Dear Discipleship-first Friends,
The past twelve months have revealed to us the true state of the church and the lives of many disciples of Jesus in North America. We have learned:
- We are too dependent on Sundays
- We are not focused enough on making disciples
- We are too enmeshed in politics
- Far too many are experiencing regular anger
- We need help discussing difficult cultural issues
We want to help. We believe a focus on disciples and disciple making is the key. So, we are announcing that the 2021 National Disciple Making Forum will be held November 4–5 in Nashville, Tennessee. Our theme will be:
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Church | Family | Personal
This conference calls disciples in North America to recalibrate what it means to be a disciple.
It’s always been costly, but many are feeling it now more than ever—even bracing for what might be coming.
Discipleship and disciple making activities have become anemic. Who we are and what we do is not sufficient for the challenges in front of us.
We must count the cost of discipleship in our churches, our families, and our personal walk.
Our churches need to refocus and disciple hearts and minds to help people count the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. We have lowered the bar on what we ask people to give to Jesus, hoping that it will help them feel less pressure—but doing so only brings them into knee-deep water.
But Christ calls us all in.
Given the challenges of our time, we need more disciples engaging in life by going into and coming up from the deep waters to engage the world.
At the 2021 National Disciple Making Forum, we will extend the call of Christ for today’s culture for churches to go …
- Deeper into Scripture
- Deeper into relationships
- Deeper into the Spirit
- Deeper into God’s mission
We will advocate for more gospel, more scripture, and more love so that we can raise up more holistic disciples.
Our families need to re-examine what it will take to raise children into adulthood as true disciples. Their challenges and their world are very different than what used to be.
Parents do not trust themselves to disciple their children anymore. At the Forum we will call families back to Deuteronomy 6:4–9, which is the original “great commission” given centuries before the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18–20.
At the forum, we will call parents to learn how to impress the things of Jesus on their children by …
- Talking about Jesus’ commands when we sit at home
- Talking about them while we walk along the road
- Talking about them when we lie down
- Talking about them when we get up
- Tying Jesus’ commands as symbols on our hands, our foreheads, and writing them on the doorframes of our houses and on our gates
We will advocate for more disciple making in the home—more intentionality, more relationship, more instruction, more mission, and more preparation for a rapidly changing world.
Our personal walk. We need help individually with all the challenges of a rapidly changing world.
We must move fully into the awareness that God has called us, not just to bear the name “Christian,” but to pick up our crosses and be disciples. Read through the New Testament and you will find the word “Christian” used only 3 times, but look for the word “disciple” and you will find it 296 times. This means the word “disciple” shows up 99 times more often than the word “Christian.” Here again is Jesus’ invitation to Peter and Andrew in Mark 1:17 (ESV):
“And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
By this one verse, we will call everyone to fully accept Jesus’ invitation in three critical ways:
- Follow Jesus (“Follow me”)
- Be changed by Jesus (“and I will make you become”)
- Join Jesus’ mission (“fishers of men”)
Everything the New Testament teaches about being a disciple can be categorized under these three elements.[i]
In addition to our main stage sessions (described above), we anticipate that around twenty national disciple making organizations will be leading tracks and there will be lots and lots of disciple making resources and connections. The tracks will be led by leaders like Jim Putman, Bill Hull, David Young, and others.
We will soon be announcing the main stage speakers, but first we are making this announcement and giving an explanation of our theme.
We believe that most will be free to attend the live event with COVID-19 vaccines being widespread and we will have modest precautions in place (more on that later).
We hope that the theme draws you in, and we sincerely hope you will join us.
This Disciple Making Forum will be important. Substantive. In-depth. Practical. Life-changing.
[i] For more information, see Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick, The Disciple Makers Handbook: Seven Elements of a Discipleship Lifestyle (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017)