I couldn’t miss the clutter of books and videos when I walked into Jeff’s office. His office was taken over by this stack of resources. What were they about?
The piles of books and videos were about discipleship. Jeff was searching for the Holy Grail of disciplemaking — the perfect program that guaranteed results. Unfortunately, the abundance of choices created confusion. Shouldn’t disciplemaking be simpler than amassing a library of choices? Let’s not complicate things!
When it comes to making disciples, we’ve missed the wisdom of Leonard da Vinci, who is quoted as saying, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
What if there was an approach to disciplemaking that did not require an expensive curriculum, a paid professional, or a state-of-the-art website? What if there was a way to make disciples that was simple enough for everyone to practice? What if there was a process integrated to life, even life in our busy, multitasking world?
Disciplemaking can be as simple as inviting people to walk with me as I walk with Jesus. This means practicing a disciplemaking lifestyle that is a walk between friends. When we think of disciplemaking as a walk between friends, the Great Commission is taken out of the hands of the ministry professionals or the select spiritual few and placed in the lives of everyday believers. Disciplemaking starts when we intentionally invite people to walk with us.
When we invite people to walk with us as we walk with Jesus, we’re inviting them into a heart-to-heart relationship, done simply and slowly with the Holy Spirit’s help, which takes us and others to a greater depth in Christ, and sends us on mission for Christ.
Why use the analogy of walking? I regularly walk for exercise. Before they shut down the gyms, I walked four-five times a week at my local rec center. I discovered that I have two types of walking. My style of walking at the gym is fast. I want to get as much of a cardio workout as possible. This type of walking is not about talking or relating but an intense focus on speed.
The other type of walking is when I walk with Peggy and our dog Ginger. This walking is slow and all about our relationship. Peggy and I have some of our best conversations walking. We catch up on the day, we talk about what’s happening in our lives, we discuss our grandchildren, and we look at our neighbors’ homes. Walking builds our relationship. It’s not real complicated to get to know someone while walking.
The Bible frequently uses the word “walk” to describe our relationship with God. For example, Genesis 6:9 says that “Noah walked with God.” Author and pastor Eugene Peterson writes that this verb “walk” communicates a life with God that is a “lifelong companionship, a conversational friendship with God.” I think the image of walking with friends is a wonderful picture for disciplemaking.
Theologian Daniel Estes gives further insight on walking. He notes that the word “walk” is used five times in Ephesians. Paul exhorted the Ephesians to “Live [literally, “walk”] as children of light.” Walking means “living in” the way of Jesus. When we invite people to walk with us as we walk with Jesus, we invite them into a journey with Jesus, a life lived with Him to be like Him. But there’s a challenge.
We think spiritual perfection is required before we can invite others to walk with us. Here’s some good news: Our Lord doesn’t demand perfection, but He does expect practice and progress. Paul exhorts the young leader Timothy to “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15 ESV emphasis added). This exhortation is not only for leaders, it’s for us as well.
“Practicing” the faith does not mean achieving spiritual perfection but putting into action what we know. With practice comes “progression.” We experience spiritual transformation, seeing our lives change “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV).
Now, none of us have walked the entire road of the Christian life. We have “practiced” the faith up to a certain mile marker, but there is still more road to travel. We can’t invite people to a road we haven’t experienced, but we can invite them to journey as far as we’ve come. This is good news because everyone who is practicing and progressing can invite people to walk with them.
Disciplemaking does not mean that I’m spiritually superior or that I have all the answers. We’re inviting people to walk with us as far as we’ve come. We don’t want to become what one author calls “unpersuasive travel agents handing out brochures to places we have never visited.” What happens when our walk requires taking someone to a mile marker beyond where we are? This is when the body of Christ comes into play.
Too often, we think the Christian life is like a singles match, but in reality it’s a team sport. We don’t have to walk alone with people, we have the resources of a local church, ministry, or fellowship available to us. In our network of friends, we have people who have walked beyond our mile markers. Let’s invite them into this walk.
We must not complicate things. We don’t need more curriculum, more staff, or more buildings for disciplemaking. We can start by inviting people to walk with us as we walk with Jesus. When we invite people to walk with us in the way of Jesus, we’re inviting them into a heart-to-heart relationship done slowly with the Holy Spirit’s help, which takes us and others to a greater depth in Christ, and releases us to live on mission for Christ. Let’s start walking!
Want to learn more about how disciplemaking is an invitation to walking? What are some practical ways to practice walking with others? Join us for our webinar on Thursday, March 18 from 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST. You can register at http://www.navigatorschurchministries.org/.
Bill Mowry, the author of the newly published book Walk with Me: Simple Principles for Everyday Disciplemaking by Moody Publishers will be interviewed on how to disciple people in ways that are heart-to-heart, simple, slow, deep, and missional. Don’t miss this practical and helpful session.
Doug Nuenke, President of The Navigators says this about Walk with Me:
No other topic reflects more fully the life and purposes of Jesus than His focus on helping everyday people walk with God and reflect His character. Bill makes disciplemaking doable for all of us, people in busy lives and in a culture that tries to pull us away from meaning and relationships.
Walk with Me: Simple Principles for Everyday Disciplemaking on Moody Publishing was released on March 3, 2021. You can order it at moodypublishers.com or wherever books are sold.
About the Author
How do we include others those who’ve never experienced life-changing ministry? How do we become a church that matures as believers partner in prayer and accountability?
Fifty years of experience has taught me that failures lead to wisdom. So, I want to let you in on five disciplemaking missteps and failures I’ve made and what I’ve learned from them.
How Long Does It Take to Make a Disciple? It