Tag Archives: disciple

8 ways to make a disciple.

A disciple is a person who chooses to allow the life and teaching of someone to shape his/her own life. There can be an invitation from the teacher or a request from the disciple. (Apprentice is one of our best other words for this, a person working with a master.)

coffee cupMaybe you want to help other people take your business and replicate it. Maybe you want to help other people understand how to be an entrepreneur like you, like you learned from someone else. Maybe you want to help people understand more about following Jesus.

You can’t do this with everyone in your life. It takes too much time to explain how all the time (See How: the missing piece in training.) However, there are a handful of people that you want to do everything possible to help grow.

Here are 8 simple ways to make a disciple.

1. Invite people who you see have potential, whether they see it or not.

2. Spend lots of time together in a very small group out of the spotlight.

3. Let them see the cracks in your life.

4. Let them know the pain and struggles that comes from being like you.

5. Show them the infrastructure behind the scenes.

6. Trust them with your identity.

7. Trust them with their project.

8. Bless them.

(Actually, there is only one way. Show them your life.)

Related posts on making disciples:

How to be like me. or you.

Discipleship is cafe-shaped conversations

Whose opinions should matter to you

Fans and disciples

My ebook on Making disciples

8 ways Jesus helped people learn


Solve the problem in front of you

SOBcon is a conference where 150 people who use social media to communicate and relate and learn, spend 3 days talking with each other about how to do those things better. It’s a combination of church and a cocktail party and an “ask the author” session and an episode of  “This Old [marketing] House”  and group therapy (“no one out there understands me” “I understand”).

Genius tableWe were in the first big discussion session of SOBcon last Friday. As I look at my notes, Jonathan Fields had talked about career success, about finding the intersection of a viable niche (my paraphrase: A group of people, constantly renewing, who are actively searching for something that works to alleviate the pain they are experiencing, and who have the resources for that pain release) and your passion (my paraphrase: the ability to solve a problem in a way that makes us come alive.)

Somehow, the panel discussion that followed turned into a panel talking about fear, about how to deal with fear, about dealing with failure.

And then our table started talking about what to do, both about fear and failure and about actually identifying niches and markets and audiences.  We were the genius table, the trouble table: Becky McCray and Sheila Scarborough and Britt Raybould and Nancy Swanson and Steve Woodruff.

As I look at my notes from that conversation, I see a box with a phrase from Sheila: Solve the problem in front of you.

When she’s dealing with a thousand things, with lots of “what could happens” with fears and ambiguities and distractions, that’s where she starts.

And then in my notes, right below that box, I see a list of names.

The list of names is five guys that I know from church, from my work. I know questions that each of the five regularly think about, regularly ask of themselves and of others. I know the questions that a couple of the guys are asking right now, about their future, about their growth.

And I realize that part of finding your niche, finding your market, living out your passion is simply taking Sheila’s advice.

Solve the problem in front of you.

I don’t look at these guys or their questions as problems. But I do see that I have within my ability and resources and interest helping each of these five guys work on the answers to their questions. In fact, I find that idea quite energizing. And in the process we might work through some answers that may be helpful to other people as well.

As I think about SOBcon, as I think about figuring out passion and niches and social media and the other stuff that comes out of that conference, I can do all kinds of planning, dreaming, speculating, and worrying. Or, I can say to five guys, “Have you thought about this way of answering that question?”

So for the next couple days, among other things, I’ll be working on these questions and talking with these guys. They are, I suppose, a very small niche. But they meet the definition. And it’s not about the size of the market sometimes. It’s about helping people who want to understand.

You know what I mean?

what is your challenge

A good friend asked me that question this week.

I answered, “helping provide people with simple clear next steps.”

The question came as I was thinking about what I need to do for and with people around me. The question came as I was thinking about what our church community could do. The question came early in the morning before I could figure out what I was really thinking.

But my answer was pretty accurate for what I think would be helpful. Rather than constantly telling, constantly broadcasting, constantly selling, constantly talking about whatever, what if I spent time listening to people and then helping them identify the one next step for them to take, the one part of the process to implement, the one phone call to make, the one relationship to start?

I am good at providing a firehose, at giving the plans for the whole house, at writing the whole story. And sometimes that’s good.

But I bet that if I could tell you clearly and simply the next thing to do and then let you wrestle with the risk and the challenge and the consequences…while sitting quietly with you…that you might find that helpful.

Particularly if the next words were simple, “follow me.”

I mean, it worked in the past.

Where would Jesus sit for the parade

I work in a small town, if work is what pastors do. It’s Saturday morning, 10:30. I’m sitting at my desk, feet up, typing. This.

My window looks out on the main street into town. Most days I see cars, Amish buggies, trucks, and the occasional fire engine. At this moment, I’m watching the Leo High School marching band. It’s the Grabill Country Fair Parade.

I’m supposed to be working on a sermon for tomorrow morning. I don’t preach very often here, which is probably good for everyone. I’m pretty unstructured, pretty story focused. It’s helpful and thought-provoking…in small doses.

I’m trying to understand for tomorrow what it means to be a disciple. An everyday disciple.

The cashiers from the grocery store are walking by. Tiffany is one of the managers. She attends here. She’s a disciple. She’s working hard to take what she knows about Jesus and live it in a life that has been challenging.

I wonder whether I should be out there, talking with people, listening to people. Isn’t that what Jesus would be doing? Instead of sitting in here, I mean?

I mean, we’d make him the Grand Marshall, instead of the Turner Cup champion Fort Wayne Komets. Minor league hockey is cool, but a guy who walks on water? Maybe he’d take the parade across the reservoir. Of course, the last parade he was in ended very badly.

Instead, right now, there’s a big gap in the parade. Something must be coming, but I can’t see it.

Or maybe Jesus wouldn’t be the Grand Marshall. Maybe he would have been walking along the route campaigning.  “Jesus for Senate,” the buttons would say. There would be flyers and promises…and cynicism.

He probably wouldn’t be driving the old tractor pulling an even older harvesting machine. Unless he were talking about sowing and reaping.

It’s possible that he’d be riding as an honorary citizen. The ones that just went by? He’s been the bank president for a long time and just retired. He’s been pretty committed to being low key. When I think of him, I don’t think of bank assets. I think of a guy who wants to spend more time teaching  and understanding the next step of following Jesus.

Jesus might have been walking along the parade route just talking with people. Paul, for example, has known Jesus for a long time. They are personal friends. But last week Paul found out that the spot on his pancreas is cancer. Patrick Swayze got a standing ovation last night on TV and is making progress with his cancer. Paul probably won’t be on TV, probably won’t get the ovation, probably won’t get much treatment…he’s been through so much that there aren’t many options. I’m guessing that Jesus would spend a little time with Paul. Would He touch him? Would that touch be full of the healing that chemo can only dream of? Or would it be the touch of a friend that says, “no matter what, I’m here.”

People are wandering away. I think the parade may be almost done. I need to go unlock the gym so that people can come and look at the pumpkins and the photographs and the huge sunflower and the quilts. I’m hoping that the smell of the overripe cantaloupe is gone by morning when I’m preaching.

Ah wait. There are the little gymnasts, the ones who are about three feet tall, with mothers and dads who think they are incredibly cute, who are trying to figure out how to keep up. They are about as far from Beijing as I am…but they have an audience. They are loved. They get to wave. And Jesus said that they mattered, that to understand the Kingdom of heaven, we had to look at, become like, those little scouts and twirlers and tumblers who have no clue what a straight line is, who don’t know how to march in a parade. How could they be the standard. They can’t do anything for themselves.

And the float from the Cedars. Most of us would call the people on that float “the old people. ” They live in a retirement center. They’ve done what they are supposed to do in life already. That’s why we keep them there. Except, there’s something about the eyes of the driver. They look familiar.

There is the float that says “Need Help? Burn TV. Read the Bible.” It’s covered with verses about sin. I look at it and think, “That can’t be where Jesus is sitting.” But that’s a pretty critical thing for me to decide. Especially since He said some of those things.

I unlocked the door, but the parade is still going. We don’t have public restrooms, I understand from the past, but I decided to not worry about the restriction. “What happened. Oh. The church wouldn’t let you? Oh.”

I’ve got to get busy on that sermon. About following Jesus. About listening to Him and talking with Him and learning how to live my life as if He were.

I wonder where to start.

8 ways Jesus helped people learn

I was talking about teaching tonight. So I thought I’d pass on this list.

1.  Told them how to do what they already knew how to do. (A bunch of his followers were fishermen. So when he told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, they are thinking, “Um, you preach. We fish.” Of course, he was right.)

2. Called them satan.(Okay, just one of them,  but still, not very affirming.)

3. Made them leave home for three years and live off from scholarships from wealthy women. (Really. Look it up.)

4. Told them stories that they couldn’t figure out.  (And they were getting the translation)

5. Got them into trouble with the people they had been trained to respect. (Yep. The pharisees.  They were the religious leaders. He was a trouble maker.)

6. Sent someone on an internship with a traitor. (All the disciples went out in pairs. So somebody ended up with Judas.)

7. Didn’t give them outlines. (It would have been so much easier. Outlines in three ring binders and powerpoint and the DVD series. Instead, he just spent three years talking with them…every waking moment.)

8. Wasted months between big events. (There are months that we just don’t know about during those three years. And he could have had some great campaigns or something. Instead, he just kept talking and walking and teaching and laughing with these 12 guys.)

Lots of how he did training makes little sense to us. But somehow, it clicked.

disciple in 15 words – what is clear

Yesterday I asked for help. I wanted you to talk about the word “disciple” in 15 words. Twelve of you made comments here and I got a DM on twitter and an email. That’s amazing!.

Here’s I what now know.

Disciple isn’t just this:


Being a disciple may include sitting and listening OR standing and talking.

But it’s about learning and applying and wrestling and struggling and questioning and acknowledging ignorance and acknowledging that someone is more like you want to be than you are and spending time together and spending time trying and spending time messing up and spending time together sorting it out and spending time trying again and understanding that part and spending time learning the next thing. It’s about learning by listening and by watching and by doing and experiencing and by thinking and by waiting. It’s about teaching with a whole life and learning for a whole life.

I think. At least, that’s what I’m hearing in what you said.

Add to the definitions here or comment on what I just said.

Or go and play this weekend.


One last question, though.

You are discipling (all of the stuff above) someone. Who is it? What are they learning?

Disciple in fifteen words

I need your help. I need your fifteen word description, definition, summary, processing of, reaction to the word “disciple”. Don’t look it up. Don’t decide that your answer is silly. Don’t think it needs to be spiritual. Don’t try to second-guess me.

I just need to know what that word means in people’s heads.

Can you help me?

Comment below or email me if you would rather at jnswanson at gmail dot com.