EP 212 – MAKING DISCIPLES w/o OVERWORKING
Well, Bootcampers the guys are back at it again and talking more about discipleship. Here’s the deal, making disciples is a ministry mandate (Matthew 28) and it’s also something that many struggle to do. Jimbo mentions a great article by Karl Vaters on discipleship and how Pastors can go about it without overworking themselves. Check out Karl’s post here and listen as the guys break it down from their perspective.
- Meet with every new Believer
- Determine how a persons learns and grows-specific and unique to them.
- Connect them with mature believers and the right resources (share in the disciple-making process)
- Help them discover their gifts, be trained in them and use them in the church.
- Call on developing disciples to develop disciples themselves.
What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you, give us your insights and experience and keep the conversation going.
While you are at it, connect with our great sponsor and friends at One Eighty Digital, they can show you the way to connect with your community and let them know about your church.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the boot camp. Bob, I hope you’re ready for the next episode. Back at it again. Tulsa edition, here in the hotel where you have dawned the beautiful purple and gold pajama top. I was looking at some of the social media
Bob Bickford: Oh yeah. A
JimBo Stewart: our friend in Louisiana, said it looked beautiful.
Uh, he was very grateful to see you in those colors. David Jackson said it looked nightmarish and he will never be able to
Bob Bickford: unsee it.
Ha ha ha ha ha. He’s an Alabama fan, which is, I, it’s, has he ever lived in Alabama? Yeah, he,
JimBo Stewart: He, yeah, he, he lived in Tuscaloosa. His dad was a pastor in Tuscaloosa. He may have been born in Tuscaloosa, I think.
Bob Bickford: man, I know he was in Arkansas
JimBo Stewart: David has lived more places than anyone I know.
Like, he’s like, every time I’m like, Oh, you ever been? He’s like, Oh yeah, I lived there for like, 20, 27
Bob Bickford: 20 years.
Did he ever live in Alaska? Because I mean, maybe so.
JimBo Stewart: No, I don’t think he’s ever lived in Alaska, but I know he did live, he lived, his [00:01:00] wife’s from Jacksonville.
He lived in New Orleans. He lived in Tuscaloosa. He lived in California. He lived up in the northeast. He’s in South Carolina now. Great team member for the replant team. Uh, but yeah, his comment was nightmarish. Uh, I can’t
Bob Bickford: Well, the shirt kind of looks like a, um, it’s like a camo pattern of, of, is it gold?
JimBo Stewart: Uh, yeah, purple
Bob Bickford: gold. and there’s some black in there. And, um, you know, so I guess I could hide out at an LSU game.
JimBo Stewart: But,
Bob Bickford: But I don’t know if I would want to, go to Death Valley. I don’t think I’ve, I don’t know that it, well, I have cheered for LSU. The only time that I’ve ever cheered for LSU is when they’re playing Alabama.
JimBo Stewart: We should go to a Battle of the Boot together. Yeah. in Death Valley. We should like, one year let’s go, let’s do two years in a row. Let’s do Death Valley one year and let’s do up in Fayetteville.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. The Fayetteville is great. I’d [00:02:00] love to see a game there. The stadium has changed a ton since I went to college there. And but yeah, that would be fun. Maybe we could, uh, you know, live stream some sections of it and have a good time. So
JimBo Stewart: we’ll, uh, we’ll start a, a GoFundMe for everybody to help us buy
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I don’t even know what tickets would cost. Crazy.
JimBo Stewart: Hey, I wanted to, to leapfrog backwards a little bit. Okay. We did an episode on, Theological education for your congregation,
Bob Bickford: right? Alright.
JimBo Stewart: and so we weren’t as much talking specifically about just your normal discipleship process as like, specifically theological education and how do we teach our people theologically.
And so I kind of wanted to come back on discipleship a little bit. I came across an article by Carl Vader’s. I like Carl.
he does some really good stuff, especially for small churches. It’s kind of his focus. And so, in a lot of ways, very similar. and look, we’re not in competition. We love to point you to great resources that are out there. Anything is helpful for what you’re [00:03:00] doing. We want you to jump in on. So there was this article, making disciples without overworking the pastor, a simple five step process.
So I want to talk through this with you, Bob, see what your thoughts are and what we maybe could add to the conversation as not just the theological education, but just the regular discipleship. stuff, because really we have to remember that so much of church revitalization really is about making disciples, right?
What is it Clifton says? Make, making disciples
that Make disciples.
that make community noticeably better. I think far too often discipleship processes are not intentional and we’re kind of hoping that they just happen. Uh, we do stuff and we’re like, I hope some disciples Discipleship stuff happens, in these programs that we have.
And so this goes a little deeper into like, how do we customize it? And how do we really think about each member? That’s one of the benefits you have in a smaller church. Is you, you can kind of think more towards each member than if you’re in a larger church.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, and I think the, the thing I’ve learned over time is that discipleship [00:04:00] is very relational. Yes. And because it’s very relational. the, you can, you can approach it institutionally, right? But I think it, because it’s relational, if you take the intentional route and you just say, what, what am I going to do here to see, that, and again, I’ll go back to Colossians The goal that we have is to proclaim Christ, to warn and teach.
And then I love what a 29 says that we may present everyone mature before Christ. So there’s a discipleship. That, that has to take place for every single person, regardless of their age, helping them take a step towards Jesus and you can do some organized things institutionally. And when I say that, I mean like church wide, right?
You can do some really helpful things, but you’re going to miss some folks. For whom that doesn’t fit either in terms of where they are with the Lord and their walk in their, uh, age, spiritual age, or, their, their time availability. And so I think we’ve got to have all kinds of opportunities to, to help people take the next step with Jesus.
And I think what Carl has [00:05:00] done here is he’s really kind of given us a framework that helps us see that in ways that are beyond just the program, right? Let’s do the programs. But let’s also take a personal, intentional approach as well.
JimBo Stewart: Yes. A couple episodes ago, we talked about we recommended the book No Silver Bullets by Daniel M.
That’s good for your kind of institutional, programmatic, how do you think about this corporately for the whole body. This article that we’ll have linked in the show notes. Kind of drills down into how are we thinking about each person and their own discipleship? So he starts out with meet with every new believer
I think about this often when I see like a bunch of people get baptized.
I think Man, I wonder if anybody, not just, I understand most likely somebody met with them to see if they truly needed to be baptized. But beyond that, I’m always, I hope that someone is meeting with them one on one just, just to hear their story, get to know them a little bit. [00:06:00] But if you’re the pastor of a large church, you can’t meet with every new believer.
You gotta, that’s where you’re equipping the saints to do that work in ministry. But I think, Take advantage of the fact of having a smaller congregation. That’s what Carl argues for here is, is, is, yeah, every new believer that you, you can do it, right? You can have a coffee meeting, a lunch meeting, a in their home pastoral visit or, Just in the hallway or the lobby at church, but you you can have a meeting with every single new believer in your church And here’s the deal if you’re going to push back on that then praise god because you’re leading so many people to jesus You don’t have time.
That’s great. That’s a great problem to have
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that by taking this step, what you’re trying to do is to get them pointed in the right direction. Yeah. Right. So, I think what we’re talking about is maybe an initial meeting to understand their story, their Jesus story, how they came to faith, And then figure out how can I help them take a couple of more steps with Jesus.
Right? So that’s what we’re talking about.[00:07:00]
JimBo Stewart: Well, and remember the, this article is titled Making Disciples Without Overworking the Pastor. Yeah. So it may at first feel like, wow, now you’re adding more work, but you gotta keep going. And you’ll see that in this process, it, you don’t end up discipling all the new believers.
Right. So step two, Determine how they learn and grow. He says, Here’s an example. Based on my meeting with a new believer who had no Bible knowledge whatsoever, after a short exploratory conversation, I determined that the best way for him to start growing in his newfound faith was to read the Gospel of John.
I told him to start by reading one chapter a day, just chew on it. And if you wanted to re read the same chapter the next day, then do that, until he was ready to move on to the following chapter. And I checked in on him, and a couple of Sundays later, he was only on John 5. And I, he said, I sat with John 3 for a few days.
And he told me with great joy, that conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus was fantastic. And so he smiled, and he goes, he’s getting it, right? God’s doing… God’s word was doing its work. And after that, they caught up regularly and went through the Book of Acts and [00:08:00] continued on. The point here is, it doesn’t have to be a cookie cutter exact approach with every single believer.
Kind of get to know ’em, get to know who they are, get determine how they learn and grow, and help come up with a plan that can help them take the next step forward.
Bob Bickford: I love his, uh, bullet point questions in this section where he really kind of
unlayers the background of the person that you’re meeting with.
and so, you know what, I just, let’s, let’s say this, you know, most of the time, when we have meetings as pastors, we recommend, you know, Pastors meet with guys, right? So, same gender, or if you’re going to meet with a lady, you know, bring your wife. Bring, uh, another trusted leader, female leader in the church, right?
Just so, you know, cause you have that importance of that, that safeguarding in that relationship. But there’s some things that contribute to our ability to grow in Christ that have a little bit, maybe quite a bit to do with our background. And so he, he points some things [00:09:00] out here. and I love these bullet points.
He said, what was their family like growing up? Right. And so there’s some, some family of origin dynamics. How did they like school? Do they like to read? Are they hands on learner? Are they relationship oriented? do they, what do they do in their spare time? What was their best learning experience in the past?
All these kinds of things. And he goes on to ask. So really, I think what he’s trying to do is customize some suggestions. For, a person who’s seeking to grow in their walk with Christ. And so Jimbo, we, we’ve done this all the time with pastors. Like we’ve said, okay, you’re a bivocational guy. You, you don’t have a lot of time to read.
Um, how about listening to some books? Right. How about listening to some podcasts? you, maybe love to read. And so you really want to dig deep in a resource, or maybe you like to read, but, but you’re, you don’t have any kind of religious background. And so you’re trying to figure out some things.
And so we can really customize a learning style and approach, and content based on getting to know somebody rather than saying, and the back in my day, it was, it was, there were two things that particularly in student ministry, we would give new believers something [00:10:00] called the survival kit, which was really
good. or if you know, in my college years, it was, uh, I think it was Paul little’s book, know what you believe. Was one, there were some master life courses from Avery Willis back in the SBC days. And then also in student ministry, we use these Billy Beecham student discipleship manual material, right?
Fill in the blanks, have a discussion and all those things are framework, right? To get conversations going about the scriptures and about application unto having conversations. And so I think the, the, what, where we got lost in the eighties, perhaps the eighties, the late eighties and the nineties. was we would toss resources at people and expect that to be enough.
And expect them to take a self guided journey through material rather than having a relationship with somebody who could have conversations about what they were studying.
JimBo Stewart: That’s key. That’s so good because I get. you’re trying not to be overworked, right? And so if you can have a book that you can just hand somebody, certainly that would be easier. And that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about before on the podcast [00:11:00] is… You can’t think with an efficiency
Bob Bickford: when it comes
JimBo Stewart: when it comes to discipleship.
there are areas of leadership that you can think with an efficiency mindset, but discipleship can’t be
Bob Bickford: of them.
JimBo Stewart: because it’s not efficient. it’s individualized and customized and relational and, it’s touch and go and it’s up and down and back and forth and, and so many different things.
And so. So, you gotta spend some time as, you know, figuring out, you, or you gotta train your leaders, your elders, your deacons, or whatever. How are we meeting with new believers, young believers, and immature believers, and helping them figure out, and how they learn, and, and create a plan. So then the third. Connect them with a mature believer and the right resources. there are new believers in our church who meet regularly with mature believers to learn, grow, and be discipled. Each one of them does it differently depending on their circumstance. So this is where you start kind of matchmaking, right?
This is where you move from the not being overworked. So you kind of get the ball rolling, but… This is where you also get to [00:12:00] really equip the saints to do the work of ministry and figure out, you know, who would be really good for you to meet with on a regular basis is so and so, and they could really walk this with you.
And you start to matchmake that a
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think there’s, there’s um, Um, I’ve heard this
and by recently, I probably say in the last four or five years, maybe even longer than that.
We typically have kind of the one mentor or the one
discipler model stuck in our minds. And there’s a trend to say, you don’t just need one person to disciple or mentor you, you need several. Right. You need, you need folks who are, good at prayer. You need folks who are good at, scripture study. You need folks who are good at, you know, serving.
You need folks who are good at family and all those sorts of things. And rarely do you find one person who’s good at everything. And so if you had have a host of disciples. A host of mentors, you know, it makes me think of the great hall of fame of faith in Hebrews, right? That we learn from a variety of, people [00:13:00] who walk with the Lord and who are, you know, gifted or excel in one particular way over another.
So what I would simply say is find several folks who can help you grow in, in your walk with Jesus. So that you’re not dependent upon one. And then I would also say this too. There’s a little bit of safety in that, in that Jimbo, sometimes our mentors and those who disciple us. They kind of let us down, right?
For whatever reason, they’re not perfect. Maybe they’re struggling in some areas of their own life. And then we don’t place all of our hopes and all of our maturity, you know, being trained in Christ, on one person, right? I have seen Jimbo, folks who are
talented and gifted and believers, But maybe they have some character issues that are, you know, overshadowed by, there’s, they overshadow their strengths.
And so sometimes people who are discipled by them take on that personality. Right. And so to be a well rounded follower of Jesus, we need a group of people who disciple now. We don’t need to be. Like going from [00:14:00] person to person to person, but we need seasons with certain people over time who can help us mature in some ways that, that maybe we’re not mature.
JimBo Stewart: And so part of even how you would know this is not just meeting with every new believer, but you’ve got to kind of get to know the people you’re leading so you can know who would be good at helping lead in different areas, right?
Bob Bickford: Yep.
JimBo Stewart: All right, so next, step four, help them plug into an active ministry that utilizes their gifts. Carl Vader says, This is the most neglected step of most new believer programs. We fill people’s heads with Bible knowledge, but we wait too long to activate that knowledge with real world ministry, and it’s dangerous for the believer and for the church.
One of the main reasons for pastoral stress in church members with a lot of Bible knowledge who are doing little if any Practical hands on outside the church walls ministry is where we talked about last week You talked about we you know, maybe too educated Some people are they have all this bible knowledge, but they’re just not actually [00:15:00] living anything
Bob Bickford: out
Mm-hmm. . Yeah. all the time we see that. And, and I think too, there’s a mistake that leaders make Jimbo, and, and here’s the mistake.
We approach discipleship in a sequential, linear way and say that there are in our minds that people are not mature enough to serve, right? And there’s this sliding scale of maturity that in some people’s minds, it’s unachievable.
Like when, when do you, when am I, when am I mature enough to hand out bulletins or, or. Help clean the church or, you know, do whatever it is, help out with the kids. Like, you know, uh, there’s going to be a point where I’m going to have to, begin to exercise my gifts because part of, of growing as a disciple is exercising your gifts and realizing, oh man, there’s a.
There’s a lot I need to learn in doing that. And I was talking with, with, my pastor, actually, we were having this conversation and, [00:16:00] um, and Clifton will say this too, that, uh, you know, he was consulting a church one time and they said, well, we don’t have any young people who are qualified to be deacons.
And Clifton told the folks who were telling him that well. It’s your job to qualify them, right? And so how do you do that? You, you do that by actually getting them engaged in ministry, not, and we’ve really messed this up with our educational system, right? We, we have to go for a long, lengthy time period to get a grasp on content before we feel like somebody can actually do something.
And what we’re seeing a shift in is people who are learning on the job training, who are doing some things experientially. And Jimbo, we’re raising up generations who will look at YouTube and try to figure out some things and do it on their own, right? But what that shows us is that there’s something about us that wants to do and try while we’re growing and learning.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, but we want to do it in a safe place where we know we’re supported and loved and encouraged. And, [00:17:00] and so, then he moves on to step five, which is really how you keep this thing as a flywheel. Just moving right as people mature. So you’ve gone steps one through four with somebody as you see them mature, call on them. to start leading others. That’s when you can start identifying them to be the one stepping up and taking on somebody else.
Uh, and look, don’t wait until they have a master’s degree. Like, just as you see some maturity, find somebody younger in the faith than them that they can start to pour into in some way. Discipleship’s never finished, but even the most mature believer still has something to learn. But the best way, he says, for a mature believer
keep learning is to teach others as they do the ministry together.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, there’s a pastor, who is next door to us in Webster and, his name was, uh, Michael Peters. They called him Pastor Pete. I met with him before I became the pastor at our church and he was explaining to me his discipleship strategy and he said, here, here’s what a disciple is and here’s how you disciple someone.
you disciple [00:18:00] someone who you are just a little bit ahead of in the faith. Right. You don’t have to have a complete, like, grasp of everything, but you just need to be a little bit further along than they are in the faith. And you just tell them what you’ve learned. Tell them what you know. And he said, that’s what we do.
We just say, look, are you, are you a little bit further ahead in your faith than they are? Great. Meet with them and talk about what you’re learning. And in Jesus in, in your study of the scriptures and those sorts of things. And, and so what you do is like you said, it’s a flywheel. Everybody’s got a disciple.
Remember people would say, everybody needs a. Paul, everybody needs a Timothy, you know, everybody needs a Barnabas, you know, and so who are you, who’s your Paul, who’s your Barnabas, who’s your Timothy, right? and so there is something to that, like we need, we need people at all levels engaged in our lives, we need to be discipling others.
And so I think this is a great suggestion. Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: I recommend starting with one person. He said, [00:19:00] that’s what I did. I walked a new believer through the early stages of discipleship myself, including letting them know that they’d be doing ministry themselves in this way someday. And then when another new believer came along, I showed them how to adapt what we’ve done with this new believer.
Believers discipling believers. And so, you just start with one. Like, you don’t have to, you don’t have to be discipling 75 people every
Bob Bickford: year. No.
JimBo Stewart: If you as a pastor will truly disciple one person of maturity every year, and then you teach them how to do it, I mean, that’s, that will eventually revitalize your church, right?
You become a healthier church if you really do that.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. You know, Jesus had 12, he focused on three, and then there were 72, And it builds out from there. And so each of those guys, these were three, the 12, they were all discipling other people. They had to be. And that’s why we’re here today. And so there’s, there’s the discipleship flywheel.
If we’ll all choose somebody to build into for a season and, and we make that a regular part of our [00:20:00] congregation, then what you have is you, you have a connected body. that’s growing and becoming healthy and is living on mission. And so, man, get that discipleship flywheel going and it can start with just one person.
So, I would just challenge the pastors, who’s the one person in your congregation that you feel drawn to that you believe the Lord would be calling you just to spend time with and talk with them about how they’re maturing and following
JimBo Stewart: One of the hardest things we did redemption was, we made it a rule for elders and deacons. have to be discipling someone like it has to be someone you’re actively in a discipleship relationship with. And that was harder to implement than I thought it
Bob Bickford: be.
JimBo Stewart: Um, but it was crucial. That the leaders of the church because I told the guys I said, here’s the deal if at the very least we may not Get a lot of things right here but at the very least every one of us is Actively discipling then we’re doing something I mean we’re moving the needle and this is gonna be a [00:21:00] healthier church and a healthier community because we did that It’s not because we had dynamite music and amazing preaching and the coolest facilities and the best Children’s wing. think part of why we saw our church get healthier was we just started discipling
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Well, it’s a great commission Jimbo, right? Go and make disciples, teaching them to observe all things I’ve commanded you, right? So I mean, that’s what we’re called to do. Not have a, you know, a cool hip and trendy service and you know, coffee bar and all these other things like that. I mean, those things are nice, and helpful, but it’s all, they all have to be in service of proclaiming the gospel and making disciples who