Take the Pressure off: Disciple Like John the Baptist

I have officially decided to stop modeling my discipleship ministry after Jesus.

Wait?  What?

I was meeting with a group of guys this morning in my office.  We are working through our discipleship ministry and each guy (me included) is trying to figure out how to be more effective in our ministries.  We are working systematically through a model of what a disciplemaker looks like.  Both in their personal life and their ministry. (I will share that with you in another post sometime).  But we are also working through Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism. If you haven’t read it. You should.

Coleman is looking at the ministry of Jesus and His time with His men.  He didn’t ask me, but I think he should have called it The Master Plan of Discipleship. He breaks down the Master’s plan to train the Apostles and thereby leaving the world with a group of world changers (disciplemakers) to change it.

Coleman divides the process into 8 phases, that overlap for sure.  There is even a rumor that if he wrote a new edition that he would add a new chapter related to the incarnation.  A friend of mine heard him say that in a talk, but I don’t think he ever added it.  The phases (and chapter titles) are as follows.

  1. Selection
  2. Association
  3. Consecration
  4. Impartation
  5. Demonstration
  6. Delegation
  7. Supervision
  8. Reproduction

This morning we were talking about the 2nd phase of training- association.  By association Coleman is talking about the fact that after Jesus selected the twelve, he spent time (associated) with them. Listen to the first couple of paragraphs in chapter 2.

“Having called his men, Jesus made a practice of being with them. This was the essence of his training program—just letting his disciples follow him. When one stops to think of it, this was an incredibly simple way of doing it. Jesus had no formal school, no seminaries, no outlined course of study, no periodic membership classes in which he enrolled his followers. None of these highly organized procedures considered so necessary today entered into his ministry. Amazing as it may seem, all Jesus did to teach these men his way was to draw them close to himself. He was his own school and curriculum.”

“He was his own school and curriculum.”  Did you hear that?  The apostles were to study Jesus and then they would know what to do.  Super simple.  But how do I do that in my ministry?

It would scare the bejesus out of me to think that “Tim Howington was his own school and curriculum”.  I am not the model for anything.  But Coleman is suggesting that if we disciple like Jesus then we need to be allowing our disciples to associate or spend time with us. 

That is both staggeringly intimidating and practically impossible.  It took Jesus 3 years of 24/7 ministry with the men he chose to train them. And He was the perfect God-man.

I am the very, very, very imperfective man-man and people don’t want to hang out with me 24/7 and if I’m honest I don’t want to hang out with them that much either (no offense guys).  So, what does that mean for the modern day disciplemaker?

How do we live out the association model? As we were discussing it this morning, I was confessing to the guys that this is the most difficult phase for me as I don’t have the relational bandwidth to add even more time with me on the schedule for guys I am trying to help.

I just don’t. Maybe that makes me weak, or uncommitted but I don’t have that kind of margin.

But maybe that’s not the goal.

Maybe I am not trying to make Tim Howington disciples.

But rather I am trying to make disciples of Jesus.

He is the one they need to associate with.  He is the one they need to spend time with.  He is the one they need to learn from.  He is the one who will show them the way.  He is the one who guides them into truth.  He is the one who has life abundant and life eternal. And He is with them always.  They can have everything they need from Him.

I need to point them to Jesus. Like John the Baptist did.

Listen to how John describes his ministry in John 3

25 Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” 27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. 28 “You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. 30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3

He must increase, but I must decrease.  That is the essence of our disciplemaking ministry.  We have got to figure out how to make our processes and discipleship approaches to point the people we are discipling  to Jesus.

We need to disciple like John the Baptist.  Point them to Jesus.

Tim Howington. Follower of Jesus. Husband to Terri. Dad to to Josh. Wanna be writer. Bird Watcher. Beginner Watercolorist.  Novice Fly Fisherman. Discipler of Men. Some people call me the Howitzer.

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