Join God in His Work

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19, ESV)

This is not a new idea, but it may need a new application. Making disciples is a lifelong pursuit for me and for many of us who work in vocational ministry. I often find myself in conversations about disciple-making and how we can accomplish the mission of “reaching the world for Jesus, one person at a time.” I love these talks and I love the passion with which men and women attack this topic. It is a joy for me to see people everywhere wholeheartedly sold out to God’s Kingdom, His work, and His results.

There is a nuance to this conversation that is indeed subtle on the surface, but profound in execution; I would like to offer it here and hopefully empower each of us in helping others become everything God intended them to be. It is not flashy, but it will change everything about how we develop and lead disciples to make disciples.

“What is your process?” I get this question at least twice a week, and usually much more. How do we make disciples? How do we program for maximum disciple-making effectiveness? How should we staff for disciple-making? How should we budget for disciple-making? What should we teach in our small groups or classes — or sermons? These are all good questions, and they are helpful. Wrestling with these topics will help a church become better at facilitating disciples who are making disciples.

But therein lies the rub. While we have set the church up structurally to succeed, we haven’t necessarily given the proper tools and attitudes for a person to be able to succeed at making disciples.

So what about our “SCMD” process? It is also helpful. It helps me understand how people mature and develop. It gives me a way to answer three very fundamental questions about disciple-making: where are they, what do they need, and where can they go to get it?

But there is something below the surface here that doesn’t get enough attention. In the moment of the conversation — the real arena of making disciples — am I aware enough of what God is doing to be able to respond to His leading? I told you, it isn’t flashy. But this may very well be the single most important part of making disciples. Without the presence of God in the conversation, no process will work. And if I am dialed in to the Holy Spirit’s work in the moment, perhaps any process we use can be effective. I wonder if sometimes in our making of disciples, we get lost in strategizing and programming and branching and growing and we miss the amazing presence of God in the moment. I know I struggle to stay focused on that.

It takes a different level of engagement in the conversation for me. It takes a different kind of question. It takes a different commitment to walking the journey with others, regardless of the process.

Processes aren’t bad. They are necessary and can be very useful. But the very thing that gives us power for living, wisdom for making decisions, and awareness of how we can grow in Christ is the Holy Spirit living and working in us. I wonder if we don’t sometimes want process at the expense of relationship — with God and others. And maybe those relationships were the point to begin with.

Next time you are in a “disciple-making” conversation, try being fully engaged and present with the person and the Holy Spirit. See what happens. It may very well change everything you thought about how to make disciples well.