Monthly Archives: November 2017

57 posts

Make Time for What Matters Most—Following Jesus

 

This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Invest in a Few: Giving Your Life to What Matters Most. Download it free here.


I saw an illustration that has stayed with me for years now because it showed so well our limitations of time. A woman took a large glass jar with various sizes of rocks, pebbles, and sand. She put all the rocks into the jar. As she struggled to get all the rocks in, it became clear that this task was harder than it looked. After she had done all she could do, there were still rocks left on the table. Then, she emptied her jar and tried again, this time putting in the big rocks, followed by the smaller rocks, then the pebbles, and last, the sand. Amazingly, she got all the rocks in the jar.


This is from Craig Ethredege’s eBook, Invest in a FewDownload the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.


In many ways our lives are like this glass jar. We have a certain capacity for doing good things, and that capacity is limited. We have only a certain number of hours in the day. The rocks and sand represent various tasks and priorities that demand our attention. The big rocks are the most important things like work and family. The smaller rocks are less important things, and the sand represents trivial things we do each day that are usually necessary but not very important in the grand scheme of life. The trick is fitting all we need into the time we have. If you try to randomly push everything into your schedule, you will most likely leave out something important. Your family isn’t going to get your best, your work will suffer, and your list of tasks won’t get done. Certainly the time to make disciples will disappear. But if you intentionally place the big rocks of your life in first, intentionally making room in your schedule for what matters most and fitting the rest around those things, you will be able to accomplish all the things God wants you to accomplish.

Finding the Time

As I talk with people who successfully make disciples year after year, I have discovered that each one of them named disciple making as a big rock in their lives. Making disciples wasn’t something they did with their extra time; it was a top priority with a primary spot in their weekly schedule.

If you are going to make disciples that make disciples, you must make it a priority in your life. That’s what Jesus did. During Jesus’ ministry he prioritized investing in a few. Around halfway into his public ministry, Jesus spent four times as much time with a few as he did with the crowd.[3] While the masses constantly demanded his time, he intentionally and purposefully invested his life in a few who would multiply. You may think, “How can I do that? I’m already so busy!” Let me give you a few suggestions.

1. Take an inventory of your schedule.

The man who discipled me, shared two key words with me that have helped me assess my schedule. He said, “Craig, you must eliminate the things that are not very important so you can concentrate on what’s most important.” The key words were “eliminate” and “concentrate”. Take a look at your schedule. How much of your time goes into things that are not important and don’t matter for eternity? What things could be eliminated from your life? How could you concentrate your time and be more productive?

2. Repurpose the time you already have.

Many people will say, “I’m just too busy to make disciples!” Usually I will ask, “Did you eat today?” “Yes,” the person will respond. “How many times did you eat?” “Three times” they will say. “You ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner?” I ask. “Yes, that’s right.” Then, I’ll say, “If you eat three times a day, then you have at least three opportunities in every day to make disciples.” What if you took just one mealtime a week—one meal out of twenty-one mealtimes—and gave it to the Lord for the purpose of sharing a meal and making disciples? As you begin to look at the time you already use, you will be surprised to find there are many ways to repurpose your time for making disciples.

3. Make an appointment.

Usually we make appointments for the things that really matter. If you are sick, you will make an appointment with a doctor. If you need legal help you will make an appointment with a lawyer. What matters most gets put on your calendar as an appointment. Why not make an appointment with your group to make disciples. It is just as important as any other appoint you have on the books, if not more important.

When I begin a group I will set an appointment for that group meeting. It may be early in the morning before typical work hours. When I schedule a meeting like that, I make it my first appointment for that day. It gets scheduled for each week on my calendar. Other groups may meet early on Saturdays. That, too, becomes an appointment I set for as long as the group exists, if possible. Carve out time to make disciples by making appointments and keeping them.

4. Be flexible and creative.

Many times the people are you are discipling have changing and flexible schedules. So don’t be afraid to be fluid, flexible, and creative. One time I was discipling a pilot whose scheduled changed every week according to his flights. We had to change our meeting time every week but remained faithful. Another time I discipled a professional golfer who was out of town extensively during golf season. We met as a group and had him conference call into our meeting every week. Technology allows us to communicate in creative ways. Don’t let the inability of a regular meeting keep you from investing in someone’s life.

Ultimately, making disciples is a matter of the heart. Jesus said, “Where you treasure is, there you heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, NIV). He was saying our time, talent, and treasure will always follow what has our heart. We always find time and money and energy for the things we love the most. So make following Jesus and investing in others people the heartbeat of your life and when you do, you will find the time necessary to accomplish it.

Written by Craig Etheredge

[3] Dann Spader, in his lecture on the life of Christ, indicates that according to his research in the gospels, Jesus is mentioned spending time with the crowd 17 times, but with “the few” 46 times, Disciplemaking from the Life of Christ (Chicago: Sonlife Classic, 2009) 8.

 


A gifted communicator, author, and Bible teacher and the Lead Pastor at First Colleyville, a thriving church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Craig Etheredge is the host of Morning Thrive, a radio program that covers central Texas. He is Founder and President of discipleFIRST ministries and a regular speaker at the FlashPoint Conference across the United States. Craig is also Adjunct Professor of Discipleship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and is actively involved in his local community serving on various boards.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

Jesus the Disciple Maker

This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Becoming a Disciple Maker. Download it free here.

As we read the gospels, we see Jesus as the master disciple maker. He spent most of His time and the best of His time in public ministry focused on that one thing. Jesus was all about relating to individuals as people of value. He accepted them where they were, but He didn’t leave them there. He loved them in spite of their foibles and through grace guided their transformation into a God-centered life.

Peter is a prime example of this. In Matthew’s gospel, one moment we see Jesus praise Peter for identifying Him as the Messiah, and then in the next moment He accuses Peter of being an ally of the enemy (Matt. 16:16-23). In John 18, Jesus asks Peter, James, and John to pray for and with Him during one of His most difficult hours. Then a few minutes later, Jesus chastises Peter for cutting off the ear of the Roman soldier, Malchus. In the same chapter, Peter emphatically states that he would “never” leave Jesus, only to deny ever knowing Him that same night. But Jesus never gave up on him. The same man who denied His master three times in a few hours became a founding disciple maker in the Jerusalem Church.

History tells us that Thomas reproduced himself as he traveled many places and eventually gave his life for the cause, despite being a doubting personality and one who was hard to convince (John 20:27). It was Phillip who brought Jesus to frustration when he simply couldn’t figure out what Jesus was saying (John 14:9). And in John 3, Nicodemus seems to be slow in comprehending the theological concept of being born anew spiritually. Martha was consumed in the details and lost sight of the important things in life (Luke 10:38). Zacchaeus had many shady dealings in his past, but Jesus saw his potential as an influencer of others.


This is from Bobby Harrington and Greg Wien’s free eBook, Becoming a Disciple MakerDownload the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.


Each of these men and women had their problems, and yet Jesus met them where they were and matured them into disciples, ultimately equipping them to make disciples of others. A person was never a dead end cul-de-sac of ministry for Jesus. He clearly saw their potential for personal transformation, as well as transforming others after He was gone.

Yet Jesus didn’t love these individuals just to see their lives changed. He had a much larger mission in mind. He desired to do what He came to earth to do—to transform their lives for eternity, empowering and equipping them to do the same for others. In the relatively short time that Jesus walked on earth with these faulty faithful few, He intentionally invested in each one to help him or her nurture an ongoing relationship with the living God—and a relationship that had a profoundly positive impact on everyone who encountered these followers. If we track what happened to each one, we see that these men and women went on to be used by God to change lives for eternity.

Jesus made disciples who made disciples. Let that sink in. Our Lord didn’t just make disciples; He made disciple makers. He modeled what He calls us to do. Part of aspiring to be like Him is to follow in His example, making disciples who become disciple makers.

Jesus was clear: Unless you’re intentionally making disciples, you have not yet become a mature disciple. It would have been absurd for His disciples to think they were not responsible for making disciples who made disciples. They didn’t need to put it on their to-do checklist. No one had to hold them accountable; for them, making disciples was as natural as breathing. Having heard and seen their Master, they knew they must be intentionally investing their lives in those who would also make the same investment in others. It’s what being a disciple is all about. The intentionality piece is big!

In the Book of Acts and the following epistles, we clearly see these same leaders practicing discipleship wherever they went. As they explained who Jesus the Christ was, and as people responded through faith, the early disciples helped these new converts grow in their relationship. In turn, they helped them reproduce their faith and life in others.

We also see the Apostle Paul modeling this behavior so clearly in the sixteen or more churches he planted. He found individuals who would walk beside him—whether they were making tents, starting small groups of followers, or sitting in jail—and help them reproduce their walk with others. Throughout the New Testament, Paul’s name is listed with at least forty-seven men and women that Paul invested in and nurtured. For Paul, disciple making wasn’t a classroom or small group experience; it was a life experience! Discipling another was life-on-life wherever he was.

He gives us a glimpse of this disciple making in 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “…so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well.” Here, we see how Paul’s passion for making disciples of those followers in Thessalonica went much further than simply sharing the Good News of Christ. Additionally, Paul literally lived his transformed life with them so that they could catch how disciples live fully committed to Christ and their Lord. Sharing his life, Paul lived, worked and simply enjoyed people. In the context of doing life with others, he intentionally sought to convey the principles of walking with Christ by faith and then how to transfer what he had learned to others.


The authors of this blog intended readers of this content to take The Disciple Maker Assessment.

Take the Disciple Maker Assessment here at no cost.


No less than seven times in the New Testament, Paul tells those he was discipling to do the same things they saw him do with them while he was with them. Wow! Now that’s transparency and authenticity! In 1 Corinthians 11:1, his directive is simple and clear: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Writing to the church of Thessalonica, Paul clearly illustrates the full process of being a disciple who makes disciples that makes disciples. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7, we find Paul writing to the small church he started, nurtured and then left, saying, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” Paul suggests that these followers clearly saw in him a disciple who lived among them. Based on their response of becoming disciples themselves, we know they welcomed his message. But the process didn’t end there. These followers went on to become models to those who lived around them.

What a wonderful model! Like Jesus before him, Paul not only lived as a disciple with others, he also taught this transference principle to those he discipled. The understanding was clear that they, too, would make disciples. As Paul writes to another one of his disciples, young Timothy, he reminds him to keep this reproduction going: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul reminds Timothy that not only should he make disciples, but that he should also make disciples who can make disciples who can then make other disciples. Paul sought to live the life that Christ modeled and taught. He exemplified this model and infused this multiplication DNA into every follower. It wasn’t about what one person could do, but rather the multiple generations that could result and the cumulative impact they all would have. Throughout the Bible, as well as the history of Christianity, people who make disciples don’t just look at the short-term impact they can make in people’s lives. They’re able to see the Kingdom expanded through the long-term impact of making disciples who make disciples. As we will see shortly, this is how eternity-shifting movements have been built.

Jesus, His disciples, and their followers all practiced living the life of a disciple—a life that naturally included making disciples who make disciples. This primary practice that Jesus taught and emulated has never changed.

__________

 

Written by Bobby Harrington and Greg Wiens


Bobby Harrington is the Executive Director of Discipleship.org, 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).

Greg Wiens has been assessing leaders and organizations for over 35 years. He has worked with a gamut of organizations ranging in size and interest from Fortune 100 companies and public schools, to small non-profits and churches. He has pastored and planted churches as well as founded a number of organizations. He currently leads two missionally focused organizations: Healthy Growing Churches and Healthy Growing Leaders committed to engaging churches and leaders to multiply. Greg has co-authored two books: Dying to Restart and Daring to Disciple.

Intro to Becoming a Disciple Maker Copy

This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Becoming a Disciple Maker. Download it free here.

In late 2016, a group of national disciple making experts gathered to spend time developing a paradigm by which people could evaluate their effectiveness as disciple makers. We received input from seasoned leaders, female and male alike, and were especially pleased to have venerable voices like Robert Coleman (author of The Master Plan of Evangelism) and others.1 Those nationally known disciple makers who rolled up their sleeves to help set the framework of this disciple-making tool included:

  • Bill Hull, author and founder of The Bonhoeffer Project.
  • Jim Putman, author, pastor and co-founder of the Relational Discipleship Network.
  • Robby Gallaty, author, pastor and founder of Replicate Ministries.
  • Ralph Moore, author, pastor and founder of the Hope Chapel Movement.
  • Monte Stark, author, pastor and director of Life on Life Ministries.
  • Dave Buehring, author, pastor, and founder of LionShare Ministry.
  • Todd Wilson, author and executive director of Exponential

Other facilitators were involved as well. I (Bobby) led the effort with Todd Wilson’s help. My co-author on this book, Greg Wiens, also helped with direction, and then we followed up with the material afterward.

With the help of these and other leaders, we have developed an objective and validated online Disciple Maker Assessment tool. We have also written this book to explain the tool and the way it gauges disciple makers. Our goal is to help individuals get an accurate perception of themselves as disciple makers so that they can then develop growth plans. We hope to encourage and inspire everyone to become Level 5 disciple makers—those who make disciples who then become disciple makers themselves. It’s the power of multiplication. We follow Jesus and learn to do what He did.

We have both benefitted greatly from working on this tool and writing about the principles and practices that undergird and support it. Before we go any farther, allow us to introduce ourselves. We want you to know a little bit about us, which may help you understand the vantage point we’re both writing from and doing life.

I (Bobby) am a lead pastor and church planter. My vantage point has been informed by the following:

  • Lead pastor (30 years)
  • Church planter
  • Coach and trainer of hundreds of church planters
  • Founder and director of a national coaching organization for church leaders
  • Leader in two national church network systems (Stadia and the Relational Discipleship Network)
  • Doctor of Ministry degree in consulting
  • Author of numerous books on disciple making, including the popular DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church Make Disciples That Make Disciples (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman) and (the recently released) Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick)2
  • Co-founder and executive director of Discipleship.org

It was just over ten years ago that I came to the firm conclusion that Jesus’ style of disciple making is the core mission of the Church.3 That awakening now informs everything I do and led me to establish Discipleship.org.


This is from Bobby Harrington and Greg Wien’s free eBook, Becoming a Disciple MakerDownload the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.


I (Greg) have been a lead pastor, church planter, assessor, and coach. My vantage point has been formed by over thirty-five years of experience, including the following:

  • Lead pastor
  • Church planter
  • Church, school, and business consultant
  • Developer of twenty-plus different assessment tools
  • Assistant professor of education (University of Central Florida/Warner Southern University)
  • Founder and chief catalyst for Healthy Growing Churches
  • Founder and chief catalyst for Healthy Growing Leaders
  • Doctorate of Education in psychometrics (University of Central Florida)

I have been an advocate for relational disciple making for the better part of the last four decades. However, at times in my life, I focused more on making disciples rather than intentionally focusing on making disciples who make disciples. I firmly believe there’s nothing more important today than being a disciple maker who makes disciples who make disciples—to the fourth generation.

Some Helpful Definitions

Discipleship.org has adopted a few definitions that many have found useful. They create clarity and give us handles for the disciple-making and multiplication conversation. In this book, we’re using the following four simple definitions (described in more detail in the book The Disciple Maker’s Handbook).3

  • A disciple – someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and is committed to the mission of Jesus (Matt. 4:19).
  • Disciple making – helping people to trust and follow Jesus.
  • Disciple maker – a Christian who enters into relationships with people to help them trust and follow Jesus.
  • Discipleship-first (person/tribe) – those who see themselves through the missional lens of being disciples who make disciples.

Our Goal

Both Greg and I believe that establishing common markers of the varied approaches to discipleship will be beneficial for the community of disciple-making disciples. We want to avoid elevating one author, method or approach to disciple making over another and instead, create synergy among disciple makers through creating a common language around an online tool.

We also want an online tool to help Christians develop an objective assessment of themselves as disciple makers. By establishing profiles and criteria, we create a benchmark—an objective standard by which we can compare ourselves to the standard of effective disciple makers today.

The practical levels we use are simple and easy to understand and apply—aligning with Exponential’s Becoming 5 framework based on five levels of multiplication capacity for churches.4 Our levels for measuring personal discipleship include:

  • Level 1 (Subtracting from disciple-making efforts)
  • Level 2 (Plateaued, neither helping nor hindering disciple making)
  • Level 3 (Adding, supporting disciple making)
  • Level 4 (Reproducing, personally making disciples)
  • Level 5 (Multiplying, personally making disciple makers)

Each of these disciple maker levels is unique. We have found that each one has common ways of thinking about God, people, being a disciple, the Kingdom, and what it means to make disciples of Jesus. The more likely someone lives out the Kingdom mindset, practices intentionality, and views their effectiveness from a long-term perspective, the farther they move along the disciple-making scale.

Jesus is our model. Jesus is the pattern for Level 5 disciple makers. He did not just make disciples; He made disciple makers. We both believe that becoming a disciple maker is a really big deal. We have written this book to help you understand our online assessment tool, use it as a map so that you can plot your progress, and then pursue further development as a disciple maker. Our passionate prayer is that you’ll aspire to become someone who makes disciples who make disciples. We pray you become a Level 5 disciple maker.

__________

Notes:

1 Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism. This book is the gold standard for analysis of Jesus’ disciple-making style.

2 Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick, The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (Zondervan, 2017).

3 Jim Putman and Bobby Harrington, with Robert Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Shifts that Help Your Church Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Zondervan, 2013). See also, Bobby Harrington, Relational Discipleship is the Core Mission of the Church (Discipleship.org, 2013).

4 Todd Wilson, Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church (Exponential Resources, 2016).

 

Written by Bobby Harrington and Greg Wiens


Bobby Harrington is the Executive Director of Discipleship.org, 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).

Greg Wiens has been assessing leaders and organizations for over 35 years. He has worked with a gamut of organizations ranging in size and interest from Fortune 100 companies and public schools, to small non-profits and churches. He has pastored and planted churches as well as founded a number of organizations. He currently leads two missionally focused organizations: Healthy Growing Churches and Healthy Growing Leaders committed to engaging churches and leaders to multiply. Greg has co-authored two books: Dying to Restart and Daring to Disciple.