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The Biggest Mistake You Can Make in Disciple-making!

Are You Setting Your People Up To Win?

Discipleship and mission gets derailed because we forget to begin at the beginning or “begin to begin again”. I can’t believe how many times I’ve made this huge mistake in my disciple-making and development of leaders. [You can avoid this!]

A disciple-making analogy: You take your kids out to your garage, let’s say they are ages 8, 10 and 12 years old. And out there you show them a catalog with a picture of a beautiful armoire or large wooden cabinet.

Super detailed and inlayed and gorgeous! Next to the armoire is a stack of very nice wood and veneers and there are lathes and table saws. Every kind of woodworking tool imaginable. Then you tell your kids to get after it and start making armoires. Maybe a dresser or two while they’re at it.

But here’s the problem: they have never been taught how to make furniture or build cabinets. They were never apprenticed into these types of skills.They love you and want to make you happy so they figure they’ll do as you say and give it a try. Well, if your kids didn’t end up cutting off their fingers it would be a miracle. And they certainly could build nothing like the sample that you showed them. When you come back to check on them a while later there is sawdust and smoke, splinters of wood everywhere and not a few tears. They have failed miserably and now have given up and feel pretty bad about themselves.

You realize you’ve made a huge mistake!

How could you have sent your kids on such an important and potentially dangerous task and not first trained them? Shouldn’t you have helped them, showed them and modeled the skills and tools they would need?

That is exactly what we do when it comes to disciple-making and living life in missional communities. We often send our dearest of friends and really solid leaders off on a mission that they truly know very little about. And we expect them to have a blast, see lots of fruit and new disciples everywhere. But they themselves have never really been discipled or apprenticed into this faith. Not in a way that the gospel touches and transforms all of life.

Then how in the heck are they supposed to go and reproduce something that was never first given to them?

But that’s what we do. We quickly send them off to form new communities. Then we come back to check on them and there’s been a lot of activity and smoke and splinters and tears. But not a lot of disciple-making. [This does not have to be you, let me help you avoid this!]

Don't 'discount' the discipling of Christians–most have never experienced it yet!Click To Tweet

Everything has just sort of ended up as a weekly meeting.

Now everyone is just burned out and they feel like failures. Hey, if we’re honest, most of us were never discipled or apprenticed in a way that the Gospel touched every area of our lives and marriages, finances and parenting etc. And to go a little further, very few of us have ever really attempted to fully apprentice others in the faith. We just haven’t put in the time!

So we gotta be honest with ourselves and others. And we need to be patient.

Small is big and slow is fast when it comes to disciple-making.

Let the rhythms of normal life and the issues and needs that arise, guide the things that you are learning and applying the gospel too. Remember, it’s not just the not-yet-believers in our life that need to be discipled to live in the ways of Jesus. It’s us Christians too. That counts. That’s discipleship too, we have to start with where we’re at.

So if you’ve never…or barely been discipled, and now you’re pushing others out the door to go and do something that they never fully experienced, the next best time to go a little slower at this, and give everyone some time to grow, is now.

If you dig around my website you’ll find a bunch of free resources to help you out with all of this. Or watch the Biggest Mistakes You Can Make in Disciple-making video on Youtube.

Q: What has been your experience (good or bad) of sending people off to make disciples and live on mission? Any questions for me?