What If Disciplemaking IS Leadership?

One of my friends who is a leader in his denomination asked me, “Do you do any leadership training?”
 
I said, “Yes. We call it disciplemaking training,” and then I winked at him. (We’re still good friends.)
 
There is so much talk about “leadership” in ministry these days—and yet, so little disciplemaking.
 
Here’s a crazy thought on leadership: 
What if disciplemaking is leadership? If that’s true, then whoever initiates disciplemaking friendships is a leader—even if he or she doesn’t hold a “leadership” title or position. Real leaders don’t need a title or position. They just live it. It’s a way of life for them, not a job. 
 
While I’m jumping off a cliff, let me say this: 
All disciplemakers are leaders, but not all “leaders” are disciplemakers.
 
There. I said it. But before you reject it, run what I just said through your understanding of Jesus’ life and ministry. Think with me: Jesus doesn’t just make disciples, he makes disciplemakers. Jesus doesn’t simply collect a large group of followers and call that success. No, Jesus seeks to transform every follower into a fisher.
 
Hence, Jesus is the ultimate “leader.” But he lived as a humble servant who made disciplemakers. Pardon me, but I’m a little suspicious of any talk of “leadership” that is not centered on Jesus, humility, servanthood, and disciplemaking.
 
The more I study Jesus the more I question current conventional wisdom on leadership.
 
We really need to pause and rethink what it means to be a ministry leader or church leader in light of the biblical Jesus. I contend that making disciples like Jesus is the fullest and truest expression of what it means to be a spiritual leader. And if that’s true, then whoever initiates, lives, and shares The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus as a way of life with others is a leader. 
 
What if instead of defining leadership as “influence,” we defined it as initiating disciplemaking friendships that multiply? What might happen if every paid and volunteer leader in a church or ministry actually led—not just with their lips—but with their lives like this
 
I dare you to try to find out.
 
 
[Note: This post has been excerpted from The Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus, (c) 2018 CadreMissionaries.com. Used by permission.]

Jesus Sends Me… As He was Sent.

Are you ready and willing to be a living exhibition of what life with God is like? Jesus invites you to join him in this adventure. Connecting in our World is the contact of the eternal with the mundane—and it can be a transforming adventure that we unwrap everyday.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” —Matthew 28:18-20 

The command here is to “make disciples.” The context expects us to be out in our world accomplishing this ultimate priority. While going, we are to multiply ourselves by making new disciples, baptizing them and guiding them until they are living out these truths in their own lives—making disciples themselves! Jesus demonstrated his own commitment to “going” by his birth and life among us. He identified with those he loved as he sought to make disciples. I wonder if instead of following Jesus’ example, we practice a “Great Omission” today—we post a sign or run an ad and wait for the lost to find their own way to us. As shepherds, let’s go meet the sheep where they are. 

Scriptures emphasize going. John 15 focuses on going and bearing fruit. In Mark 16 Christ says, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” In John 20:21, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Yet we often say, “Come, come, come. Come to our ___________ program. Come to our beautiful facility. Come to our activity.” We even have it turned around so that we find ourselves getting mad, disgusted and discouraged with our friends because they don’t come—yet Jesus told us to go. We have no right to expect others to draw close until we have been faithful in going. 

HUNGER FOR GOD

The Bible teaches that our lives are “letters” read by those people around us (2 Cor. 3:2). The disciplemaker must take time to cultivate the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, evangelism and spiritual breathing (confession of sin and complete yielding to the Spirit). We should be able to say, as Paul said to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Students can sense the intensity of my relationship with God when they spend time with me. My personal time with Christ spills over and affects people around me more than any other time investment I make—students know when my quiet time is going well, and they can tell when it isn’t. 

COMPASSION FOR PEOPLE

Jesus lived in a world of hurting and needy people. Matthew 8:14-15 describes an instance when Jesus was at Peter’s house, and he saw Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with fever. Jesus touched her hand and the fever left her. The teen years are hard. The challenges students face are only intensified by struggles with self-image, acceptance and meaning in life. We must compassionately understand the basic needs students have if we intend to minister to them. In Five Cries of Youth, Merton Strommen details these basic needs and how we as disciplemakers and even youth workers can deal with them.

Strommen surveyed more than seven thousand teenagers about their values, beliefs, opinions and concerns about themselves, their friends, their world, and their God. He writes, “If you listen, you can hear cries, rising out of the data with compelling insistence: sobs, angry shouts, hurrahs, protests and jeers.” Our love for hurting students should come from an overflow of our personal relationship with Christ.

Mark 1:40-45 refers to this principle: “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees… Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” 

Likewise, we need to let compassion come alive in us as we interact with students. 

Leaders must be prepared to confront the questions students are facing: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? In Leadership, Barry St. Clair describes a leader’s role in the lives of students:

Webster defines leadership as the ‘ability to show the way or guide the course of action of another by going before or going beside.’ As you examine that definition, one thing becomes apparent about being a leader. You can’t show someone else the way to go unless you have been there (or are going there) yourself. In other words, the quality of your life will determine the quantity of your influence. As you minister to students, you must catch hold of the concept that, ‘If I take care of the depth of my spiritual life, then God will take care of the breadth of my disciplemaking adventure.’ Simply stated, leadership is a life-style. God can use you to influence others, but your influence will be in proportion to the type of lifestyle that you lead. 

My connecting skills are only valuable when they are supported by a meaningful relationship with God. 

RELATIONAL ABILITIES OF A DISCIPLEMAKER 

Because of the significance of the connecting intentionality, we realize that disciplemakers need to develop several convictions: 

WILLINGNESS TO SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE (for example as Youth Workers with Students) 

Many students today lack significant relationships with adults due to the breakdown of the family, economic pressures requiring both parents and teens to work, and the development of a youth subculture that tends to breed mistrust and misunderstanding between generations. If people only see us on Sundays, and we are “phantom” Christians the rest of the week, they may easily conclude that we don’t really care about them as individuals. We must earn the right to be heard and show our concern for them by learning about their interests and becoming involved in their lives. 

SENSITIVITY TO PEOPLES’ DEVELOPING IDENTITIES (for example as Youth Workers with Students)

Like many of us, students are people in transition. As disciplemakers and youth leaders, we need to be aware of the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual makeup of our students (and our friends & neighbors) and their various stages of development. Be careful not to stereotype or categorize others—each deserves individual attention and care. This individual love means accepting students even with their imperfections. It’s common to know students, family and friends who are struggling to form their unique identity—and to see them undergo personality changes and try new fads. We must strive to accept each individual as God’s creation rather than condemn or judge their self-worth.

Our sensitivity should include speaking the truth in love when a student’s new individuality infringes upon the rights of others. Remember that discipleship and discipline are as closely related as they sound. 

A DOSE OF AGGRESSIVENESS 

Growing up, my mom and I used to go fishing. We never just sat in the boat waiting for fish to jump in. Of course not! We aggressively went after them, making an effort to find out where the fish were, and then caught them. “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.’” —Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus called us to join him in fishing for men, not waiting for fish to swim up to us. We must aggressively, but lovingly and tactfully, go after them. In John 4, Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes. Look into the fields. See that they are white unto harvest.” Often we are so busy planning our own programs and looking at our own problems that we fail to see how ripe the harvest is. That’s why Jesus urged us to look around and see how ready the harvest really is. Compassion should lead us to vigorously pursue Christ’s example and commission. 

WILLINGNESS TO IDENTIFY WITH THE ANOTHER’S WORLD

For example, Teenagers can easily develop a dichotomy in their minds—the church world, and the “real” world. What goes on in the church world is good and valuable; but it doesn’t relate, in their minds, to the real world. When we penetrate the real world that students live in by going on their turf, the dichotomy breaks down. Our teaching has new value as they realize that a daily walk with Christ does relate to them. A side benefit of entering the world of students is that we gain a better understanding of what life is like for them. Too often we teach from theory or old personal experiences rather than dealing with the real issues this generation is facing this month. 

CONSISTENCY IN CONNECTING

We must have the conviction that connecting is as important two years into our friendships and ministries as it is during the initial months of our friendships. We must guard against the “sigh of relief” syndrome that says, “I used to do that, but thankfully, I’m past that stage.” Connecting is a continual process that expresses the value we place on people. Threats to consistency: 

Connecting takes time and effort. Building relationships and penetrating circles of friends does not come naturally. If we fail to take the time or encourage other leaders and students to make intentional contacts, we soon will become an ingrown group without any non-Christian friends or fringe students close enough to impact. 

Connecting takes courage and boldness.

A problem that we face in maintaining a connecting intentionality is what Pat Hurley refers to as the stomach problem—visiting a high school campus, students’s homes, local hangouts, etc. all require a certain amount of guts. 

Perhaps this is what Paul was experiencing when he wrote to the Corinthians: “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). Fear is a natural response as we leave our own spiritual and peer comfort zone to “cross-culturally” contact teens. But if we are afraid to go to them, isn’t it easy to see why they would be terrified to come to a church or church-based group? Remember Christ’s promise: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). 

Results may come slowly. We must face the possibility that we will not see the impact of our connecting intentionality for a long time. I remember my first contacts well. Not only was I nervous, but I felt awkward and out of place; yet I was always praying and asking God to help me know what to say. I wanted students to know that I was truly interested in their lives and cared enough to spend time with them. Connecting is slow and often discouraging, but trust develops over time. 

Remember the wisdom of Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

—by Dave & Rennie Garda, Cadre Missionaries, dave@cadremissionaries.com

 

Are You Aware of Jesus’ Disciplemaking Secret Sauce?

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Because of your history with CadreBlog, we want to honor and thank you in a special way. 

You are among the very first to hear about Cadre’s brand new bookThe Disciplemaking Genius of Jesus: The Why, What, and How of Disciplemaking Friendships that Multiply.

That’s right. We wanted to do something special for our longtime friends like you—so we’ve printed a limited number of special book covers we’re calling our “Pre-release Friend Edition.” 

Here’s how the brand new book is laid out…

Section 1 The WHY of Disciplemaking Friendships

  • Introduction: Are We Confidently Walking In Circles?
  • Chapter 1 Why Disciplemaking Like Jesus?

Section 2 The WHAT of Disciplemaking Friendships [Discover the Secret Sauce]

  • Chapter 2 It All Starts with TW
  • Chapter 3 Add Generous Amounts of K4
  • Chapter 4 Stir It All Together with D3

Section 3 The HOW of Disciplemaking Friendships

  • Chapter 5 Start Here Start Now—with PIE
  • Conclusion: Your Disciplemaking Friendship Stories

This book explores…

  • Why disciplemaking friendships is a way of life is for every follower of Jesus.
  • The three irreducible minimums for Jesus-like disciplemaking friendships that multiply (a.k.a., Jesus’ disciplemaking “secret sauce.”
  • Tons of real-life stories that reveal the nuts and bolts of Jesus-like disciplemaking friendships.
  • Almost 400 questions to make you think and wrestle what disciplemaking friendships that multiply looks like in real life with your family and friends.
  • The three most important first steps for engaging God and others in a disciplemaking friendship.
  • How to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading in the formation and development of disciplemaking friendships that multiply.

Plus, each of the five chapters concludes with application and discussion questions perfect for reading and wrestling what you learn together with family and friends. 

We’ve built-in bulk-quantity discounts up to 33% off for larger quantities. And discounts start for as few as 5 or more.

  • Buy 5 – 10 and get 10% off
  • Buy 11 – 20 and get 15% off
  • Buy 21 or above and get 18% off
  • Buy 50 or above and get 33% off
  • Go here: to order your copies today.

Have You Ever Been Present at a Birth?

About 17 years ago, I was a happy high school teacher who did speaking, preaching and training on the weekends and all summer long. In those days we partnered often with our dear friends, Scott and Rachel Kramer—who are amazing musical missionaries.

One day while eating pizza at the Kramer’s home, Scott pulled out a large box filled to the brim with envelopes. He said, “Bill, put your hands in here and feel how many envelopes are in this box.” It was sort of weird, but, hey, he just bought my larger-than-normal family pizza. I’ll do anything for a friend like that. I kneeled down by the box and put my hands at the very bottom of all those envelopes. Then I pulled up lots and lots of envelopes.

Then Scott said, “We’ve been raising support as missionaries for a number of years now and every one of those envelopes had a check from a friend or a church.” I thought to myself: That’s a lot of support. While I was glad for them, I wasn’t sure where this was going. Then Scott said, “We’ve been partnering with you for a while now, and I want you to know that if you ever dare to step out by faith to do Cadre full-time, I believe with all my heart God will take care of you.”

I don’t remember saying anything in response because I had six young kids at the time—and every one of them liked to eat regularly. Plus, I must confess, that I was a member of the “I-will-never-raise-support-to-do-ministry” club. (Have you ever said that?) Yet, I still had brief moments when I considered it. But here’s the truth: I was too chicken to trust God to provide. And I loved teaching—and the few benefits that came with it. But in my head, I thought the biggest hurdle would be my wife. I never broached the subject with her, but I was pretty sure she wouldn’t go for the raising support thing.

On the way home from Scott and Rachel’s, I asked Stacy what she thought about Scott’s comments. To my complete surprise she said, “I’ve seen this coming for a few years now. If we don’t take a step of faith and give it try, we’ll never know.”

Not exactly what I was expecting. The rest of the car ride home all I could think about was how I was the one who refused to step out in faith. I was the roadblock. As I drove home, I silently prayed, “Is all this really you, Lord?” There’s a huge difference between a good idea and a God idea.

As we pulled into our driveway, everyone piled out and I walked to the mailbox to get the day’s mail. Once inside, I noticed a personal letter. I opened it. It was from someone I couldn’t readily identify at the time. It said, “Last Sunday you spoke at our church. God kept impressing on my heart to send you this check. I’m not sure why, but I did it anyway.”

Yikes! This was getting a little ridiculous. God was already providing for us and we hadn’t even asked anyone for help. But isn’t that just like God? If we dare to pray, he’ll let us know what to do.

It wasn’t long after that, we reached out to our good friends, Dave and Rennie Garda, to share with them what God was doing in our hearts. Not long after that, God birthed what we know now as Cadre Missionaries. And so far, by God’s daily provision, we’ve never looked back. (Thank you Jesus!)  It has been an amazing adventure.

______________________________________________________________

For 16 years, God and YOU have made it possible for us, as Cadre missionaries, to multiply Jesus-like disciplemaking here and around the world. Let me keep this real: For 16 years we’ve had no buffer financially. Every month is a financial adventure. We’re not sitting on a financial nest egg. We literally live month to month. Please don’t misunderstand. We’re not complaining. We joyfully signed up for this adventure. And for sixteen years, God has provided for us through friends like you. I often think of your financial partnership as manna—just enough for today—and each day it is enough.

From our hearts to yours: Thank you!
If you love Cadre missionaries and our disciplemaking mission, we invite you to be God’s wind in our sails.

Those of you who know us well know that over 90 percent of our communications are not about financial support like this. However, on our 16th anniversary as a ministry, we really do need your $ help, so we’re asking God’s people—like you—to join us in this disciplemaking adventure.

We’d love to see 300 of our friends respond with a special gift of $16. That would bless Cadre with $4,800 much needed dollars.

Will YOU be one of our 300 friends?

______________________________________________________________

To donate $16 go here. (Other giving options below.)

  • If you’ve never financially supported Cadre Missionaries before, this would be a great first step.
  • If you’re already a giving partner with God & Cadre, then please prayerfully consider an additional $16.

In a ministry like ours, every dollar makes a huge difference. Each gift—no matter the size—is a huge encouragement, much needed, and greatly appreciated.

Because Cadre seeks to make disciplemakers, only Heaven will reveal the full impact of your partnership.

We really are your Cadre missionaries. Thank you for celebrating 16 years of Jesus-like disciplemaking with us and to God be the glory!

Bill Allison, Executive Director, for the Cadre team.

Other giving options…

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Cadre Missionaries is a recognized 501(c)3 not-for-profit ministry and all gifts are tax deductible.

Insights from a Communal Perspective As you put away your Selfie Stick…

 

One of of my favorite chapters in Lois’ new book is Chapter 7. It calls us to the joy of mutual community and hovering friendships as we engage God as a people of friends…  a y’all of a faith community:

Here is how the Chapter “Insights from a Communal Perspective” begins:

Did you know that you can now order a copy of a Bible translation called “Your Personalized Bible” which will insert your name in more than seven thousand verses?

Here are a few verses from my copy: Lois like a sheep has gone astray. Lois has turned to her own way; and the LORD has laid on Him Lois’s iniquity. (Isa. 53:6)
Lois is the light of the world. (Matt. 5:14)
You have made Lois a little lower than God, 
And crowned Lois with glory and honor.
You make Lois a ruler over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things under Lois’ feet. (Ps. 8:5–6)

You might think I’d be a fan of this style of study. I’m single, never married. I’m self-employed. I work by myself out of my own home office. I have no boss, no husband, no children. I’m queen of my own pleasant little world. I’ve heard the siren call of individualism and succumbed as much as anyone, so you’d think I’d want to read my Bible that way.

The more I study the Bible, however, the more I’m realizing the many ways that an individualistic approach misunderstands the text.”

… And later in the chapter…

Part of the reason we read the biblical text as if it were addressed to “me personally” is because English only has one word, you, which can be either singular or plural. Unlike Greek, Hebrew, and many other languages, we can’t distinguish whether a speaker is addressing one person or a group. As a result, English speakers have a habit of reading every “you” in the Bible as if it’s addressed to “me all by myself” rather than “me within God’s larger community.”

American Southerners have an advantage here, because they use “y’all” when they address a group. Maybe the antidote to the “Your Personalized Bible” is to publish a “Southern-style” Bible where Jesus says, “Y’all are the light of the world,” and Paul says, “Y’all are the temple of God,” so that we’d know both were speaking to groups rather than to individuals.

Putting Away My Selfie Stick

I hope I’ve awakened your appetite to read more. I am…

Excerpt From
Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
Lois Tverberg
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reading-the-bible-with-rabbi-jesus/id1276245722?mt=11