We are often asked to give specific illustrations of the ‘how’ of the discipleship journey. If you have read As You Go…Make Disciples or Making Disciples in the 21st Century, you will know that we have outlined some historical factors you should be aware of. However every journey will be different because people are different and the Holy Spirit draws people differently.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t introduce some specific discipling stories but it is important to remember, when you are reading these stories, that the journey from a seeker to a fully fledged disciple of Jesus takes time. This journey is often more of a gradual awakening rather than an instant event because it unfolds as we walk beside others, in intentional relationship, as we go about our normal daily activities.
From Resistance To Belonging
Liz is a fit, active disciple of Jesus, who is also involved on a Church Planting Leadership Team. She is part of a Running Group and here she encountered Jenny, a middle-aged Mum with three children. Liz is very outgoing about her relationship with Jesus but encountered a strong resistance, even antagonism, from Jenny in relation to all things Christian. Being in a country provincial centre, they also encountered one another in other settings – the local gym and a Business Group in town.
When Liz felt her friend’s resistance to the gospel, she backed right off and began to simply enjoy socializing with her via family barbeques and listening to her, engaging with her concerns and needs. She stopped shutting Jenny down by following her Christian agenda and instead tapped into her friend’s agenda. Gradually she introduced her to Christian friends and together they showed her love and consideration.
As time has passed, Jenny has softened more and more to the Spirit of God as He draws her through His people. After significant surgery, the church women reached out to her, providing meals for the family. When she opened the door to discover friends bearing meals, she welcomed them with tears and has since returned the favour when others have been in need of help.
As Jenny moves closer to Jesus, her marriage is improving and she is encountering genuine love and care through her Christian friends. Her softening heart towards God is very evident. The church families have connected with her but she has not yet linked herself with a local church in any kind of organized way.
She is being wooed in a manner or process that David Wraight in his book, The Next Wave: Empowering the Generation that will Change the World, calls ‘Blessing, Belonging, Believing, Becoming’. In the 20th Century we called people to understanding and ‘Believing’ first, followed by teaching them how to ‘Behave’ and then bringing them into an environment of ‘Belonging’. David says postmoderns often seek belonging first, and then begin to respond to the Spirit in behavioural change (not so much the do’s and don’t’s but relationally based change). Within this process a point of genuine commitment to following Jesus takes place.
One word of caution here. As true disciples of Jesus, we display His glory through our love for others. We can’t help it! But we need to learn to regularly point the other person to Jesus to discover His solutions, His strength and His love and power. We want emerging disciples to depend on Him.
‘As You Go…Make Disciples’. This book has revolutionised the way I approach discipleship. Colin Noyes has discipled me in ‘making disciples’. The result – I am pleased to be able to say I have been more effective in making disciples in the few years since than all the previous years combined. And it doesn’t end there. I have been able to pass this on to other disciples to do the same. My greatest encouragement for you is to read it, learn from it, practice it, and reproduce it in others. IT WORKS, and The Harvest awaits.
GARY HOURIGAN – INC National Coordinator: Church Health, Church Growth and Church Planting
This book by Colin and Judith Noyes is an essential resource. They have distilled years of experience, conversations, training sessions, research and reflection. As the third in a wonderful series, it provides an insightful wrap on earlier ideas….This book must not be read and set aside. You will need to “camp out” with it and allow its insights to shape the way you look at your world. I am hoping that you will invite a few of your fellow believers to read it together,then talk and pray together about the issues covered. I am sure it will change the way you think about disciple-making..
Brian Medway – National Chairman, Crosslink Christian Network, Australia.