Monthly Archives: June 2017

50 posts

Problem with the Human Paradigm

This is part of The False Promise of Discipleship blog series from The Bonhoeffer Project. Read the blog that came right before this one by clicking here.

When I (Bill) was nine years old, I went to the altar at my grandmother’s church. A gaggle of praying folks surrounded me and informed me that I had “prayed through,” which meant that I had been saved from my sins and was heaven bound. Later that week, my grandmother informed me that I would need to be faithful and sometime in the next year or so I would need to be sanctified. She said that was the next step. It was my X.

A week later, I was laughing at my friends’ off-color stories and thinking way too much about girls. I was moving in reverse. I never made it to X. Actually, X didn’t look that good to me, but I knew I should try to get there, like it or not.

The big question, of course, is how do we get to X?

Most church teaching offers up the answers in the form of a list of do’s and don’ts, all designed to get us “close to Jesus.” You just climb the rungs. If you do these things, you’ll get to X. Most church activity is based on that assumption. Do the things your church or denomination or tradition says you should do—go to church enough, read your Bible enough, get enough information in your head, pray enough, have enough faith, have enough quiet times, tithe enough, don’t use those words, don’t watch those movies—and you’ll get to X.

Bill Hull and Brandon Cook, authors of this blog and eBook, will be teaching at this year’s Forum. Meet them and get more content like this in person at the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum.

This is one of the largest gatherings of disciple makers in North America with 65+ workshops, 15+ speakers, and 10+ tracks. Join us to learn practical ways to make disciples of Jesus this November 9-10 (Thursday-Friday). Register for the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum here.

The promise that’s so often taught even if it’s never explicitly stated is that “if you engage in certain religious practices in the right context—like through church membership or participation—you will become a mature Christian.” Obviously, the rungs vary according to context. In some legalistic contexts, a rung might be, “Don’t cut your hair or wear shorts.” In some holiness contexts, a rung might be, “Don’t drink any alcohol.” In a hipster context, it’s all about the black frame glasses (we should know since we both wear them). Whatever the case, we generally have a clear list of “shoulds” presented to us—things that we’re supposed to do that will get us to X.


I (Brandon) have a very clear memory from high school of lying on my bedroom floor with a yellow legal pad, onto which I frantically scribbled all the things I could identify about myself that needed to be fixed. A spiritual inventory of sorts. And there were a lot of things to write down. I was hyper aware of all that I judged as unacceptable—to myself and, no doubt, to God. Stop wanting so many material things. Stop being jealous. Make more time for prayer and Bible study. Do this, don’t do that. The list went on and on, and after I’d gotten a page full of items, I sat in frustration, literally rapping my fists on the floor at just how overwhelming it all was. But I couldn’t see any other way. I felt incapable of transforming myself, and yet the only possibility I saw was trying harder. The only economy I knew was one based on me doing well enough to earn rewards, in this case, from God Himself.

That’s a stark example, and almost cartoonish, but I would assert that most of us, deep inside, have some sort of remnant belief that this is exactly how the universe works, and that God’s favor must be earned, not for entry into heaven, but for life. And the reason we practice spiritual disciplines is to climb the rungs of the ladder and get to X. That is what The Human Paradigm is all about.

The Human Paradigm

You can probably tell we’re about to tear apart The Human Paradigm, but first it bears repeating that a lot of this paradigm is true and helpful. This is the way the world functions, and when Jesus said, “be wise as serpents,” there’s something to be said about understanding how the world works. Moreover, most of the “must do’s” listed above—reading the Bible, praying and living generously and so forth—are great things! And we do pursue them and seek out some sort of spiritual growth and transformation. All of that is true.

That being said, The Human Paradigm has some real problems. And many of us are stuck in life because we buy into this paradigm, which results in a lot of confusion, frustration and, ultimately, anger toward God. We get stuck there because while we understand how things work in the world, we don’t understand how they work within God’s Kingdom, in which a totally different paradigm—an economy that is not based on earning—is the only economy that matters. So we need to understand the problems with The Human Paradigm because without that understanding it will be difficult for us to fully enter the Kingdom of God or to thrive as disciples of Jesus.


*Stay tuned by coming back to our blog for the next blog in this series, which will be coming soon!


This is an excerpt from the free eBook written Bill Hull and Brandon Cook of The Bonhoeffer Project. You can download the full eBook on their homepage here.

Bill Hull is a Co-Founder of The Bonhoeffer Project. Bill’s passion is to help the church return to its disciple making roots and he considers himself a discipleship evangelist. This God-given desire has manifested itself in 20 of pastoring and the authorship of many books. Two of his more important books, Jesus Christ Disciple Maker, and The Disciple Making Pastor, have both celebrated 20 years in print. Add his third in the popular trilogy, The Disciple Making Church, and you have a new paradigm for disciple making.

Brandon Cook is the lead pastor at Long Beach Christian Fellowship and a co-founder of The Bonhoeffer Project. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he studied at Wheaton College (IL), Jerusalem University College, Brandeis University, and The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He worked as a professional storyteller before joining a transformational training organization and moving to SoCal in 2006, becoming a pastor three years later. Over the course of five years of pastoring, he became convinced that his work—and the work of the church—is to become fully committed to discipleship and making disciple-makers. The Bonhoeffer Project is for him a quest to live into the question “How are people transformed to live and love like Jesus?”

Reach the Lost


This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Stay the Course: Seven Essential Practices for Disciple Making Churches.

Download this eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.

My greatest fear growing up was getting lost. It terrified me so much at times that while hunting as a young boy I considered never going in the woods again. My fear of being lost would sometimes even cause panic attacks. One particular time, when I was about 10 years old, my dad and I were deer hunting and an awful snowstorm blew in. The day was nearly over and we had only an hour or two left of daylight. I was walking alone back to our pickup truck, far enough from my dad that I could get lost. Then, the snow became blinding. I struggled to see even a few feet in front of me. The next five minutes felt like five hours as I struggled to get my bearings. I remember feeling short of breath, fighting the panic, and trying to keep my mind focused. I was terrified of being lost in the woods during a horrible storm. By God’s grace, I stepped out onto a main road and within 10 minutes after that, I made it to the truck where my dad was waiting. It took years of battling that fear to conquer it, and today I love the outdoors and the adventure of traversing God’s creation.

I think back to that day and draw parallels to the world around us now. When I see so many people lost and separated from God, my heart aches for them because I know the feeling. My stomach sinks as I consider that those who are spiritually lost have no idea of the perilous state they are in. It ignites a fire in my soul that I believe motivates me in my calling in Christian ministry.

Brandon Guindon, author of this article, will be teaching at the National Disciple Making Forum this year. Meet him and get more discipleship content like this in person at the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum.

This is one of the largest gatherings of disciple makers in North America with 65+ workshops, 15+ speakers, and 10+ tracks. Join us to learn practical ways to make disciples of Jesus this November 9-10 (Thursday-Friday). Register for the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum here.

A significant part of the discipleship process is reaching the lost. Unfortunately, what I have seen in the church today is that we alternate between two extremes. Either we establish our church structures to support a fortress mindset that appeals only to those who have made it inside the fort, or we focus solely on “getting people saved.” In either case the rest of the discipleship process is ignored or forgotten.

While I commend the courage of those who preach the gospel on a street corner or hand out literature with the path to salvation, I want to suggest a bigger and more holistic approach to our second guardrail principle, which is reaching the lost.

When Jesus walked the earth with his disciples, his method of ministry embodied the message he preached. Did you catch that? His methods embodied the message. His very life reflected the truth of the gospel. The message of the gospel is woven like fabric with the threads of grace, love, truth, forgiveness, and mercy. Jesus demonstrated in tangible ways each of those concepts so that the gospel became alive. The message of Jesus Christ was lived out in the method of Jesus Christ.

Jesus lived the message of the gospel by modeling it through action. We see this in the way he diffused the situation with the woman caught in adultery, how he gently but firmly revealed the sinful lifestyle of the woman at the well, and how he marveled at the faith of the Roman Centurion and healed his servant. He was the embodiment of the message. When he told his disciples to go and preach the Kingdom of God, he meant for them to not only teach the gospel with their words, but also to model the gospel in the way they lived their lives.

We as Christ followers are called to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus makes this clear in the Great Commission of Matthew 28: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). This passage means that our churches must reach the lost—it’s part of our calling. We must individually reach out to those who are lost and help them find their way home. Also, our church and organization structure must work in such a way that we not only reach them, but also help them connect in the church. So, go out into the world and share your life with those around you. Even more, be the message of Christ as you walk out the methods of Christ.

The idea of sharing your life in a way that can reach lost people may seem ambiguous. That’s why many church leaders and pastors have asked me, “How do we do that?” I tell them, “You have to choose to go after them.” That’s where it starts. The church has at times adopted a “build it and they will come” mentality. Some may join a group or attend your church on their own initiative, but most will not. You have to open up your life and get in the trenches with people. Amber and I do everything we can to connect with lost people. We invite them into our home, we have neighborhood barbeques, and we invite families from our kids’ sports teams to just hang out with us. We choose to go after people by opening up and sharing our lives with them. It’s why I titled this principle, “reach the lost” and not “catch the lost.” We have to reach out, go after, and pursue the lost by sharing our lives.

Implementing this principle starts with you as a leader. Sharing our lives with the lost must define who we are. Some argue, “Well, I do not have the gift of evangelism.” It is true that we all have different gifts, but every one of us can share our lives with the world around us. That clearly communicates that we are Christ followers. I believe we have damaged the church by so strongly segregating spiritual gifts. Reaching the lost is everyone’s job, not just one pastor that has a specific gift.

Staff and leaders in the church should model for ministry volunteers a lifestyle of sharing their faith and making disciples. This practice will then become part of the culture of a church. When we resist segregating evangelism to a department, our church body begins to live out the principle. It becomes a protective guardrail against thinking that only certain people are qualified to share their faith. Our staff, leaders, and volunteers can then work together to develop strategies and seek organic ways to reach anyone and everyone that is outside our walls.

*Stay tuned by coming back to our blog for more in this blog series about staying the course from Brandon Guindon.

by Brandon Guindon

This blog is part of the free eBook, Stay the Course: Seven Essential Practices for Disciple Making Churches.

You can down it by clicking here.

Brandon Guindon has over 15 years experience leading churches to become disciple-making bodies of Christ. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Linfield College and a Master of Arts Church Leadership and New Testament Theology from Hope International University. He was ordained at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, ID. He is a published author and a member of the Board of Directors for the Relational Discipleship Network. The Guindons (Brandon and Amber, Emma, Olivia, Grady, and Garrett) moved to Houston in 2013 from their home state of Idaho.

Disciple Makers Intentionally Pursue Intentionality


Most Christians are intimidated at the thought of personally making disciples. “I do not know enough,” they say. Or “I do not know how to do it” or “what if I am too controlling or I let someone down?” For some, they are paralyzed by the thought that they will damage people or the cause of Jesus in some way. These are big questions and concerns. Intentionality is the fundamental answer to these questions and concerns.

Intentionality is being deliberate or purposive. It is having and following a plan; it is knowing where to take people and how to help them get there. It is love expressed on a journey. Intentionality is the Spirit’s way in disciple making.

Get more content like this in person at the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum.

This is one of the largest gatherings of disciple makers in North America with 65+ workshops, 15+ speakers, and 10+ tracks. Join us to learn practical ways to make disciples of Jesus this November 9-10 (Thursday-Friday). Register for the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum here.

Pursuing Intentionality

Here are statements from a person intentionally pursuing intentionality:

  • I will find the material to use in discipling relationships
  • I will learn what to do by having another disciple maker show me
  • I will share that I am a learner and ask those I am discipling to be gracious with me
  • I will seek guidance and coaching to become as effective as I can at disciple making
  • I will share my learnings with other disciple makers and keep growing.

We may not feel completely competent to make disciples, but we can learn how to become effective at it as described above..

The Master Plan

Almost 55 years ago, Robert Coleman wrote the book, The Master Plan of Evangelism. It is the gold standard on Jesus’ method of disciple making. It sold multiple millions of copies and has been translated into more than 100 languages. Many people do not grasp the nuance of the title: it is not the Masters’ plan, but the Master Plan. Jesus had a master plan; Jesus was intentional, with strategy and an end-result vision.

Intentionality is at the heart of following Jesus’ method of disciple making today. Jesus practiced it, Paul modeled it (2 Timothy 2:2), and effective practitioners today, both everyday Christians and pastors, swear by it.

Disciple making is love expressed on a journey. Jesus’ style of love is not just organic; it is also strategic. Jesus was relational and intentional. Disciple making is both with intentionality being big. Jesus was “organically intentional.” He was so brilliant at both loving people in their convoluted life situations and in disciple making, that he embodied love and intentionality simultaneously, beautifully and imperceptibly.

Let’s be like Jesus in the mission of making disciples. It is the greatest cause on planet earth.

Written by Bobby Harrington

Bobby Harrington is the Executive Director of, a national platform, conference, and ministry that advocates for Jesus’ style of disciple making. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in consulting and has spent years as a coach to church planters and senior pastors. He is the author of several books on discipleship, including DiscipleShift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman) and The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick).

with Montana it is love

I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America


not of fear but of power

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:6-12

Bible Reading f

Joel 1

Joel 2


Joel 3

2 Timothy 1