Kitchen Table Disciple Making

Jared Horton - Lead Pastor | Real Life Ministries Newport, Newport, WA

21 years ago, my wife and I experienced the loss of a child. It was brutal. We had been married for only around 4 years and neither of us had ever navigated significant loss, let alone something of this magnitude. I questioned God. I questioned myself. I questioned my faith. I felt that all I had were questions, and no answers. I knew I needed to reach out for help, but I did not know how. My first call was to my dad. I called him because I knew he would listen. He came to our house with an armload of groceries, and we sat at the kitchen table, and I shared my heart. I discovered that the most fulfilling answers to my questions were not words, rather, they were in the time my dad spent with me listening and living out Jesus in front of me.

Since that time, my kitchen table has become one of the greatest ministry tools I possess as I seek to disciple others. It is around my kitchen table that my family and I share meals, laugh, and discuss life. It is at my kitchen table that friends come to play a game or enjoy a strong cup of coffee. It is also at my kitchen table that brokenhearted people shed tears and open their hearts to the pains that life has dealt them. My table does not have discipleship ingrained in its construction. Rather, it is the skill of listening that my dad modeled at my table that I have tried to develop in myself as I make disciples.

The discipleship skill of listening does not come naturally to me. I often fall into the “teaching trap” where I fill their brains with Bible verses, discipleship concepts and metaphors for life. When I go into “teach mode,” I often miss what the Holy Spirit is doing in their heart. Jesus said, “…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45). When I intentionally listen, a heart is revealed, and that heart is where Jesus desires to do His work.

The following are four truths I have learned about listening in my discipling relationships:

 

God is always at work

Everyone is broken. It is this brokenness, sin, and fear that everyone hides in their heart that God wants to conform to His will. The Holy Spirit is at work in every broken heart convicting sin, growing faith in fear, or bringing to light the true motives of the heart that must conform to Him. God is always at work.

 

Listening builds relationship

We can rarely see God’s work in a disciple’s heart at a superficial level. It takes trust, vulnerability, and time as we listen for them to let their guard down and share the depths of their brokenness. But it is in those depths that God is at work. I must step into relationship knowing that God is at work under the surface. I must build trust and listen to what He is doing in each person.


Listening reveals life

When they open their heart, discipleship can truly happen. Discipleship is not about a process. It follows a process. Discipleship is about life. Hard life. Real life. The brokenness, hurt and sin that are revealed when we listen is exactly what Jesus wants to address in their lives.


Listening keeps me in my lane

When I hear a disciple reveal what Jesus is doing in their heart, it is a humbling experience. This is Jesus’ work within them, not mine. My teaching, lessons, or metaphors did not change their heart. Jesus did. I must understand that this person is a disciple of Jesus Christ, and it is now my role to point them to Jesus and walk with them to Him.

I grew closer to Jesus through the silent listening of my dad at my kitchen table. Because of that lesson, I learned an important but silent piece of discipleship: listening. Disciples and disciple-makers will both grow in relationship with each other and maturity in Christ when we learn to listen to Jesus through the broken heart of His disciples.


by

Jared Horton
Lead Pastor
Real Life Ministries Newport
Newport, WA

RDN Team Member
We’re Stronger Together!