Healthy Discipleship Requires Raising Up Disciplers

We need to raise up disciple-makers… This is not simply the task of your pastor… we are ALL called to be disciple-makers, because disciples of Jesus Christ cannot be mass produced. 

Programs do not make disciples, people make disciples.

Good blog post.

Your Attendance Is Not The Point

“If all you do is show up each week at Bible study and then end the session basically the same way you came, I would call that a major fail.” writes Susie Walther (my mentor) regarding her philosophy on women’s Bible study ministries.
       She goes on to say:
      “It usually takes being at The Well (the ministry she leads in Tampa) a year before it really dawns on you that we’re a little different from a lot of women’s ministries. Often, women aren’t even 100% sure what it is that makes us different. Some may think it’s the hugs they get when they come through the doors. Others feel it’s because we are “more friendly” or less “cliquish” than other women’s groups.
     For some, the difference is our weekly devotions, especially when they realize we intentionally pass the microphone to the women sitting in the room who maybe are not polished public speakers or mature Christians yet. Still others believe the magic is in the way we approach our Bible studies, making them discussion oriented and not video driven, causing you to think, do your homework, and be able to articulate what you are learning.
      Indeed, all those and even other elements make The Well all that it is.  However, you need to know that what really makes us different is this – we’re not willing to be satisfied that you decided to come through the door and grace us with your presence.  We’re not overjoyed because you might decide to volunteer to bring a snack, give a devotional, or greet ladies at the door.
     So many women’s ministries and Bible studies would deem themselves successful if “x” number of women “attend” their group or volunteer to keep their program going. BUT NOT US.
      You know why? Because The Well isn’t about building The Well. The Well is about being a conduit or vehicle for building and advancing God’s Kingdom in the lives of women. Matter of fact, if all you do is show up each week and then end the session basically the same way you came, I would call that a major fail.
      Your attendance is not the point – your discipleship is.
     Ministry and Kingdom success equals you experiencing God in such a way through Jesus Christ and the transformative power of His Word, prayer, fellowship and His Spirit that you leave out those doors each week and live like a Jesus-following, God-honoring, Bible-believing, Spirit-filled child of God who knows how to engage people and do ministry in your home, in your church and in the world without a church program or leader directing you.
      You learn to live like that and it’ll be a win-win-win-win: for Jesus, for the Kingdom of God, for you, and even for The Well.”   

Let Go. Die Quickly.

I tuned in to an old play list while running yesterday and the song “Let Go” by Barlow Girl popped up.

“Yeah I trust in You, I remember times You led me, This time it’s bigger now, And I’m afraid You’ll let me down, But how can I be certain?  Will You prove Yourself again?

[Chorus:]  ‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go, When I let go

What is this doubt in me , Convincing me to fear the unknown, When all along You’ve shown, Your plans are better than my own, And I know I won’t make it, If I do this all alone…”

Ladies, why is it so stinking hard for us to trust God?  Every time I am left to my own devices I make a big mess of things… my historical track record is not so awesome.  But all along God has shown that His plans are better than my own!  His track record is fantastic!

So I was thinking about you – my friends – and I wanted to encourage you to LET GO, to SURRENDER.  Stop hanging on and trying to exercise some imaginary control over everything… your kids, your husband, your health, your life…

And I was thinking about myself – as I am embarking on a new ministry.  I remember well sitting in a leadership workshop with Chris Adams (of Lifeway) and she made three BIG points:

(1) Seek God Early.  Early in the day.  Early in all your ministry plans.

(2) Die Quickly.  Let go of your own plans, goals, and control.  Surrender to God’s purpose and control in your ministry.  Christ calls us to die.  Keep on dying to yourself and your plans.  A mark of maturity is your peace and confidence in God’s control.

(3) Obey Continually.  Keep on doing it until you are given other instructions.  Do not grow weary of doing good.  You will reap a harvest if you obey and do not give up.

Let Go, ladies.  Let God.  Let’s work on dying quickly, so He doesn’t have to come and wrestle control from us… : )

Charleston Road Trip!

Fifteen years ago I moved to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky and landed in a Navigators women’s Bible study. The teacher, Susie Walther, asked me out for coffee. Then she asked about my quiet times and my spiritual life. I thought she was weird at first – no one had ever asked me about my relationship with God like that! I was intrigued, and hungry for growth. She pursued a discipleship relationship with me and invested two years of her life in establishing my faith and equipping me to serve.  All around me women were doing the same – meeting one-on-one and investing in the spiritual growth of other women. Today some ridiculously high percentage (maybe 80 percent?) of women from that group are in full time ministry, making disciples across the country.

This weekend we are gathering in Charleston, SC at the “To Train Up A Woman” Southeastern Navigators Women’s Conference. Several of us are speaking about our experiences with discipleship…  I’m really looking forward to the learning and encouragement that come when women who share a vision and a commitment to laboring in the Kingdom get together!

We’re Meant to Do Life Together

“We aren’t wired to do life alone, ladies.2013-06-05 08.12.16 (2)

Matter-of-fact, as hard and relentless as life can be, it’s actually easier when we do life together.

That’s one reason the theme of fellowship and accountability is so strongly evidenced throughout the Bible. God told Adam, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” Solomon said, “Two are better than one.” Jesus called men to “be with him,” and sent people out to do ministry in pairs. Jesus even prayed for all His disciples to be “one” with each other. The writers of the Epistles warn us not to “forsake our fellowship” because it “spurs us on to love and good deeds,” and protects us from the “deceitfulness of sin.” We’re told to “encourage, warn, and exhort one another” while also helping to “carry each other’s burdens.”

YET most Christians don’t experience this type of intimate interaction with other Christians, and the fault is almost always their own.

Sometimes they live independent, isolated lives because they don’t understand the value of fellowship and accountability and foolishly think they don’t need it. Others sense there’s value in being closely linked with others who are in Christ, but they don’t risk initiating relationship or make time to cultivate true fellowship, and therefore, any loneliness they feel is self-induced. Still others walk alone because they’ve been burned by Christians and don’t want to get too close again.

However, none of that changes the fact that you need meaningful fellowship and challenging interaction with other Christ followers who’ll encourage your discipleship and pursuit of Jesus.

So, during the summer break I hope you’ll take a risk. Risk asking someone to coffee or lunch to get to know them better or risk saying “yes” to someone who wants to get to know you because in Christ we really are meant to do life together.”

*Guest blog by Susie Walther,


Quiet Times #4 – Organizing Your Prayer Book

Monday I sat down and helped two friends organize their prayer journals. Here’s how it went:

Identifying Groups of People
On a piece of scrap paper, write down all the groups of people that you want to pray regularly for. The list might include: immediate family (self, husband, kids), work or husband’s work, extended family, church, small group, Bible study group, friends, nonChristians/outreach/neighbors, sports teams, kid’s teachers and friends, missionaries, etc. Your list might be different. Think of them as circles of influence. Who are you willing to commit to praying regularly for?

Now, how many days a week are you committed to having prayer time? In our group, we committed to five days a week.

Next, try to group your circles of influence together, for the number of days you plan to pray regularly. In my case it looks like this:

Mondays – Husband’s work & Extended family
Tuesdays – Bible study group, Book club group, Women I disciple
Wednesdays – Church general/ leadership and ministry, Small group, & Missionaries
Thursdays – My friends, My kids’ friends & school, Tennis team, Other nonChristians
Fridays – My immediate family, including myself.

Next we divided the journal into sections of roughly equal length, put tabs on the side for each day, and wrote “Friday – Our Family” or whatever.

There’s also the Emergency 911 page. In the front of my prayer journal I keep an Urgent Prayers page. I don’t write on the page – I use sticky notes. If it’s urgent, I hope it’s not permanent, and in a few days, when the Prayer911note is full, I can either quit praying about it (ie. Algebra test), or move it to a more permanent section of the journal.

So on a Friday morning, I sit down with my coffee and I cover the Urgent 911 prayers. Then I flip to the Friday section and pray through the list for my family. I date the request on the left, keep the request to one liner, and write a date on the right side of the page when the issue is resolved. Later, when the journal gets fuller, I will probably start at the back of the section and work my way forward, praying for everything that has not yet been answered.

I also encourage writing verses in your prayer book, claiming them (and highlighting them!). I also tape prayers, photocopied bits, and good quotes inside.

What a priceless treasure it is to hold a prayer journal that is several years old…  I can see instantly how God has been so incredibly faithful, time after time. Praise Him!

Quiet Times #3 – Why We Journal

So now you’ve picked your quiet time spot – mine is a black and white chair in the bedroom – set yourQTBasket alarm for earlier, and started reading your Bible every morning.  In the basket next to my chair I keep my Bible, pens, colored pencils (don’t bleed through the pages), sticky notes (reminders for later), and my journal.

Why do we journal?  Isn’t that a habit you left behind in 4th grade?

We journal for at least three reasons:

(1) Self discipline.  Every day you read, every day you write. Just pen a couple of lines about what you read.  Don’t write a novel, you’ll never finish your quiet time.  You might note the chapter number and what topics or stories were in the that chapter.  If you’re pursuing a question like “How does this passage reveal the character of God?” then you might jot a few notes about that.  If a verse jumps out at you, write it out.  If there’s something you don’t understand, note the verse number and put a big question mark.  (Then when you have time later ask someone else what that verse meant, or go look it up in a commentary.)

(2) Reflection and Release.  One day recently I sat down for my quiet time but, honestly, I was too mad to think about reading Ecclesiastes.  So I made a list in my journal instead titled “Why I am So Grumpy Today”.  It’s kind of funny when I look back at it two weeks later, but it was a useful exercise.  By making the list I got a lot of the angst off my chest.  I also was able to reflect on how significant (or insignificant!) some of my issues were.  I gained perspective.  I turned that list into my prayer – and I told God that I wasn’t going to carry all those rocks around with me all day!  I think I made some progress.

(3) To See Patterns and Progress.  Since January I have read Luke, 1 & 2 Samuel, and Ecclesiastes.  All my notes are in my journal.  My sermon notes are there too (taking notes helps me pay attention in church… fight the ADHD tendencies!).  I am learning things and I can look back and see it.  That’s really encouraging.

Also, did you ever notice that when God wants to address an issue with you it crops up everywhere?!  Whatever topic is on His mind – and He wants me to pay attention to – keeps reappearing in my quiet time reading, in sermon series, in articles I read online, and in other books I’m reading.  God is amazing at choreographing life input so that I will get the message!  You can see this pattern if you are journaling.

Try journaling!  It’s an excellent discipline and will contribute to your spiritual growth, if you’re willing.