel was the start of an unstoppable movement that “turned the world upside down” in one generation. (Acts 17:6, NIV)

 

The Example of Modern Movements

Every revival and movement in the history of Christianity has been marked by an abundant zeal to spread the good news to all who will listen. The potential of the Church is unleashed when every member has the opportunity to be equipped to share God’s love with every person they get an opportunity to share with. I have yet to see a growing Church or ministry that doesn’t broadly sow the gospel.

David Garrison in his excellent book on “Church Planting Movements” listed 10 things that were evident in every CPM. The second thing on his list was “Abundant Evangelism.” In his book Dave tells story after story of how God is using abundant sharing of the gospel to catalyze movements. Steve Smith shares similar findings in the book “T4T” on the fastest and largest church planting movement in the history of Christianity. The “T4T” movement recorded 1.7 million baptisms and 150,000 new churches since 2001. This movement started with just one missionary and his wife. Check out this selection from “T4T”:

We must use spiritual means to find spiritual people. One successful trainer says it this way. “We must sift for persons of peace using the gospel.” In a training session, it became apparent that a long-time colleague and his team were seeing dramatic results in a very “resistant” people group. For seven years, they had labored with no fruit – no new believers and no churches. How discouraging! At our meeting, he reported that in the eighth year they began to see radically different results. So I asked him “what changed?” In embarrassment he replied,“We started sharing the gospel.” I said, “Excuse me? What did you say?” Looking me in the eyes with sadness he said more loudly “We started sharing the gospel!” Another colleague who was seeing a lot of people come to Christ was asked “Whom do you find to be the most responsive?” He replied “Those that I share the gospel with. 100% of the those I do not share with do not respond.”

It Works on Campus!

Sowing broadly has helped us create a culture of evangelistic urgency that God is using. Just this school year over 100 students have indicated decisions to accept Jesus and follow him as Lord! Even our new believers don’t know any better than to share Jesus with their lost friends and family. We have seen several guys lead their girlfriends to Jesus. One guy led his girlfriend to Christ in the hot tub! They don’t train you to do that in the evangelism books! Another new believer invited her father to her baptism. Her Dad accepted Jesus before the baptism and got dunked along with her! One day on campus this fall we saw 6 students pray to receive Jesus at different gospel appointments.At times it really has feels like Acts 2:47 “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved,” (NIV). It is my prayer that our students won’t realize that this is not normal.

You Reap in Proportion to What You Sow

I have been a city boy all my life but I understand some basic principles of farming. One obvious truth is that you reap in proportion to the amount that you sow. Please read these familiar scriptures and be sensitive to what the Spirit is saying to you.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” 2 Corinthians 9:6, NIV

“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.“ Ecclesiastes 11:6, NIV

“Do you not say,‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!They are ripe for harvest.” John 4:35, NIV

 

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.Then he said to his disciples,“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35-37, NIV

Don’t worry if you don’t see overwhelming results right away. You never know what God wants to do through your obedience. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NIV)

How many people in your community will hear the gospel today?

 Questions for reflection

  • What would potentially hold you back from leading yourself and your ministry to sow broadly with the gospel?
  • What are some practical ways you could apply this principle to your ministry?
  • What are some effective tools that you could use to train people to share Christ?

 

Paul Worcester planted and leads a missional college ministry called Challenge at Chico State in California. Since planting in 2009 over 300 students have professed faith in Christ with many plugging into discipleship relationships. Paul is the author of the free ebook “Tips For Starting A College Ministry.”

 

Published on by Cassie Littel.

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10 SIMPLE WAYS FOR EVANGELISTS TO EQUIP EVERYDAY PEOPLE!

I am an evangelist. Nothing gets me more stoked than sharing the good news of Jesus with someone for the first time. However the role of an evangelist was given to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” (Ephesians 4:12) It is not enough for an evangelist to simply “do evangelism” he must equip others. This year our college ministry of 100 saw 130 students make decisions to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord! It has been thrilling to see several of those get plugged into our discipleship process. What gets me even more excited is that most of our 30 student leaders have personally led someone to pray to receive Christ! One new believer even led his girlfriend to pray to receive Christ in the hot tub. You don’t read about how to do that in the “how to” manuals! Here are 10 simple practices for unleashing everyday people to share Christ.

1.  Model the urgency.  This is the most important step. People usually will not do what you teach them to do but they will do what you do. The most effective type of training is what I call “monkey see monkey do” training. Take them with you, show them how and then debrief. You must be able to say “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 If you are not regularly sharing the gospel with non-believers then you will not be effective in equipping others.  Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Ask God to break your heart for those without Christ and make sure to get the best training available. Make it your top priority to start building relationships with lost people and sowing the gospel among them.

2.  Celebrate the stories. If anyone that you are training takes the smallest step towards sharing the gospel do back flips out the window! You will get what you celebrate. If you create a culture where people have an opportunity to humbly tell their evangelistic stories you will be surprised by how the stories will keep rolling in week after week.

3.  Give them simple tools.  Sometimes evangelistic tools such as booklets or simple illustrations get a bad rap as “canned.” This may be true if your training never progresses beyond using just one tool but we have found that giving people something to start with helps tremendously.  I agree with what Steve Sjogren who says “The best kind of evangelism is the kind that you do.”  Once people get started then they can develop their own evangelistic style and learn to adapt tools to fit different situations. Our ministry has several tools we use such as “Three Habits For Everyday Evangelism and “Gospel Appointments.” They may not be the greatest tools in the world but they work. If you keep your tools simple they will be more easily reproducible.

4.  Sow broadly with them. Every movement in the history of Christianity has been marked by broad sowing of the gospel. Jesus took 12 “with him” (Mark 3:14) and the training he gave them was sowing broadly with the gospel in “every town and village.” This fall our ministry had the goal of getting 1,000 interested contacts using several different outreach methods. We fell short and got about 850 interested contacts! This gave our student leaders a number of people to personally follow up with and if possible set up a “gospel appointment.”  Doing some planned outreaches generated “hot contacts” which helped us “put the cookies on the bottom shelf “ for our people.

5.  Train them with relational AND intentional methods! You don’t have to choose between training people in “relational evangelism” or “intentional evangelism.”  We use intentional methods such as surveys, information table and flyers to help students get over their fears and help “work out the bugs” in their sharing. The crazy part is that we have seen many people come to faith using the methods that “don’t work anymore.” Steve Shadrach in the excellent book “The Fuel and The Flame” says “I have never meet a student who was unwilling to share the gospel during the planned times and then took the initiative to share during the unplanned times.”

6.  Start training new believers as soon as possible. We provide the opportunity for training in evangelism and disciple-making as soon as possible for everyone who accepts Christ. Sharing Jesus is one of the best ways for a new believer to grow in Christ. Philemon 1:6 says “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you may have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  We have discovered that new believers are some of the best evangelists because they have the most non-Christian friends. Also new believers don’t know any better than to share about the one changing their life!  Lord willing some new believers will be “persons of peace” for you that will open up whole networks of new people!

7.  Move with the movers. Don’t bang your head against wall trying to motivate everyone in your ministry to be bold evangelists.  Focus your training on those who actually want to do it. Spend the most time helping equip the people who are the most motivated. We have a couple of students in our ministry who have led 3 or 4 people to Christ in one semester! We spend the most personal time with these students training, encouraging and helping them follow up on those they lead to Christ.

8.  Train people to train others. Start equipping your most motivated evangelists how to train others. Even if it would be easier or more effective for you to do all of the training yourself give people the opportunity to take over the training task. This will speed up the multiplication process. This training works best in one-on-one settings or small groups.

9.  Repeat steps 1-8 as often as possible.

10.  Make a plan for how to help all of the new believers! If you and your team are abiding in Christ and consistently doing the steps above you will likely see many people come to faith Christ. As my friend Brian Zunigha says “If you share the gospel you will lead people to Christ. If you don’t share the gospel you will not lead people to Christ.” Expect God to use you and make plans for following up with all the new believers!

 

Paul Worcester planted and leads a missional college ministry called Challenge at Chico State in California. Since planting in 2009 over 300 students have professed faith in Christ with many plugging into discipleship. Paul is the author of the free ebook “Tips For Starting A College Ministry.”

Published on by Cassie Littel.

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