In order to create a disciple making culture, it is of supreme importance to identify, equip, and release disciple-making leaders. Each milestone in that disciple-making triad is built on the other. You cannot release a disciple that you have not properly equipped and therefore, you cannot equip a disciple that you have not identified/recruited/engaged in relationship. So how do you identify these future disciple-making leaders that are attending your worship services, walking the halls of your church, and living in your community?
I hesitate to state the obvious, but there is a reason that abiding in our person relationship with Jesus Christ is our first ministry essential. I’ll never forget the simple yet profound principles in Henry Blackaby’s book, Experiencing God. God is always at work around us. He is working in the hearts and minds of the men and women in our churches. God also invites us to become involved with Him in His work. So as we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, He will no doubt create divine appointments for us to interact with these individuals and disciple them. Therefore, we should continually pray for God to reveal specific individuals that we are to engage in disciple making.
I remember my first encounter with Daniel Owen. It was over a decade ago in one of our Sunday night worship services. I had not seen him in that worship environment before, so I approached him and his wife and introduced myself. It turned out that Daniel and Julia were also attending a Financial Peace University class. I left our conversation knowing that God was at work in Daniel’s life and if the Lord allowed me the privilege, I was going to partner with Him in His work.
Within a few days, I had contacted Daniel and set up a lunch appointment. Over some po’ boy sandwiches at a now defunct fast food restaurant, I shared my spiritual journey with Daniel, and invited Daniel to share his. There was a hunger that God was placing in his heart, a desire to grow as a disciple of Jesus. Our lunch meetings became a regular occurrence, and when I started my first men’s small group, Daniel was a faithful participant. I had the privilege of a front row seat watching Daniel grow in spiritual maturity. He seemed always available to help and assist me with men’s ministry projects or serve in children’s ministry. I watched him grow as a disciple maker and be intentional about having gospel-centered conversations with his lost co-workers. And before too long, Daniel was a disciple maker, a co-laborer with me in ministry, encouraging me in my faith, serving as a genuine source of friendship and wisdom.
I jokingly refer to what happened with DanieI and myself as a “Disciple Making Dance”. I was leading the dance and asking Daniel to follow my lead. At any time, Daniel could have left the dance floor. He could have walked away from the disciple making relationship. I’m sure you have had the experiences where you felt like you were doing “your part” but the person you were seeking to disciple no longer wanted to pursue spiritual maturity. Two other attributes I look for in potential disciple makers are teachable and humble. On more than one occasion, I have identified a faithful, available, and intentional leader only to discover later that they were only faithful, available, and intentional about their own personal agenda and not the Great Commission.
Years later in 2009, while on a mission trip together in London, Daniel and Julia shared with me that they felt God’s call to live as missionaries. Over the years, their missionary journey has taken them to Mississippi, Texas, Bangladesh, and now to New York City where they seek to engage the Bengali people with the gospel of Jesus Christ and disciple them towards spiritual maturity.
Daniel and Julia’s story always reminds me to keep my heart attune to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and keep my head on a swivel. I want to be ready to see where God is at work in the lives of others, and relationally engage in those divine appointments and conversations. When Jesus gave us the Great Commission, it was a command that must be fulfilled with intentionality. Go… Make Disciples… Baptize… Teach to obey… These things don’t happen by accident. When God puts someone on your radar, don’t be afraid to be intentional and start the conversation.
Connections and Next Steps
Relational Discipleship Network