I hope you can indulge a bit of allegory. One day, a girl walks into her dad’s tool shop. She spots power tools, hand tools, fasteners, lumber, and glue and thinks to herself, I bet I can make a shelf for my room. Getting to work, she makes some progress, but having never done this before the shelf is not coming together. Frustration rises, but the girl persists. At the end of a long day, her hands have produced something that looks sort of like a shelf, but it too solid. When she picks it up to take to her room, it falls into pieces in the shop. Disappointed, she’s not sure she’ll ever try this again.
But about that time, her dad shows up. He’s delighted that she tried and stuck to it over the course of the day! “Don’t worry,” he says. “Saturday is my day off. Let’s clean up the shop for now and come back here Saturday morning. We’ll make a shelf for your room, together.”
Saturday comes around. Over the course of the morning, they make a very simple shelf. Her dad shows her how to read and follow a design, how to measure and mark the material, and how to use the saw to cut it. At first, her dad asked her to simply watch. But right away, he has her running the tools herself. She messes up a few cuts, but he helps her see how to improve. Before long, he is simply coaching and watching her work with the saw. At the end of the morning, they have a pretty good shelf. And they agree to leave it in the shop and come back the next Saturday to paint it.
They keep meeting most Saturday mornings for a year. As they do, he teaches her to use every tool in the shop and they end up completely refurnishing her room. The Saturday morning “appointment” is not always convenient, but the both enjoy the time together. As they work, he often says, “You know, I remember making things in the shop with my dad when I was about your age. Someday, I hope you can do something like this with your son or daughter.” She is grateful.
By the end of the year, she is a pretty fair furniture maker—and she can even do some things better than her dad. After all the projects are complete, he surprises her with an announcement. “My tools are now your tools. You know how to use them and you can work in here anytime. All I ask is that someday, you show your daughter or son how to use them.” “Dad,” she says earnestly, “can we still work in the shop together on some Saturdays?” He smiles at her, “I sure hope so.”
Essentially, the dad in this story has discipled his daughter in furniture making. He has shown her directly how to use tools and taught her the basics of making furniture—but what he passed on indirectly was more important. He taught her something about the way a parent should teach a child— and he set up an expectation in her heart to do the same thing.
This booklet is a discipleship tool kit. Your task is to teach the people in your group to learn to use the tools. The task of teaching the tools cannot be neglected, but the relationships you build and sustain with the people in your group over the course of the experience are more important. They will be learning a way, a pattern for being a disciple maker that will be new to many of them. Teaching them to use the tools effectively is important, but how you work with them and do life with them is more important.
In order to do this well, I highly recommend that you make some investments.
- Invest in prayer. Ask the Lord to equip you as a disciple maker for the season ahead by His Spirit and by the Body of Christ. And ask the Lord to lead you to those he desires for you to invest in.
- If you haven’t been in one, invest some time in a “discipleship huddle” or a similar mentor-led, missional discipleship group. Without that experience, you will have far less to pass on. Get in a discipleship huddle! Seriously. If you have no other recourse, call me at 904-599-2889 and we’ll see if we can’t set something up.
- If you don’t already have one, invest in a study Bible to have with you as you disciple.
- Invest in these two books. Acquire and start reading these two books. Read through them. What you have here is a supplemental to what you find there. They will be invaluable.
Building a Discipling Culture, 2011, by Mike Breen, available at 3dmovements.com.
The Huddle Leaders Guide, 2012, by Mike Breen, available at http://www.3dmovements.com
HUGE: Be in an accountable relationship outside the group you lead. It is best if you are accountable to a local church. But at the very least, have someone in your life who you trust, who is praying for you, who knows what you are doing, who understands the pitfalls and temptations that disciple-makers face, and who can ask you hard questions. The reputation of Christ is at stake in this, and the enemy will try to mess it up. Don’t go into this uncovered, spiritually.
Finally, get started. Gather two to six people and get started. Did I mention already that you should get started? Really, get started! Gather people and let them know three things up front.
1) You are learning, too. You want to pass on what you are learning.
2) The goal is to learn to use the tools, not get through the curriculum. It’ll take 12 to 18 months.
3) You want them to pass on to others what they are learning, too.
Because as G.K. Chesterton said, “If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”