Hey Rookie, congratulations and welcome aboard! I’ve been praying for you.
For over twenty years, I have been making disciple makers and praying for God to raise up disciple makers all over the world. It wasn’t my idea to pray this, I’ve just been following Jesus’ example. Raising up new generations of disciple makers is a big part of the goal. So naturally, I’m excited you are embracing the call God has placed on your life to make disciples. I trust you’ll find there’s nothing on earth more fulfilling than loving God and others like Jesus did!
In case you missed the first in this series, I already discussed the first rookie mistake. Fear induces many of the mistakes that rookie disciple makers fall into and today’s is no exception.
Today’s Rookie Mistake to Avoid: No Explicit Invitation
After thirty minutes of waiting you finally place your order. You can’t help feeling frustrated at your friend who hasn’t shown up to your lunch appointment. After getting their voice mail a couple times, they finally call back. “What lunch appointment? Hey, I wish I had known, but you never invited me to lunch today. I’m in Canada this week!”
As you eat your sandwich alone you know your friend is right. You never did invite them. It seems silly in retrospect, but you were hoping they’d just know.
Making a disciple without explicitly inviting them into a discipling relationship is like trying to have lunch with someone without inviting them. It’s not that it can’t work, but it probably won’t. After all, how can someone know what you are trying to do or respond if they’ve never been asked?
Rookie disciplers are tempted to do this for a few reasons.
First, rookie disciplers believe invitation is awkward.
Typically, those who are most relational often resist an explicit ask. They know disciple making is relational, and an invitation feels mechanical. They argue that people don’t ask someone to be their friend, so why should we ask someone to commit to a discipling relationship?
Second, rookie disciplers believe invitation is unnecessary.
Why invite someone when we can just start doing it? “No-ask disciplers” can do an excellent job with the basics and the disciple making loop. The meetings can be marked by the Word, prayer, and application, so what is the need for an explicit invitation?
Third, rookie disciplers believe invitation can be offensive.
Doesn’t asking someone to disciple them imply that they have things to learn from you? What if they don’t agree with that assessment? Instead of risking a relational conflict they often settle for something lesser (mentoring, coaching, shepherding, accountability, etc.) than a disciple making relationship.
Justin Gravitt, author of this blog, is with Navigator Church Ministries. They have made available to you, The Start Small Grow Slow Strategy, which you can download for free here.
I understand the concerns. As Jim Putman has said, we can’t separate the teachings of Jesus from the methods of Jesus and expect to get the results of Jesus. In other words, Jesus’ way of making disciples is the best way to do it. Jesus explicitly invited the disciples to follow Him, it’s enough for us to be like Him (Luke 6:40).
Trust me, an invitation into a discipling relationship doesn’t have to make things weird or contentious. Covert disciple making often ends in disappointment, frustration, and misunderstanding. Experience has shown me five reasons why explicit invitation is absolutely necessary.
• Without an invitation the disciple can’t count the cost to actively grow towards multiplication (John 12:24). Instead of asking them to seek God and trust Him to help them in the decision and process, they just engage you as a friend or mentor.
• Without an invitation the disciple can’t intentionally observe and experience how disciple making is different from friendship or mentoring. An invitation allows the disciple to move through every step of the process with her eyes open. She will be thinking about how she will do it with another someday.
• Without an invitation the disciple can’t own the process. Instead he will take the role of consumer and assume the interaction is for his enjoyment or growth. But disciple making isn’t primarily about the one you are discipling, it’s about impacting the Kingdom through him.
• Without an invitation the disciple won’t reproduce. Since she hasn’t prayerfully said yes to becoming a disciple maker, she normally won’t have interest in helping another. Leaving this ask to the end can also result in relational tension because she didn’t know you would expect her to do the same.
• Without an invitation the disciple can’t see the vision you are inviting him into. The vision of disciple making is powerful. It can satisfy the deepest longings God placed in each person. An invitation is one of the first opportunities to begin imparting that vision.
As a rookie disciple maker, fear and uncertainty are near-constant companions. But fear not, God is with you! Inviting someone into a disciple making relationship is one of the first opportunities to step out in faith and see that God is with you. HERE is how I invite someone into a disciple making relationship. I’ve found it simple and effective. If you’re unsure how to start, give it a try.
One last thing, remember that Jesus is with you as you go. Allow the process of becoming a disciple maker draw you closer to Him!
By Justin Gravitt. Used by permission.
Justin Gravitt is the Dayton (Ohio) Area Director for Navigator Church Ministries. Read more from Justin at his blog, One Disciple to Another, where this article first appeared.