The Transformative Power of Gathering: Insights from the National Disciple Making Forum

Are you the kind of person, like me, who makes a list, checks the boxes, and thinks you’re ready? When I look back over my life, much of it has been defined by that very core belief that I, as a naturally Type A person, have it all under control. What that has prepared me for is, well, any circle that values checking boxes. What checking boxes hasn’t prepared me for is all of the situations in which the Holy Spirit might be waiting to teach me, once again, that doing anything in my own strength is going to leave me at best pleasantly surprised and at worst distracted from the more important work.  

The last two years, I’ve been able to represent Navigators Church Ministries at the National Disciple Making Forum. The first year I traveled there with the team, I was still really new to the organization. I had known some Navigators in the past through churches I’d attended and I’d done all the reading I was supposed to do to learn about the organization. All the right boxes were checked and I felt I had the information I needed.

Ready to Share, Learning from Others

So my first time at the National Disciple Making Forum, I felt ready to share all of the things that made Navigators Church Ministries what it is: disciplemakers who partner with pastors to build disciplemaking cultures within their churches. 

But what I ended up doing was listening to story after story from people who had worked with The Navigators in some capacity over the years. They taught me more than any other resource ever could.

People would stop by our booth and eagerly share their stories of how a Navigator had lead them to Christ in college, how a mentor had shared The 2:7 Series with them in early adulthood. Then they in turn shared again and again with other new believers. A Navigator had discipled them so they could then disciple someone else, and now there are generations of disciplemakers behind and ahead of them. 

This is the kind of thing you can read and know, but it’s hard to truly believe and understand until you see it in practice. This is why gathering—whether it’s a small gathering like a house church or a large gathering like the National Disciple Making Forum—is essential to the Christian life. When we are vulnerable enough to connect with others, we see the Story come alive in the lives of people around us. 

In the Book of Hebrews, we certainly see Paul’s heart for bringing people together:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25).

What else does the Bible have to say about the importance of gathering together?

Matthew 18:20 teaches that Christ is present wherever believers gather in His name. This verse underscores the spiritual power and significance of communal worship and fellowship among believers.

Acts 2:42 describes the early Christian community’s devotion to gathering together for teaching, fellowship, breaking bread (communion), and prayer. This verse emphasizes the foundational practices of the early church, including the importance of communal worship and learning.

1 Corinthians 14:26 highlights the diverse spiritual gifts and contributions of believers when they come together. It emphasizes the edification of the Church through shared worship and instruction within the community.

Colossians 3:16 encourages believers to let the message of Christ dwell among them, teaching and admonishing one another through word and song. This verse underscores the role of communal worship in deepening believers’ understanding of Christ and strengthening their faith.

Ephesians 4:11-13 speaks of Christ’s gifts to the Church, including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, who equip believers for works of service and promote unity and maturity within the body of Christ. This passage highlights the communal nature of spiritual growth and the importance of gathering together for mutual edification and maturity in faith.

I walked into the National Disciple Making Forum thinking I would tell people what we had to offer them, but I walked out having experienced everything that gathering makes possible. 

The People Prescription

If you’re the kind of person, like me, who (mistakenly) believes you can do it all if you simply make the list and check the boxes, then you need what I’ll call the People Prescription. Being with people, and especially hearing their stories, will remind you again and again of how God doesn’t just work in us, or through us, but also among us, as well as the answer to what, why, how, and who is the Holy Spirit. 

The National Disciple Making Forum is an opportunity to experience that gift, and Navigators Church Ministries would love to help you get there. Join us in Indianapolis as we gather with 1,300 other disciplemaking leaders and practitioners to learn, share insights, and connect in person. For two days on May 1-2, 2024, participate in disciplemaking tracks, consisting of hyper-focused teaching, panels, and live Q&A sessions that will fuel your disciplemaking efforts in 2024 and beyond! Our track is called Growing iNtentional Disciplemaking Cultures, which you can choose as your track at registration. As a sponsor, we also have a special discount code to share. Use “ncm” to lock in the super early bird ticket price of $129.

So put it on your list to register, check off the box, and then come find our booth. I want to hear your story. 

P.S. If you’re looking for a space to connect before National Disciple Making Forum, we have a webinar coming up next week on Thursday, April 25th, from 2-3:15 PM EST. In this webinar, long-time Navigators Church Ministries Staff Donnie Hoover is going to share proven strategies from the New York Times best-selling book Change the Culture, Change the Game and explain how those strategies apply to the local church. Together, we’ll unlock the secrets to leveraging the church’s biggest asset: People. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for the Re-Shaping Church Culture Webinar now.

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