On July 18, 2012, the General Baptists gathered in Springfield, Missouri for their annual conference. The central theme encompassed the concept of evangelism and learning how to be better fishermen. Almost as a foreshadowing of the next year’s gathering focusing on discipleship, Tony Marino was invited to present a workshop.
The workshop Tony taught was entitled, “The Discipling Church” and was presented three times. Since I was in the area I stopped by to observe this presentation first hand and to record my findings. The room was tight and the seats were close, but those that came were not disappointed. Tony, as only Tony can, gave them everything he had and held little back. This fiery, graying Italian, marketing guru, used every bit of his time, and then some, to attempt to challenge, encourage, explain and motivate the crowd.
Because of my desire to observe and report, I stayed and covertly operated the power point on the laptop for the three workshops. Each presentation was better than the previous one and those that attended the third one were indeed blessed. Tony refined his goals, made mid-course corrections and adapted his presentation in order to present the most effective workshop possible. Each session was rated by those that attended, and the grades soared through the roof by the third one. Due to Tony’s advancing age, he was worn out after the day’s work, but grateful for the Lord’s anointing. Thankfully his lovely and gracious wife Lynn was there to assist him to his room.
The participants in the workshop were treated to a long drink from a fire hose of information. Discipleship was presented as the clarion call of the Church and like the precious jewel it is, many aspects were explored as it was turned over and over in the light of the truth of God’s Word. No matter which angle you look at this gem, the call from Jesus is clear – Go and Make Disciples!
Tony skillfully presented a host of problems we face in discipleship and debunked many of the excuses used to not walk in obedience to Jesus’ final command to His Church. Heads could be seen nodding in agreement as excuse after excuse was blow apart. There simply is no reason not to disciple others and those that attended these workshops agreed heartily.
There were many wonderful questions from the audience and solutions were presented, but they cannot all be explored here due to the lack of space and time. Suffice it to say, that if someone desires to grow in being a discipler, if they want to learn how to lead others in the process, tools are available. Many of which are on this very site, so please explore and let us know if you can’t find what you are looking for or what you need.
What I can leave you with is what was given to those in attendance – 10 practical steps to begin discipleship now. They are below and if you have no idea what to do, or where to begin, try these! Overall the workshops accomplished the purposes God had intended – He received glory and many were motivated to begin the exciting journey of disciplining others.
Practical Discipleship Action Strategies
Develop and schedule a daily prayer and Bible study routine – specifically aimed at maturing you as a disciple and discipler; then keep your appointment with God. Keep a journal of what God shows you.
Access Resources and Relationships
Purchase and read our book. Connect with us via our website’s Pastor’s Forum for secured access to the materials you need to begin your discipleship journey. Prayerfully consider forming a partnership with us or someone who knows how to proficiently disciple others.
Start in the Home
Begin/Continue in your own home to lead your family in daily prayer, Bible study, and worship. Discussions around the table and before bedtime with your children will enhance the discipleship process with those closest to you.
Seek and Be a Mentor | Be the Discipler
Like Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas; everyone needs a mentor (discipler); needs to become a mentor (disciple); and needs other people (disciples) around them that can support them through a lifelong discipleship process. If you do not have time for relationships, you are far too busy.
Live Out the Discipleship Process
Ask God to show you someone outside of your own family to begin to invest time in. This person can be from within your church or from outside your church. Meet with them regularly to discuss God’s Word, pray together, and develop a close relationship/bond. Follow the guidelines in our book and at our website.
Evaluate Your Schedule
Aggressively evaluate your weekly schedule and remove all things that are not producing Kingdom fruit and helping people to grow in their walk with God. If you keep doing what you have been doing that has not been working, you cannot expect to attain measurable discipleship growth.
Be Discipleship-Centric in All Things
Begin to introduce discipleship into every sermon, Sunday school class, and activity within your church. All activities, events, and teaching opportunities must be clearly grounded and recognized with a discipleship bent. Encourage your families to practice discipleship within their homes in order to enhance your teachings to make the biggest impact between each regularly scheduled church meeting.
Live a Fully-Committed Discipleship Plan
Meet with the people in your church to define, explain, and discuss discipleship. Lead them to follow your example in the first 6 steps. Your goal must be to invest time in relationships that will reproduce other relationships (disciples). Schedule one meeting a week, or at least, every other week. Be sure to be faithful and adhere to the completion of these tasks.
Conduct a Discipleship Situation Analysis
Perform a church and personal S.W.O.T analysis to assist you in your endeavors of discipleship. Your goal is to fully know and understand yourself and each and every church member that you have been called to equip for Christ Jesus (discipleship). Follow the guidelines in our book and at our website.
Conduct a Discipleship Progress Analysis
Identify discipleship progress in yourself, your family, and those who you are ministering (serving) within in the discipleship process. Where and when necessary, apply adjustments and corrections to your discipleship process and spiritually repeat each of above action strategies until called home by God. Follow the guidelines in our book and at our website.
Feature Image by Stefan Kunze