Connecting with the Core: Disciple Making

Originally Posted on January 12, 2021

Webinar Transcript

– Good morning, we’re gonna begin our webinar now. And certainly, it is the Christmas season. And we are grateful that in this season that you have joined us for this time together. We are continuing in our connect series, and we have already processed our way through webinars on connecting with the creator. And then again, I wanna back up and say that this connect process is a process of church health and church wellness. And so as we’ve been doing these series of webinars, each one of them are part of that whole process to get to a point where your church is a healthy church, great commission church, and making disciples, reaching people with the gospel. So again, great to have you today. We’ve already looked at connecting with the creator through renewal and through worship, and we’ve looked at connecting in the, or with the community. And that was our last webinar. This webinar is connecting with the core, community has to do with the larger groups of Sunday school and small groups and connecting to the core has more of a disciple-making smaller, more intentional approach to disciple-making. And so the guys that are a part of it today, they’re hands-on guys in this process. They are doing it, they’re practicing it, they’re practicing medicine, so to speak. They’re into it, and we’re grateful for all of them. After this, I wanna just to continue that process, we’re gonna be looking at in January, connecting with the commission. And that has to do with connecting to the culture or your local community and connecting individually with sharing the gospel as well. So that gives you kind of a synopsis of where we are, where we’re heading, where we’ve been. And so great to have Daniel Edmonds leading today, director of our office Sunday school and discipleship, et cetera. And he is going to take it from here. I’m gonna lead us in a word of prayer. And he’s gonna share about the guys who are in on the panelists today. By the way, Office of Leader Care and Church Health, we’re grateful, again, at any point in time that we can help you in any way with the connect process, answer any questions. Please don’t hesitate to call on us. Also, please use the Q and A at the bottom for questions and the chat to the side to communicate between yourselves. All right, Daniel.

– Well, thank you, Ken. It’s good to be back with you today. And with this panel, one of the things, just to put a perspective on this, Jesus taught the masses. Anytime there’s teaching going on of that nature, it’s open for all to come, especially when you’re teaching what I like to call gospel basics, how to be in the kingdom of God. If we wanna say that we have a gospel orientation to those open groups, but today we’re moving into the pattern of what Jesus taught us and how to make disciples. And so what we’ll be talking about today, I hesitate to use the word group, because we have in mind as Baptists, what groups are for. Mark’s gonna help us talk about that in a little while, but to say in another way, these gatherings are closed, and they’re much smaller than what we normally see. And so that’s why we call this the core, because you’re coming from a really large group to medium size group down to the core, and the people on the panel today typically refer to that core when they meet as a huddle. Because these are people that are clearly on the team and you have a common goal in mind. And so we’ll dig a little bit deeper today, as we talk about connecting to the core, let me quickly introduce or reintroduce you to these members. And I’m just gonna introduce them as they appear on my screen. Robert Mullins is pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Elmore, formerly called Mount Hebron West, if you’re familiar with that. But as they transitioned toward disciple-making, they also transitioned in the church and focusing more on building community there at really a crossroads in Elmore. So it’s very aptly named. All three of these men have been part of our coaching consultants and have been up and down the road together on church revitalization, of which disciple-making is certainly key in church revitalization. And Robert has been a great help for us in that. He is also over PassionTree Network. And which is basically networking pastors to love on each other, care for each other, minister to one another, to stay away from the danger zone for a lot of pastors, which is isolation and loneliness. And then Mark Gainey is a pastor of Fultondale First Baptist Church. And I’ll let the cat out of the bag. January one, Mark will be part-time state missionary, strategist for disciple-making. And so we’re glad to have Mark here. He’s on the board of directors for Incite Ministries, which is a great way to segue over to Andy Frazier, who is part of Incite Ministries, but also is pastor of Grace Baptist in Sumiton. He is intentionally co-vocational. We talked a moment ago, if you saw his Christmas decoration was made out of horseshoes. He is a farrier. He’s used horses, that is his other vocation, but he is a key disciple maker. And we’re gonna jump in in a moment and talk about disciple-making, and I’m really going to juxtapose Robert and Andy in the sense that they came into this disciple-making world in two different directions. So Robert, I’m gonna start with you and tell me a little bit about your background and understanding of disciple-making.

– Well, first of all, I say that all the time that it took a lot of people to disciple me, and I still am being discipled, and it is a wonderful journey that I’m on. I can, I mean, it started with my dad for sure. And then my dad to probably my older brother to my youth pastor, and the list just goes on from there. And people that I, at some points, I intentionally just decided, I need to hang around with this person, because they have it. And they wanted to pour into me. And so whether it was somebody in ministry that you could say, well, they’re like a mentor. Well, they were like a mentor, but they were discipling me. They were literally giving me the stuff to walk in on growth and that I could share with others in the future. But in youth ministry, I was a youth pastor for 22 years. And in youth ministry, that’s just the way we did it. That is the way that we did ministry was life on life discipling, just really trying to encourage and equip the body of Christ to do the ministry of the gospel, and the way you did that was through relationship. I had a senior pastor that I served with, by the way, I had some incredible senior pastors that I worked with, but I had one in particular that asked me one time, “Why do you have kids over to the house all the time? You need to set up some boundaries. You need to set up this stuff.” And I totally think boundaries are incredible and incredibly important. However, the reason we had students at our house all the time is because we were discipling them. We had a, I remember when I was in Tuscaloosa, prior to coming here, at my last place in youth ministry, I remember getting home from a meet.

– That sure was gonna be really good. I sensed it.

– Yeah.

– The meeting that I had-

– There it is.

– Did I freeze up?

– Yeah, you froze up, try that again.

– Oh, I apologize. I came home from a meeting. Yeah, that’s spectrum cable for you. Yeah, so I came home from a meeting, and we had a window where my wife had to get our boys to their huddles. And I was about to start one with the older students at our home. But when I got there, the students were in the kitchen, they were cooking some Rotel and chips and stuff. They were doing all that good stuff. No one that was in the house lived in the house when I got there. And I was, it just blew me away that the kids were so comfortable, that they were just doing life in my home. And that’s the environment that I try to even do as a pastor now to create that that we learned. Because to me, even, I remember a conversation with my wife about, well, “How are you gonna be a senior pastor? How are you, okay, you’ve been called to do this now, go do this, what are you gonna do?” And I said-

– He’s gonna do what he always does. That’s what his next statement was.

– He leaves us right there on the precipice of, you know he’s gonna say something profound.

– Oh, I know. Guys, I apologize. Can you hear me now?

– Yep, you’re good.

– So, anyway, just saying that we passed our church the same way we did youth ministry, and that’s by making disciples.

– Okay. Andy, your journey toward disciple-making was much different.

– Yes. I love to hear the stories of Robert and Mark and Daniel when we get together and talk about this, and how over the years, they had pastors and church members and leaders invest in them and pour in them. When I was a young Christian, I had some great people in my church who were great Sunday school teachers and just great Christians to model your life after, but none of them ever intentionally invested in me. And when I started feeling the call to ministry, I actually went to my pastor, and he told me that he knew I was called to ministry. He was very encouraged by it. And he pretty much said, he gave me about three days notice when I was gonna preach my first sermon. And he said, “You can figure it out.” And that was kind of the way things went for me. You can figure it out. I sought out around 30 plus pastors that I knew or had heard of, wrote them cards, made phone calls, visited their churches, and just begged them. Give me some time. Let’s have lunch. I would love to come sit down in your office. I wanna know what ministry is like, how I can prepare, and got shot down. Let’s just say it that way, time after time. And rather than being discouraged by that, I just kind of looked at what I was already doing. The trade I was involved in, I was already an apprentice to learn a trade, to learn a skill. And I knew I needed somebody further down the road from me, so I started looking at every resource I could get my hands on, books at the time instead of the internet, because that’s been a while. And I just kind of started learning for myself. And then I started grabbing some other guys who were kind of in the same boat with me. And we started learning together. And had no idea that that was the process that was kind of forming in me the desire to be a disciple maker. And a few years after that, somebody put some resources in my hand that helped me understand the idea of not just having a glorified Bible study and prayer and accountability time, but the idea of multiplication became evident, that that’s what Jesus did, so that’s what we need to do. So that was kind of my journey. And that’s where my heart is now. I have a deep sense of passion and longing to help other guys who are leading the local church to understand how to better do that, how to understand to be a disciple and make disciples.

– You know, Andy, I remember our first conversation really about disciple-making. Andy and I’d met through conferencing and other things through the years. But his wife’s grandmother is a member of a church I’m helping with right now. And she had her 90th birthday. Andy and I sat down for a few moments and I said, “Andy, we’re trying to focus on disciple-making in the state of Alabama.” And I barely got the sentence out before he said, “I’m in.” So desperately needed. And so Robert was part of that group in the early onset of it. There are plenty who are on the line today like Kevin Blackwell that were part of the group from the very get go that were coming together and saying, “Look, where have we missed this on disciple-making?” And Robert probably was more of a natural experience, like we said. With Robert, there was even a point of maybe a more formal approach, if you will. Tell us a little bit about your path.

– Well, what happened was, like I said, I became a lead pastor from being youth minister. And honestly, one of the big things that I missed was the camps and retreats. And so Ashland Tree actually started out of a small group of pastors in the mountains in North Carolina. And at the end of the week that we had the first year, there were seven of us, a guy named Scott Kendig, he said, “Hey, what if I disciple you guys for a year?” And we were all over the place, literally the country. And so on a call like this, before it was cool, and we were doing once a week on Google Hangouts at that time. And we were doing this. It was like, for me personally, it was a sacred hour in 15 minutes, that man, I would shut my door and just tell everybody, I am not available right now. And you know, this once a week thing happened for a year, and it was absolutely amazing. And at the end of that, God had me do a round table here at Crossroads, Mount Hebron at the time. And Mark and Andy were both in that round table. We had 15 men there. And at the end of that, we had this one guy. He’s real quiet and shy, you might know him. His name’s Glenn Cuz Sandefur. we call him Cuz, ’cause he calls us Cuz, right. And so he’s incredibly, his heart is as big as his voice. And he’s just a great man of God. But he raised his hand and he said, “Hey, I got one problem with all this. Like I’m with it. I’ve been paying attention. I’m focused. I think it’s great stuff. I have been in the past for 30 years, I’ve been trained, equipped, been to seminary class, been to other stuff, been mentored, but I’ve got one problem. No one’s ever discipled me.” And then after he said that statement, he looked back and he said, “And what are you gonna do about it?” And so this is a guy who’s, he’s older than me. He’s been in ministry longer than me. I have a lot of respect for him as a lead pastor. And then he looks at me, points a finger, and says, “What are you gonna do about discipling me?” And thank goodness, we had another meeting the next day. And I came back, prayed after that, God just was really all over that question, that he pointed in public to ask me. And came back the next day and said, “Hey, we’re gonna start this huddle. And if you wanna be a part of it, we’re gonna go the distance.” And that’s what I did. So it was a real neat catalyst, tipping point, whatever you wanna call it. But it was that moment where God began to do a movement here. And I’ll just be honest with you. And it’s not about me necessarily, because you do have that point of obedience where I started that year. But there was an incredible tipping point of obedience when the next year with those next seven, those guys, those other pastors, Andy, Mark, others, Glenn, Mark Hodges, other guys like that took it and multiplied from there. And now we have easily over 200 pastors that are being, right now. I mean, we started two new groups two months ago, three new groups two months ago in just the round table meeting. And I know that it’s beyond that, because I know Mark and Andy had groups that multiplied and went from there. So that’s the kind of movement, but it does take one person to say, “Hey, I wanna be discipled, I wanna be a part of this.” And then when you do, as a pastor, you have a unique opportunity. Number one, to disciple where you are. Make disciples that make disciples that make disciples. But you, and lead a church through that. But you also have an opportunity to lead and disciple other pastors, because that’s still the thing. It just seems so overwhelming the number of pastors that would say I’ve never been discipled, just like Cuz did. And so we have this great, I think it’s even an opportunity more than a responsibility, obviously it’s a responsibility, but just the opportunity there to walk with other pastors is such a unique opportunity we have. And that’s one of the things we wanna make sure everybody that’s joining this on the line today knows, if you’re like Cuz and you’ve never been discipled, we’ve got groups that you can become a part of. It’s hard not to use that word group, but huddles that you can be in. You can contact myself, Robert, Mark, Andy, and we will help you find one. So if you said, well, I’ve never been discipled. In fact, some of you right now might be going, well, I heard mentoring and I’ve heard disciple-making, I’ve even heard that word group again, and I’ve heard this and that. And I’m not sure, but what I’m getting a little tangled up. And so I’ve asked Mark to kind of at this point make some distinction. Now that we’ve heard some stories and background, let’s make some distinction in how is disciple-making different from groups. And ultimately, we’ll talk about how it’s different from mentoring and finding your place of service. So Mark, help us out there.

– Sure, I think it is a very, it’s a simple but very important distinction. And if, I don’t want you to think in terms of linear systems, but it is a process and a strategic approach. So each one of those plays a part in the process of overall discipleship and disciple-making, fulfilling that great commission. So you think of a group, right, small group, whether you call it Sunday school, or small groups, or life groups, or community groups, whatever you call it. That group itself and the group strategy of a church, big picture, they have a distinct goal in mind. They have a distinct end. And so really, there’s a couple of things that a group wants to do. Obviously, it wants to help people grow and learn to connect to other people. You really, the group strategy should be that connect part. We’re talking about connect, right, should be part of that. But, and evangelism should be part of that. So the group strategy, your group should be open, for the most part, where new people can come, connect to other people, hear the gospel, those kinds of things. But really in the end, the goal of a group and the group strategy is to start a new group. So if God blesses that group and the cream rises to the top, then you’re gonna have identified an apprentice or a potential new leader where you can equip and train them to go and start a new group. And so then where you had one group, now you’ve got two groups, right? That’s part of that multiplication process. But disciple-making is a little bit different. So we’re talking still about groups or huddles or whatever you wanna call it, discipleship groups, whatever you name it in your church. And those huddles are meeting. They’re smaller, they’re closed, like Daniel said, first of all. So they’re closed on purpose, because evangelism really isn’t an element. You’re wanting to be evangelists, but evangelism is not the reason you’re meeting as a huddle. You’re going deeper in community with each other and deeper in God’s word and deeper in spiritual growth. And so the goals are different. And while a larger group, you know, small group in your church, the strategy is to start a new group eventually. Even though our churches, let’s be honest, that we’re not doing a great job of that, but that’s the goal. The goal of a discipleship group is not a new discipleship group, right? So if you have one huddle, and then a year later, you have one more huddle, really, that is not a success story. The major distinction between those two kinds of groups, huddle really makes disciple makers, all right? So everybody, the goal in that huddle, everybody in that discipleship group or huddle should be after a year, a year and a half, however long your timeframe is, should be prepared, ready, equipped, and kind of commissioned to start their own huddle. And so this is kind of the pushback that we get more than anything else from people in our groups, in our huddles. They say, “Well, I can’t. I’m not that kind of person.” It’s because they’re thinking of that small group strategy where the person leading is a teacher or a lecturer or kind of an outspoken person, like a lot of us are, but in a D group or a huddle, you’ve got people who are gonna start huddles that next year that may be the most soft-spoken people you’ve ever met. They’re quiet, they’re introverts, but they can disciple other people, because disciple-making, and we’ll talk more about it in a minute, is really, it’s intentionally entering into somebody’s life, helping them to know and follow Jesus, and then equipping them to repeat that process. And so the goal at the end of a huddle or a D group is you’ve got a disciple maker. You come in the group as a disciple, you become a disciple, but then you learn how to be a disciple maker. And the group, again, very needed, in fact, in most churches, small groups are kind of the fishing pond for the huddles. And so it’s the next level. We talk about pathway all the time or disciple-making roadmap here at our church. And you really need to be in a life group before you’re ready to be in a huddle or a D group. And so they’re both needed, they’re both part of the process to make disciples, but totally different animals for sure.

– Okay, thanks Mark. And one of the things I look at, really in the great commission is we disciple unto salvation, we disciple unto obedience, and then we disciple unto disciple-making. Because Jesus said, and lo, I’ll be with you always. What was he? He was a disciple maker, and he’s called us to be disciple makers. And so it is that there’s kind of a handoff between the group and the huddle, and that the group is there to disciple unto salvation and disciple unto obedience in the sense that you began to practice the disciplines of a disciple, but then they become a handoff to a huddle, to where like one man takes three other men or four other men, one woman takes the other women, four other women. And they moved from obedience to the ultimate obedience of discipling other people unto salvation, discipling other people unto obedience, and continuing that multiplication that takes place. And so there is a real distinction in that. So let me just throw it out, Andy and Mark or Robert, any of the three of you may have a quick follow up you wanna make on that as well. But you don’t have to speak all at once. Go ahead, Andy.

– Yeah, I echo what Robert and what Mark have already said about this whole process. It’s very intentional. It doesn’t happen by accident. So you do have to have a strategy. Some trellis for the vine work needs to be there. So it’s unlike small group ministry, in the sense that it’s not all come and all call. It is intentionally targeting people who are candidates, who want to go deeper, who are exhibiting those characteristics of involvement and leadership and teachability and those kind of things. So that’s one of the keys to that. And it is exclusive. It’s not only intentional, but it is exclusive. So one of the things we’ve heard before, and I can’t agree with them more is, is if you as a pastor or a staff member or a leader in your church, if you’re not being accused of being exclusive and not including everybody in everything you’re doing every once in a while, then you’re probably not making disciples. There are gonna be a small group of people on a regular basis that you’re pouring your life in and you’re giving them more access to you than you are a general group.

– One thing that I would say that I’ve noticed in the last two years is that as we have discipled people in our church, and those people are discipling people in our church, but also outside our church. One of the things we’ve noticed is that there are some, how do you say, long tenured believers that do not want to be huddled. They do not want to be discipled. And so instead of smash your head against a wall, just continuing to try that kind of stuff, I’ve just decided that I’m gonna invite, which is that intentional part, and it’s invite new people. So new believers in the church or new believers period, to be in a intentional discipling huddle, because we have to remember that we don’t want to separate evangelism and discipleship. We want them to be together. And evangelism’s that first step of disciple-making. And so when you see new believers or new people come into your church, to be able to grab them right now, I have a huddle of five men, and one of those is somebody I’ve been discipling and mentoring for probably about 10 to 12 years. And they’ve just connected with our church and move locally with us, and it’s a joy to have him. But I know he’s, I mean, I could turn the group over to him, right? But the truth of the matter is, going through this to have him at that level, but also a new believer as an adult and then walking together, we’re able to be a discipling core. Like it’s just synergy and it’s just all coming together and discipling each other. And it’s such an exciting thing, because like Mark said, when it comes to the replication, it will be a lot easier for everybody to do that, because we’ve been walking together, and there’s super energy in new people.

– Yes.

– Just period.

– Thank you, Robert. And we’re gonna make a little bit of a transition, because now we’ve been talking about disciple-making. Hopefully we’ve made that a good distinction from a group strategy is that we’re going to that next step moving toward multiplication. But at the same time, we’ve talked about mentoring, and we’ve talked about serving. And obviously, you don’t need to be mentoring, and you don’t need to have people in certain levels of service that have not become disciples capable of making disciples. So there is a foundation. That’s why we kind of take them in the order of disciple making. Because if you find yourself lacking for a labor force, if you find yourself struggling in some other areas, it’s probably because you haven’t been making disciples. You’ve been designating servants or designating leadership, but you’ve not been discipling. And so Mark, take us a step further. Because you and I’ve had recent conversations about a couple that you are mentoring right now. And help us work with the idea of what is mentoring.

– Sure, so like we’ve already kind of defined loosely what disciple-making is, right, intentionally entering into someone’s life, helping them know and follow Jesus, and equipping them to do the same, to replicate the process. So mentoring is a little bit different. ‘Cause I think mentoring is more, a more targeted approach in the sense that it’s really about training and equipping. And it’s more specific. So to use the example, Daniel and I talked about the other day. There’ve been two guys that were in my first discipleship group when I came here to Fultondale First. And over time, God has called both of them to the ministry. And so they’ve been in a new group. They’ve led other D groups. But now, they’re preparing to become ministers. And I made a decision when I got here. I sat down with, Andy and I both, with Brian Croft for a podcast interview. And to hear his vision of not just training people up and keeping them in his church, but exporting them. I thought that is, what a blessing. That’s what we wanna be. We wanna be a sending agency. So I prayed, and I asked God, send us people who are going to be pastors and leaders and ministers and let us send them. And he’s done it. And so these two guys in that first D group came and they wanna be pastors. And so I have taken intentional time, one on one. I’m not spending time one on two with them, even though they were in my first D group. I’m spending one-on-one time with them, specifically training them how to preach, how to lead, how to think about the strategy of disciple-making in the church context. And so I’ve spent hours with these guys the last few months, specifically answering questions, training them, pouring into them. And so there is some similarity in those processes of discipleship, disciple-making, and mentoring. But it’s very different because it’s concentrated. And here’s what I mean. If, and Daniel, I talked about this. If I had so many that came to me and said, I need to learn about youth ministry, I mean, that’s awesome. I cannot mentor you in student ministry. I’ve never been a student pastor. I’m gonna send you to somebody I know. And I’ve done that before, scooter and others. I’ve sent people his way, saying these people need to be mentored and poured into, because mentoring is so important. And I think it’s something that I missed quite honestly. Andy talked about nobody would respond to him in discipling him. Nobody mentored me until much later in my ministry life. And so I understand how huge of a need that is in training up and equipping new leaders.

– Yeah, and I’ve had people mentor me for different aspects of ministry. Andrew Smith, who was my predecessor in the office of Sunday school was my mentor when it came to Sunday school. I was discipled long before, but he mentored me, and opened my eyes to so many different things. Some things you just kind of caught onto naturally. Some other things, if he hadn’t pointed it out, I would never have understood its importance, nor had the ability to communicate and replicate in those areas. And then serving on church to have, I relied on mentoring. Many of you could say, “Hey, I can help somebody teach adults.” Robert. I know, you could say, “I can help somebody teach students,” but most of us would have a deficiency, for example, when it comes to teaching preschool. And I always got prospective preschool leaders with a preschool teacher that could mentor them specifically. Otherwise, most of us pastors, with some of our terms that we use, we could confuse the hell out of a poor little preschooler sometimes with that. And so you’ve got to learn to understand how they think and what their needs are, why it is that they love repetition so much when we’re exhausted by it, those kinds of things. And so we really rely on mentoring with additional leaders in our churches. Robert, if you got maybe a follow-up word on that.

– I think the thing that you have to remember when mentoring is, it’s not a question of, like, okay, if I meet with you here, I’ll check this off my list, and you’ll be mentored. It is, to me, to me, mentoring in a way is even more in depth and procedural, maybe, than making disciples. Making disciples of the court, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all these things I’ve taught you to observe.” And so these things I’ve taught you, go teach them. Mentoring is, it could even be it, like you said, a specific skill, ability, those things. That’s one of the things that, again, I have had some privilege of being mentored by some incredible pastors, Buddy Champion, and just so many other guys like that that have discipled me. Yes, but they mentored me in ministry or in leadership or in whatever it was. And so I’ve been able to do the same, and we just sent out our youth pastor to be a lead pastor. And you know, that, certainly there’s discipling there, but there’s mentoring as well. And right now, we have somebody that’s been sent over here for that purpose from another place to, and eventually, who knows, we might be able to be a part of a church plan with this person in about two years, because they wanna start getting mentored to pastor right now. And so those are the things that, and to me, that’s the organic part of what Jesus did. So many times today, we try to fabricate and create something that’s just kind of manmade and made up. And the reality is, God goes before us, and so we stay in the steps of the Holy Spirit. And when God puts those people in our path, we better be ready to mentor and disciple them and challenge them to take the next step in their personal leadership.

– And I think multiplication is the common theme here. So we’re talking about a group strategy. You’re supposed to multiply groups. We’re talking about a disciple-making huddle. You’re supposed to multiply disciple makers. And mentoring, you’re multiplying yourself in leadership. And it’s just a different level. And so I think that’s the understanding. Great example, Robert talked about having new people in your huddle. So I’ve got a D group that I’m meeting with, started a couple months ago. Both of them are new believers. And so sometimes you have groups with no new believers. It’s always good when you have new believers. For the last two weeks, we’ve had people use swear words in our D group. They’re new believers, right. But if you’re mentoring somebody and that’s happening, there’s probably a question that should be asked at that point. So it’s just a different level of multiplication in each of these areas.

– Yeah, Andy, I’ve got to toss to you, because mentoring hits in both of your vocations. As a pastor, if you’re gonna have staff, you’ve got to mentor, but you’ve also spent time in your other vocation mentoring others to not necessarily do the work, but to build the business.

– Yeah.

– So share a word there.

– Yeah, God’s kind of put that desire in my heart not only to help pastors and church leaders, because that was kind of a void in my life, but also my vocation, my calling, the trade. It kind of lends itself to guys who are further down the road, tend to just, it’s part of the trade. You take in young guys and you help them. And I probably wasn’t as good as teaching them the technical aspects of the horseshoeing, but I was better equipped to talk to them about life, but also about business, about scheduling, and customer relations, and invoicing, and inventory, and all those kinds of things. So I would have guys and even groups of guys that I would meet with regularly doing that and helping them with the business aspect of that trade. And I’ve also seen where God’s kind of put that in ministry. Every church I’ve ever served in, there’s been somebody who’s called to ministry, called to missions. And obviously, there’s deacon ministry, and there’s other key leadership areas in your church. So that’s always been a big aspect of ministry for me that I’ve been intentional about. And I think this discipleship, the disciple-making, as part of your life, when it becomes a rhythm, that habit just turns into something. That’s just how you live life from that point on, once that becomes ingrained in your DNA. And I can say, you can do leadership development and mentoring without intentionally discipling people. You can send them to conferences and hand them books and introduce them to other people. But I can tell you this. If you are discipling people, then you are mentoring them, and you are doing leadership development. And out of, not only out of those small groups are you gonna intentionally invest in a smaller group of people to disciple, but when you’re discipling people, the cream’s gonna rise to the top and you’re gonna have leaders, and availability of leaders that you can begin to invest in and mentor then. Like in the church where I am, we don’t have a huge budget. We have a very small budget. So we have a lot of lay leaders to lead key areas in ministry. And some of them had no previous experience. So we had to come along beside them. We identified them in the discipleship process and begin to train them and equip them to lead areas specific to whatever we had needs or that they felt called.

– Yeah, well, y’all have made some important distinctions for me as I’ve been listening. I like when Mark said really when mentoring and multiplying myself, disciples, I mean, we have the ultimate obedient unto death, and Jesus to disciple people toward. But in mentoring, you have your gifts and abilities that God has given you and you’re translating those and pouring those into others. And then the distinction really all three of you have made is that where you can mentor without making disciples. If you’re making disciples, you will mentor sooner or later. ‘Cause each one of you kind of gave a testimony to somebody that you’ve been discipling, that here’s that call of God. And you began to mentor them in that specific area. Which then helps us transition to the idea of service. It’s kind of like, we’ve narrowed down, now we’re gonna broaden back out, because there’s a plethora of needs and service, but I make a distinction sometimes, there are some people that are, well, they just got saved last week. There are people, to be honest with you, that are not saved, that you can engage in service, that through service, they can ultimately see what the kingdom is like. And so service really kind of broadens out. But then there’s layers of service, like teaching a group, or being a disciple maker, that, well, let’s just be honest, if you haven’t been discipled, you don’t need to be serving. My pastor asked me one time, “How did you make all those teachers?” And I just simply said, “I’m not called to make teachers. I’m called to make disciples, from whom God calls teachers.” If call them as a preschool teacher, then I’ve got to hand them off in mentoring. But if he calls them in another area, I might become that mentor, but here’s the thing. Some of the struggles of our churches is that we have people in high levels of leadership that have never been disciples, that they’ve never gone through disciple-making. And frankly, they’re not disciples. And so I’m gonna pick on you again, Mark, to help us differentiate really, how is serving different from just being a disciple?

– Sure, and I think you made a good distinction there. We say you can belong before you become. So that means you can belong to our church and be on the team and serve before you become a follower of Jesus. That in certain cases, right, you can be a greeter before you understand what fully following Jesus is all about. And so I would say, you can certainly serve without being a disciple. You can definitely do that. But, you know, Ephesians 2:10, we are God’s masterpiece, right? God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared beforehand for us to do. So you can, while you can serve without being a disciple, there’s no way you can be a disciple without being a servant. You can’t do it. And so if you are being a disciple who’s making disciples, you will be serving. And I think it’s an important distinction, because we don’t want, there are certain, I wouldn’t call them curriculum, but programs, ministries, training, whatever out there that would teach, you just need to get people involved in serving. And that is your disciple-making process. You get them involved in serving, they’ll be disciples. So that’s not necessarily the case. They could be involved in even a small group, but not be a disciple. So I think you have to make that distinction. Yes, people need to serve. It’s part of being a follower of Christ. But, in certain aspects, just like you said, Daniel, of servant leadership, small group leaders, disciple makers, obviously, deacons, different levels of service, they need to be disciples before really they’re put into that role. I was reading in Timothy this morning, and it said, let people serve and test them before you entrust them as a deacon or as an elder or those kinds of leadership positions. And so we need to let people serve, but in certain cases, they need to be shown that they are worthy and a disciple before they’re trusted with that kind of leadership.

– Let me give a heads up to folks. You might wanna start entering questions in the Q and A right now, because we’re getting very close to wrapping. But what you said, Robert, after you came to Mount Hebron, now Crossroads, I remember one of our very first conversations, and you were looking at your group strategy and said, “We have no bench strength.” I wanna ask you. How has disciple-making impacted that, transitioned that?

– One big part of disciple-making is the aspect of the person that is making disciples. So let’s just say me and then whomever you’re talking about. So me and that person being discipled. There’s a key critical point to that to where it starts out, that I do and they watch, right? I do and they help. There’s a critical point where they do, and I help, okay? At that critical juncture, they begin taking leadership. They begin literally taking ownership of those, we call them irreducible minimums that Jesus gave us, okay? So those things, they began to own, to learn, and as they do that, whether you call it trickery or not, whatever it is, they begin to learn how to teach others. They begin to learn how to show others. Had one guy who’s your typical quiet, just he’s the gentle gian, he’s gonna, he’s got your back all day long, but don’t put me in front of people, that sort of stuff. Hey, listen, you can do it. I want you to sit on this panel. I want you to share. And before long, this guy’s literally just preaching up on the stage about what God has done in his life. And so what happens is, the more you entrust, this is so huge for us as Southern Baptist pastors. Because traditionally, Southern Baptist pastors, no offense to anyone, have been hirelings. Like we have been the ones that are hired to do all the stuff and all the job. And that has gotten us into this predicament. Because we’ve been the ones to do everything. Well, we have to go to Ephesians 4 to remember it is our job to encourage and equip the body of Christ to do the ministry of the gospel, not do all of it. And so we’re, it’s really such a bigger role for us to do this or retake those that don’t feel they’re worthy or all these things. And I think one of our questions, I don’t mean to jump ahead to it, but I think that’s kind of one of the questions, that it says, am I, I’m too humble, or I’m flawed. How can I make disciples? Well, listen, none of us can make disciples unless we are a disciple. None of us can make disciples unless God is changing our life and heart. And the only way for that to happen is for us to, just what Mark said, when he gave you the definition, is to intentionally enter into someone’s life. And you can’t just say, okay, now go lead. You have to have walked with them for a duration of time, and help them off the bench, if you will. And so I think that’s just a critical, critical element, doing life together.

– Okay, Andy, one quick word to follow up before we toss this to Ken. Do you have anything there?

– Yeah, I mean, what you’re doing when you are discipling and mentoring and developing leaders is you’re adding value to somebody’s life and what God’s called him to do. And I can make a sure promise to you that if you are doing that, adding value to somebody’s life and their relationship with Jesus, your church is gonna benefit. And you will personally benefit from that. Not only are you helping somebody else grow and giving them opportunity to serve, but it will stretch and grow you as a disciple and as a leader. And not only in your own church, but let me encourage pastors and church leaders, look for those guys in the churches around you, in the relationships and the networks that you have. There may be guys out there who need some encouragement and need some help in adding value into their life. And their ministry will not only help them and help their church, but it’ll help your church. It’ll help you. That’s a big win to go before your church and say, look, this person, we’re gonna highlight what God’s doing in and through the ministry and the area of service here at their church. Or the church down the road, look, God’s called us to partner with them or their leaders. And we’ve seen some great things happen. It will definitely be an opportunity for you to celebrate some things when you start discipling and mentoring and developing leaders and then equip, like Robert said in Ephesians 4, to do the work of the ministry.

– Yeah, I tell people, we as pastors get that jumble, we’re given to the church. Literally what it says, we’re given to the church to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, not to do the work of ministry for saints and think we’ve accomplished what God has purposed us to do. We’re called from the get go to be disciples that make disciples. And as pastors, teachers, we have that added layer of then equipping the others for service too. Well, Ken, let me throw it back to you for some Q and A time.

– I know Robert has kind of answered the question up here. Anything else on it, on how to deal with disciple makers who use the humble or flawed excuse, who am I, flawed person, to lead others? Anything else on that, if you guys wanna add?

– Sure, I saw that question, and that’s a great question. Because you’re gonna get that. I mean, every group you lead, every huddle you lead, there’s gonna be at least one, probably multiple people that try to say, I can’t, I’m too flawed, I’m not prepared, I’m not that kind of guy. And so what I would tell you is if, and this is, I really believe this, if you do it right, and if you really do life with them, then that won’t be an issue by the end of your group time. So here’s what I would tell you. They may start my huddle that way. But once they hear my story, and how God has used this flawed guy, and messed up, and just somebody who’s not worthy, that’s off the table. That question doesn’t come up anymore, because they realize, oh my gosh, okay, the guy leading us is, he’s had some skeletons in his closet. So if you do it right, and you share life with them, and you’re vulnerable, and you’re transparent, that goes away. I really-

– I’d like to add to that, also, assuring them that we’re not going to isolate you and put you out here on your own. We’re in this together. And what God’s called us to do is learn together, grow together, serve together. And you’re gonna give them opportunity to do that with some encouragement and accountability. It’s not like you’re just isolating them and leave them by their selves and kind of hanging them out to dry. You get to walk through that process with them. They’ve got somebody not just as a safety net, but they’ve got a prayer partner. They’ve got somebody holding their feet to the fire when they need it. And you’ve got somebody that’s a constant source of help and encouragement.

– Yeah, if you wait for circumstances to be perfect, you’ll never accomplish anything. Because you’ll always be waiting for something that will never, you’ll never arrive at it. So we’re all on the journey, amen.

– Yeah, I used a couple of scenes from scripture, like Mark, you gotta be open and transparent, and I tell people, I’m pretty sure even while we’re together, I’m gonna make some mistakes. And you’re gonna have questions I can’t answer without going and doing some deeper study. One picture is just simply when Jesus first issue that call, follow me. But in that day and time, that was opposite of the way things really happened. You went to a rabbi and you asked for permission to follow him. The rabbi then kind of tested you to see if you were worthy. Well, here’s the thing. No one was worthy to follow Jesus. You couldn’t qualify. Only he could qualify you. And with that in mind, think of in John 21, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, what does Peter do? He goes back fishing. And I think one of the reasons was, if anybody thought he was a flawed character unworthy to follow, it was the guy that denied him three times. And then to see him as the resurrected, ascended Lord and savior, he had to feel just eminently unqualified to carry this on. And yet the confrontation there that ultimately Jesus has with Peter about do you love me, but out of that, what does he say again? “Follow me.” And Peter even gets distracted again. He says, “Well, what about John?” And Jesus just kind of almost grabbed him by the face in my mind and said, “You follow me.” That’s it. Nobody else qualifies you. Jesus alone qualifies you. So when we start doing this humility thing, or I’m too flawed, remember, we’re asking people to imitate me as I imitate Christ. And he is flawless.

– Amen. I’d love to close this with a couple kind of real world type things that are going on, just from hearing something this morning, an email, and yesterday, talking to someone on the phone. Burnout, pastors, it’s very easy. All of us have been there at some point in time, at least on the edge of it. And I’ve, I was just doing in that email today about someone who’s a pastor that’s experiencing burnout, and among other resources that Mike and I were turning them to, I also turn them to Robert and getting in a huddle. And so that’s a great way if you know a guy that needs some encouragement and prayer, and getting back, going in ministry. And the retreat in the spring, I believe it is, Robert?

– Right, it’ll be March 7th through 10th this year.

– Okay, so if you want any more information on the retreat-

– I put the, I can’t even think, our website on the chat, and it’s on there, and yeah, that’s good.

– Okay. And then the other real world example, I was talking to a deacon yesterday, who’s, their church is without a pastor. And those are times when you’re kind of wondering. And they’re looking at, “Hey, we need hope again.” And I just said to him, I said, “Don’t look at the big picture. You can get overwhelmed by the big picture. You got to look for one or two guys that can just circle around and begin to pray together. And we can give you things that will just be really easy to help you navigate a huddle with them.” Just things like that, that we look so big, and look at all the starfish that had washed up, and just start one at a time. And I think that’s so much of what a part of what you guys have shared today, that again, give people hope. As George says, there’s a number of series of bad decisions that get a church in one place. It’s a series of one good decision after another that brings them back to health and wholeness.

– Yes, good.

– So again, this is process. This is a Jesus process. And I think one of the good things that we need to get in our minds is there to be no gaps in the church process of bringing people along. You’re not gonna take someone who is at the plate about to bat to home plate in one step. It’s step by step by step, and filling in those gaps. Someone who’s at their home that’s never been to church, they’re not gonna be preaching next Sunday. They’re not gonna be teaching next Sunday. There are processes involved that you have to see in order to get that person who’s lost and on the couch, to knowing and loving the Lord and going on from there. And disciple huddles are definitely a key part of that process. Any other word before-

– Just a quick word. One, Kevin Blackwell. We can all affirm when he just put. But there’s three little dots down there in your chat. Some of these web references that have appeared, if you hadn’t been able to jot them down or you wanna make sure you get them, you can hit, go to that three little dots, and it will record that stuff in the chat room, so you can go back and see it in your notes. But other than that, thanks, Ken, for letting us come on today. Andy?

– Can I just say one last thing real quick. Everything we’ve talked about today, some people may be thinking this is pre-COVID we’re talking about. But listen, this is right in the middle of what we’re talking about, this is happening. People are still being discipled and mentored and serving in the midst of a pandemic. So there, the principle behind what we’re talking about today, it supersedes anything. All circumstances and situations, and it’s possible to be faithful to the great commission, even in a pandemic and what we’re talking about doing. So you may have to be creative. You may have to do things differently than you’ve done. But it’s totally possible and worthwhile to invest in people this way, no matter what’s happening, and it’s doable.

– Well, it is, this is real world church. This is the biblical approach. And if it is, then that’s what we have to get in on. And that’s where the blessing comes in is doing it the way God has intended it to be done. Thank you guys for being here today, appreciate it. Daniel, Mark, Andy, Robert, our Office of Leader Care guys in the background, George and Mike. Thank you so much, George, excuse me, Doug always is there in the background as well. So we’re grateful for his tech ability with us as well. And so again, this is all a part of the connect process. We’ll continue that journey, the process of connect and leading churches to be healthy in January. January the 12th, we’ll be looking again, connecting with the commission, great commission. And we’ll look specifically at reaching out to the community as a whole and community ministries. And then we’ll follow that up later in the month with more of an individual soul-winning part of that with Daniel Wilson. There could be some others on both of those, but those are the ones we know of at this point. Again, thank you, guys.

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