I just finished my Personal Disciple-Making Plan for 2014, and I have really enjoyed the intentional and focused process of thinking through how I will be a disciple of Jesus, so that I can obey Jesus and make at least one more disciple for him this year. One of the questions in the plan - How Will I Make Disciples Among a Few People? - forces you to think through what you are prepared to do - what you are willing to spend in time and effort - to make disciples.
One way to go about that is to observe how others are able to grow a disciple-making culture, and then apply what you learn from them. From Tim Brister, as he reported on one organization:
Disciple-makers have decided to commit a minimum of 9-10 hours a week providing hands-on practical training. This commitment did not coming with compelling arguments. The disciple-makers love it. They want to invest their time in the work. There is a team of disciple-makers–seven in all–committed to making a total of 12 disciples together over the course of several months. The kind of teaching and training they provide is not a classroom lecture, though there certainly is an intellectual component to it. But it is more than that. It is hands-on with a high level of participation and practice where those being discipled have an immediate opportunity to work it out. Along with the practical instruction and increasing depth of knowledge, there is constant encouragement from the team of disciple-makers. Any opportunity to affirm change and progress is acknowledged, not only by the team of disciple-makers but also those being discipled. Corresponding to the high level of challenge is a high level of celebration as it becomes evident that there is a high level of change taking place in those being discipled. The heads (instruction), hearts (encouragement), and hands (practical application) of those being discipled are trained by those modeling the life and work before them in their own context.
Sounds like a pretty amazing disciple-making experience, right?
So, wondering what organization it was? Cru? Frontiers? Inter-varsity? Royal Servants?
What I just shared with you is my 6-year-old’s city league baseball team.
I love what he then points out about the commitment level required to make disciples of (not King Jesus) but baseball.
My son’s team practices three days a week, and each practice is approximately two hours long. Most of the seven coaches arrive 30 minutes early for kids who want to shag balls or get some extra one-on-one instruction. Each kid invests a minimum $200 for the season, which includes registration, batting helmet, glove, and bat. None of this is coerced or has to be explained. Both players and coaches just know these are the expectations, and the desire to play the game is greater than any of these expectations placed on them.
He then asks, "What if we did that for disciple-making?"
If we took baseball out of the equation and placed it with gospel-centered living, would we find 7 disciple-makers committed to 12 disciples for 10 hours together each week over the course of 4 months? Would each disciple be willing to not only invest the time but hundreds of dollars to get the necessary resources and tools to be well-trained as a follower of Jesus Christ? Such a commitment seems ridiculous for Christians these days, but it is normative and expected for little league baseball run by the public recreation department! What gives?! And we wonder why disciples are not being made and lives are not seriously being impacted with the transforming power of the gospel?
Note what he is not saying. He isn't saying you shouldn't play baseball. He isn't saying you shouldn't play football. Or whatever sport or hobby you want to use to fill in the blank. What he is pointing out is this - why can't we be just as committed to the most important thing in the world as we are to a secondary thing?
We can do this.
Brister helps us see: Let's learn from the Little League coach.
The fact is: my son’s coaches make disciples better than us. They are more committed than we are. They are more excited and desirous to make disciples than we are. They don’t complain about it. They celebrate it. It’s a privilege and joy. They are not going through some pre-packaged “discipleship curriculum” for one hour a week with a few questions. They are on the field, not the classroom, and they are asking dozens and dozens of questions and helping kids answer them with application, not just information. They are doing it one-on-one, and they are doing it as a team of 7 dads serving as coaches to get the most out of these boys. And the boys are loving every minute of it because they are being challenged and changed in the process.
Friends, our purpose to make disciples of Jesus is a privilege and a joy.
Let's do this.
Let's make disciples.