Disciple making not about what Christians do but ‘who they are’

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

Warren Haynes said disciple making isn’t what Christians do — it’s who they are.

“Whether we have one conversation or multiple conversations with someone, we ought to use it in a way that moves them a little closer to Jesus,” he said.

Haynes — national director of contextualized leadership development for Gateway Seminary in Ontario, California, and author of “Discipleship Uncomplicated” — was the guest speaker at a Disciple Making Ministries dinner held June 11 at Fultondale First Baptist Church. The event was hosted by Disciple Making Ministries, a pastor network co-sponsored by Daniel Edmonds and Larry Hyche at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

“The idea of the network is to facilitate pastors walking together so they have someone to call on for encouragement in making disciples personally and leading their churches by their lives,” Edmonds said, noting that the network includes around 150 pastors meeting in pastor huddles in Alabama and beyond.

The June 11 event was a way for pastors to get together, hang out and hear from someone seen as an expert in the field.

Haynes offered some practical ways to build relationships for the purpose of sharing the gospel, including:

Remember people by name.

Haynes said that’s the first thing you can do to change your foundational relationship with another person. When he meets people at stores, businesses or anywhere, he puts each name and a note about where he met the person in his iPhone’s Reminders app. Then he hits the info button and tells it to remind him about that person when he arrives at that location.

This helps him remember to pray and to look for another opportunity to interact with them by name, he said.

“It’s really important to remember people’s names,” Haynes said. “When someone forgets our name we kind of feel like they forgot us.”

The simple act of remembering could lead to a changed life, he said.

Pray for God to protect people.

Sometimes breakthroughs happen when you pray for people’s protection or provision. For example someone may recount a story of how he or she narrowly missed being in an accident and you can share with that person how you’ve been praying specifically for his or her safety.

“Sometimes prayer is the only thing that’s going to make a difference,” Haynes said. “I pray God will protect people, that God will provide for them and that they will come to know Jesus.”

Share your stories.

Ask questions of other people, listen to their stories and then share yours when asked, Haynes said. You can tell stories about how God has done things in your life and in the context of your story “you can plant truth in people’s lives and they can’t get mad at you,” he said.

Ken Allen, associational missions director for DeKalb Baptist Association, said Haynes’ encouraged him.

“We in the church have a tendency to make disciple making too complicated,” he said. “Dr. Haynes made disciple making look simple — know someone’s name, make a list of people you are most likely to influence and pray for them.”

Gathering together with other pastors from around the state was encouraging too, Allen said.

‘Grassroots level’

“You cannot help but be excited about church leaders meeting to discuss making disciples,” he said. “I love how this movement is at the grassroots level. Pastors all over the state are seeing afresh the biblical mandate to make disciples.”

Marty Holley, associational missions director for Russell Baptist Association, said he attended the event because God is renewing his passion for disciple making.

Haynes “helped me more clearly see disciple making occurs ‘as we go,’” Holley said. “At times that will be brief encounters but will also be longer ongoing mutual spiritual investments with specific individuals.”

After the talk Haynes took part in a panel discussion with Andy Frazier, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Sumiton, and Mark Gainey, pastor of Fultondale First, moderated by Robert Mullins, pastor of Crossroads Community Church, Elmore. The men talked about what disciple making looks like for them personally.

For more information about Disciple Making Ministries, email dedmonds@alsbom.org.