Do our definitions matter?

A few years ago I was having fun with disciplemaking friends and family by playing Draw Something. It’s pictionary on steroids. You have a set of letters to choose from and a set of blanks to fill in the word that describes the picture. Each picture has only one right answer: just one definition.

Let’s try it together. What five-letter word matches this picture?


Having a little trouble with this one? It turns out that my grandson Tyler (then in kindergarten) had hijacked his dad’s iPad and played his turn of Draw Something. He chose a five-letter word, BLIMP,  but drew whatever he wanted…a Koala bear in a tree, a dog with a stick, a monkey on a branch…What do you see? He drew his own definition of blimp…one that had nothing to do with the actual picture.

Have you experienced a BLIMP moment lately?

We are often guilty of doing the same thing with God. We write our own definition of his identity, his plan and his purposes. But we’re missing knowing him by his own definition.

When it comes to understanding disciplemaking, does it matter how we define things? Is your definition of what God intends for you, your family and your friends as disciplemakers close to the one we find in Scripture?

One of my favorite passages for drawing a well-defined picture of disciplemaking is Deuteronomy 6. I invite you to study & share this chapter together with a friend or family member. Based on this passage, how do you define disciplemaking? How might you be drawing your picture differently than the one you discover here?

Our love affair with books

 I know. We’re in love with books these days.

The Bible? Not so much.

I am often asked by ministry leaders, “What are you reading?” I smile and deadpan, “The Bible. It’s an amazing book. It’s really changing my life.” (This is where my wife starts kicking me under the table.) They’re like, “Well of course the Bible, but what other books are you reading?” I continue: “No, seriously, I’m reading the Bible and trying to learn how to make disciples like Jesus.”

Insert long awkward pause here. Often the conversation changes subjects or ends.

Interesting, ain’t it? Maybe it’s my coffee breath. I’m not trying to be a self-righteous jerk. I’m simply trying to answer the question—and have an honest and thoughtful conversation.

THE Book

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-books. I’m not trying to throw all books except the Bible under the bus. I’ll read/listen to about 12-15 books this year. But I used to read about 30 books a year. In an effort to make the Bible my first and primary text in life, I’m learning to be very selective about what books I read. I even ask God to show me what books he wants me to read. I value good books, but not more than THE Book.


open-bibleI think it’s a big mistake to make any book beside the Bible the first and primary focal point of disciplemaking. (Yes, that goes for anything I’ve written as well.) Why? Because the way you give disciplemaking to someone is the way they will tend to give disciplemaking to others. So, instead of making a book the center of your disciplemaking, make THE Book the first and primary text of your Disciplemaking Learning Community…so that when those you disciple start to disciple others, they will do it using the Bible. (Call me old school if you want. I’ve been called worse.)

It’s time to get over our love affair with books and get back to our love affair with Jesus as found in THE Book.

There. I said it.

After you’ve established God’s Word as the the first and primary text in your life and disciplemaking, then you may want supplement your learning with a book if you are so inclined. However, don’t feel obligated to use books. God—as it says in the Bible—has already given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

There I go again.

“The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed [in the mind] like nails are the collected sayings which are given [as proceeding] from one Shepherd. But about going further [than the words given by one Shepherd], my son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end [so do not believe everything you read], and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”
—Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:11-12

So what’s next for you?

I challenge you to consider the 15 minutes a day that will change your life forever.

Turning your friendships into disciplemaking friendships

When I went back to college later in life, I was told that I had a “math deficiency.” I ended up having to buy an introductory mathematics book and re-teaching myself some basics.

Every day I worked through a portion of that pitifully boring math book—alone.

However, once a week I met with a tutor who monitored my progress (or lack thereof) and tried to answer my many questions. (“Why would anyone plant a garden in the form of a triangle and then use the Pythagorean Theorem to measure the hypotenuse?”)

One day I asked my tutor, “Help me understand integers”—and I pronounced it exactly like it’s spelled: “in-TEG-ers.” My tutor smiled and said, “You mean, integers”—and she pronounced it “IN-ti-jers.” Sensing my embarrassment, she said, “It’s okay. You couldn’t have known this simply by working through the book by yourself.”

Right then and there I realized this: Solo book learning is a good start, but a fuller, deeper learning happens in community.

In my math community—with a tutor and few other struggling students—I learned to correctly pronounce mathematical terms I’ll probably never need, such as “integer.” (My math is up to speed these days, but you may have noticed that I still have a significant math deficiency in my attitude.)

In Jesus’ day, this fuller, deeper, communal learning was known as havering. And as it turns out, haver learning is a critically important part of the disciplemaking genius of Jesus. Why? Because you will never fully come to know and experience Jesus or disciplemaking by simply working through the Book by yourself.

(From the introduction to the Disciplemaker’s Living Guide.)

Announcing the Disciplemaker’s Living Guide

This Disciplemaker’s Living Guide is a tool for transforming friendships into disciplemaking friendships. It’s great for families, students, small groups, discipleship groups, Sunday school classes, elder’s meetings, staff meetings, disciplemaking learning communities, mission trip teams, and even improving your marriage.


What’s New?

  • A refreshed size and design.
  • A helpful introduction on why and how to use it as a dialogue rather than merely a devotional guide.
  • The Disciplemaker’s Prayer and a challenge to pray it daily.
  • Language that clearly ties this resource to the disciplemaking priorities and practices spelled out in the Disciplemaking Is Relationships training.

5 Ways to Use this Living Guide

  1. With Volunteers and Students:
    Use the Disciplemaker’s Living Guide to help your adult staff and student leaders grasp and own the value of disciplemaking friendships as the conduit for gospel ministry.
  2. In Small Groups:
    Once your team-adults and students-understands and starts living the values, bring it to your entire ministry. This is a great series for small groups.
  3. For Retreats:
    This living guides is a great summer camp or fall or winter retreat experience. Cadre offers a four-session training called Disciplemaking Is Relationships.
  4. Family Discussions:
    Consider doing a family night using this living guide to explore what it looks like to live a disciplemaking way of life together. Invite other families to share this living guide experience.
  5. Starting Meetings:
    Instead of just starting meetings in prayer, take 15 minutes to have people get into pairs and work through one of the 25 disciplemaking studies/adventures. This will drip essential disciplemaking values into your elder, staff, and team meetings throughout the year.

How might God transform your friendships into disciplemaking friendships?

I dare you to find out.