What Is Discipling? – Part 2

What Discipling Is Not?

In my last post, I posed a couple of questions to you; ‘What is discipling?’ and ‘What is not discipling?’  In this post, we are going to discuss what discipling is not or as I like to call it these days, disciple making.

2013-09-07 08.28.45Basically, disciple making is not participating in large study groups where one person speaks and others listen.  It is not attending various men’s conferences or even attending an activity designed for men to gather and fellowship.  Disciple making is not necessarily exhibited with a group of men gathering to read a book and then talk about it; this is a book reading club.  All of these are good and can be beneficial; but, they are not necessarily disciple making and rarely fosters a discipling relationship.

Those Sunday School classes we attend each week is not a sufficient metric to gage discipling either.  Jeff Christopherson, North American Mission Board’s Vice-President of the Send Network, in his article What Discipleship is Not states;

Small group involvement as a single discipleship metric is a mistake.  You are making a lot of assumptions when you say that someone is growing because she (he) is going to a small group.  This can be a faulty accusation because of three pivotal reasons.  The first is that the small group may not be good at making disciples.  The second is that you are assuming that the person connects with the small group.  And third, you have to take into the account the people who will not attend a small group for various reasons.

Another defective metric of disciple making is measuring one’s ability to be fluent in Bible-speak or has a good grasp or understanding of theology.  Christopherson, in the same article mentioned above states;

Jesus agreed about the importance of accurate beliefs and truth.  “…For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”  But how is the truth setting the disciples you are making free?” (John 8:32).  Truth was never meant to be an end in itself, but truth applied to the life of a disciple has an amazing transformational affect.

A healthy diet of biblical preaching and Bible study is important to build healthy believers.  But strong interpersonal coaching and accountability are also critical to help disciples hear God and live out what they are learning.  After all, discipleship is living daily with Jesus.

Discipleship GroupI hear individuals talk about being in a discipling group and they are studying theology, I would caution one on doing this unless the individuals involved decides as a group to delve deeper into theology.  Oswald Chambers in his book, My Utmost for His Highest, states that;

It is possible to know all about doctrine and yet not know Jesus.  The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus.

A mentor of mine once told me, “Don’t let your theology get in the way of your disciple making.”

Mary Magdalene of whom Jesus exorcised seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2) in all likelihood would not have been able to debate even the least of the Pharisees on doctrine; however, she knew Jesus’ voice.  When Jesus rose from the grave Mary was distraught as she thought someone had stolen His body and didn’t know where they may have laid Him.  But Jesus called her name, “Mary,” and immediately she knew it was Jesus because she ‘knew’ Him.  It wasn’t a result of theological studies, book reads, attending conferences; but, it was because she had an intentional relationship with Jesus.  She knew His voice.

In these groups, many will come away with a better understanding of the Word of God, full of head knowledge but will not understand how to apply God’s Word into their lives.  Very few of these groups I have found do not allow one to pour their lives into another.  We must understand that disciple making is not a program, it is a ministry.  Every person will respond differently and you must be willing to allow your disciple making ministry to be flexible to meet the needs of the individual you are discipling.  Here’s a better way to think of it-in a more organic way, similar to the process Jesus used.  When God puts someone in your path who is stuck, discipleship means finding out why and then helping them solve that problem.

Recently I heard a well noted speaker state that Jesus did not say study theology (though there is nothing wrong with that) or the tenets of Calvinism; Jesus said, “Follow Me” (Mark 1:17).  A review of the scriptures will show that Jesus spent a large majority of His time pouring his life into those men he chose to be in his inner circle teaching them and being an example to them.

Now I encourage individuals to be in a small group such as a Sunday School or Home Group Study.  I feel it is essential to gather with others to study God’s Word and to perform acts of service together.  I encourage men to attend Men Conferences.  I would even encourage you to study theology as you grow in Christ to help understand the God you serve.  But don’t confuse these as disciple-making.

Disciple MakingTo put it simply, disciple making means intentionally partnering with another Christian in order to help that person obey Jesus and grow in relationship with Him—so that he or she can then help others do the same.  And this is what we will look at in the next post,

Next Post:  What is Discipling Making?

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

What Is Discipling? – Part 1

Introduction

Today the buzzword in many churches is ‘discipleship.’  Churches are beginning to see the need and understand the importance of being in the process of discipling the people they connect with through their churches.  Though churches are generally looking at discipling young and old; men and women; youth, married, divorced, single professionals, and the list could go on; here, we will be talking about men, regardless of their age or marital status.

Financial BurdenNow, let’s be honest, with men, this is hard.  A man is a hard thing to reach.  Ministering to men is one of the hardest jobs in the church.  In the book No Man Left Behind, the authors states that ministering to men is like rocket science.  Getting men into discipling relationships is one of the hardest tasks you will undertake.  Some will jump at the chance.  Some will hear about it so much they will attend but will not truly commit to the time or group.  Some will just blow it off.  Some will say I am in a discipling relationship because I attend a Sunday School class or whatever you call your Sunday morning or home study groups.  Many will not understand what a discipling relationship looks like and much less, why they need to be involved in such a group.

Discipleship GroupSo often those who begin a ‘Discipling Group’ don’t fully understand where to start or what to do.  They hear the concept and get caught in the excitement and they decide to start a group.  There are groups where men come together to read spiritually related books and talk about them.  I hear of men meeting to study deeper into theology.  There are groups of men that gather together for breakfast or some other meal time for a time of fellowship.  My question though, ‘Are these really discipling groups?’  Though there is nothing wrong with any of these and I support each of them, I still must ask myself, ‘Is this really discipling?’

What do you think?  I would like to hear from you, ‘What is discipling? What is not discipling?’  In my next two posts, I will try and answer those questions.  This will of course be from my own study and personal experience; but, I would like to hear from you.  Either though the blog, my Facebook post or LinkedIn post.

There have been many books written and lessons taught on the subject.  But I would like to know what do you think?  Let me know.  Maybe I will include some of your thoughts – anonymously I might add – in my future posts

Next post:  What Discipling is Not.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

The Farm Road

The farm road I was walking this morning as the sun was rising over the property was quiet.  Nothing wa20170814_080542[1]s stirring on it as I dodge puddles left by the recent rain.  No vehicles moving, no animals that live in the woods of the property.  Just me as I talked with God.  Every five minutes the app running on my phone would chime in and would let me know how far I had walked and how long I have been walking.

This morning I spent time praising God for who he is.  My rock, my fortress, my strong tower.  Praying about the events of the weekend how it saddens me as I read of how people behave claiming to be Christians; yet their character and attitude did not display the image of God as we saw through Jesus as he walked on the earth.  Praying that these people would see the real Jesus, have the heart of Christ, compassion of Christ, and love each other like He did, even those who hated him, to the point of dying for them, not because of them.

As I walked down the road I looked to my right and spotted a deer looking at me through the thick bushes and trees that hug the road so closely; reminding me how people are watching us through their struggles and misunderstanding of the gospel, watching to see how we will react to them and what our response will be.   This morning I let the deer go on it’s way but if it had been hunting season and I was a hunter I could have easily dropped the deer right where he stood.  Much like many who are filled with hate and don’t know the love of Christ will do to people who do not look like them, talk like them, or hold to the same ideals.  They are like hunters looking for their next target.   I pray these individuals will come to know Christ in an intimate and intentional way; for when they do, they will be repulsed by the actions we saw this weekend.

As I continued to walk I was reminded of the path we are on.  At least those who are truly followers of Christ.  When I looked down the road I saw the bushes and trees close to the road and knew that I could not veer off the road without getting scratch from the limbs and having to fight the limbs to find a path that was not there.  But so many people are.  They struggle every day because they are trying to live life on their own, doing things that looks right in their own eyes, yet falling into a quagmire where they do not understand how they got there or how to get out.  When all they had to do was stay on the path.  A path that Christ Himself created for us to follow.  The teachings of the Bible, the Word of God.  Yes, we will step into puddles for time to time or get struck in the ditch but God’s Word can and will help us to know how He wants us to live.  I imagine the majority of those this weekend that participated in this weekend events have probably spent little time in reading, much less allowing the Word to find a place in their heart.

I pray that God will intervene and cause those who do not know Him to be pierced with the Word and the Holy Spirit will begin a work in their life that will result in a life with Christ; truly imitating his character and attitude of our Lord and Savior.

As men who are in Christ we must be the example to our families and communities of who Christ is.  “As men we must be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.  Do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

By the way – I walked 1.33 miles in 29 minutes.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Are Your Eyes Dry?

This week I am studying Psalm 51 in preparation for the class I teach on SundayPsalm 51 mornings.  If you read your Bible you will recognize this is a prayer for restoration.  A prayer that King David uttered to God after the prophet Nathan confronted him with his adulterous sin with Bathsheba and his murderous plot regarding her husband Uriah.

Though we may not have committed adultery or murdered someone, we all can say at some point in our lives we have had lustful thoughts and thoughts of anger.  Jesus told us that if we have lust in our hearts then it was as good as adultery (Matt. 5:27-28) and if we spoke and acted in anger toward someone, we have as good as murdered them (Matt. 5: 21-22).

This psalm should be a reminder to all of us that we need to  pray the prayer of Psalm 51 from time to time.  Asking God to have abundant compassion on us.  To blot out our rebellion and completely wash our guilt away and cleanse us from our sin.  Though those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ who gave himself to die on the cross for our sins; who rose on the third day and has now ascended into the heavens and is sitting on the right hand of God; have been washed in the blood of the lamb and He, God the Father, will remember our sins not more; we still need to remind ourselves of our wickedness and that we need God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

For as the scripture teach us, none of us is good nor are we righteous (Rom. 3:10).  We need God to wash us clean, whiter than snow, to create in us a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit.  For no matter who we are we will from time to time lose our way and need to be drawn back into the presence of our God.  We need to have the joy of our salvation restored.

This week I did something I have not done in many years.

Keith Green
Click on the picture to listen to My Eyes Are Dry

I pulled out my guitar to fiddle with a little and I came across a song I use to sing when I was younger.  It was written by Keith Green, considered one of the early founders of the contemporary Christian music movement.  The song’s title is My Eyes Are Dry.  The lyrics to the song is written below and you can click on his picture to listen to the song on YouTube.

It is a song of restoration and a song that has ministered to me many times when I was younger and did today has I remembered the song and sung it.

Sometimes my eyes become dry as I lose my compassion for people who are hurting.  My heart becomes hard and I need it to be softened.  Sometimes my prayers become cold as we go though the motions and repeat the same old prayer day in and day out and we do not allow God to speak directly into our lives.  We need the Word of God and the Holy Spirit as God speaks to us through His Word.  Our eyes need to be wet from the tears as we feel compassion to those who are suffering.  We need our hearts to be soften.  We need are prayers to become alive in conversation to the Father.  We need to be washed anew in the wine of the blood of Christ.  We need God to create in us a clean heart, a steadfast spirit, restoring the joy of our salvation.  We need God to open our mouths so we can declare his praise, to sacrifice to Him a broken spirit for He will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

I ask you to examine yourself.  This is biblical as Lamentations 3:40 tell us;

Examine and probe our ways, and turn back to the Lord.

You may find yourself in a place that you need to say this prayer of Psalm 51, sing this song My Eyes Are Dry as you worship and praise God.  I pray that God will capture your heart once again if you have allowed your eyes to become dry, your faith to become old, your heart to become hard, or if your prayers have become cold.  Let yourself be washed anew in the wine of His blood.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Lyrics to My Eyes Are Dry.

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to you and dead to me
But what can be done for an old heart like mine
Soften it up with oil and wine
The oil is You
Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew in the wine of your blood.