Virtual disciple-making forum ‘encourages and equips’ believers to spread gospel

Virtual disciple-making forum ‘encourages and equips’ believers to spread gospel

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

What do cauliflower, podcasting and Amazon Prime have in common — and how does the answer affect disciple making?

Those were the first questions Daniel Im posed to the participants of the state’s first Virtual Disciple-Making Forum held April 27–28 via Zoom.

“These three things are examples of how quickly things are shifting in our society today,” said Im, author of “No Silver Bullets” and senior associate pastor at Beulah Alliance Church, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Cauliflower has become so popular that in a short span of time, Green Giant went from harvesting five acres of cauliflower a week to 30 acres of cauliflower a week. And several years ago, podcasting wasn’t widespread, and neither was Prime membership — but now many American households are subscribers to both.

Path of freedom

In a world that’s changing, it’s important to determine between fads and the realities that are sticking around, Im said. One reality he thinks won’t change anytime soon is the gig economy — the fact that 35% of the nation now earns money through self-employment or a side hustle.

“The gig economy promises a life of freedom and flexibility,” he said.

That reality matters to disciple making, Im said. For example, people who want control of their lives are reminded in times like the COVID-19 crisis that they aren’t in control, and they will hear with different ears what it means to have the peace of Christ holding their lives in His hands.

Im talked about how the gig economy, while offering opportunity, can speak lies to those who work in it. It tells them that if they’ll just work a few more hours or sell a few more things, they can have what they want.

“It’s a grind and hustle to keep up,” Im said. “It’s a fool’s game because you’re never going to catch up. Only following Jesus, that’s the path of true freedom.”

The forum, cosponsored by the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, featured Im along with Ken Adams, lead pastor at Crossroads Church in Newnan, Georgia, and founder/director of Impact Discipleship Ministries, and Scott Kindig, pastor of Kingdom Initiatives at Community Bible Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas.

All three men had been slated to speak at the state’s first disciple-making conference April 27–28, but the conference was moved to September 28–29 when social distancing measures were put in place in light of COVID-19.

Robert Mullins, pastor of Crossroads Community Church, Elmore, said he and the rest of the Disciple-Making Ministries of Alabama team decided it work to also offer an online forum on the original dates.

“We had the dates on the calendar and the relationships with the speaker/leaders, so we decided to see if they would be interested in having the Virtual Disciple-Making Forum,” he said. “They all agreed, and the results were fantastic. We are so glad we went ahead with doing the forum digitally on Zoom.”

Razor focus

Mullins said he thought the forum was “practical and relevant.”

“The speakers all challenged us to examine our lives and ask the question, ‘Are we making disciples like Jesus commanded?’ The Q&A portions of the forum were specifically helpful in the fact that the participants were able to interact and ask specific disciple-making questions of the leaders,” he said. “The information given allowed people to walk away from the forum encouraged and equipped.”

During his session, Adams encouraged participants to get razor-focused on their main purpose. In the midst of COVID-19, “the mission of making disciples has not been postponed, it has not been shut down,” he said.

Disciple makers should learn from Jesus, who never got derailed or detoured by the things happening around Him, he said. “You have to make the Great Commission a priority. You can live your life by pressure or priority. Decide that you want to live your life by the priority of the mission.”

In this season, look for people who are hungry — “guys who have a desire to want to grow,” he said. “Then carve out the time in your own life to spend time with them.”

Kindig said when disciple makers follow Jesus’ pattern, they will begin to see generations of disciples coming behind them.

“I know we can’t walk around with 12 people, but you can take the people around you,” he said.

It’s important to pass them information, but it’s also vital to get to know them and care for them emotionally, show them love and walk with them as they learn to go out and replicate that, Kindig said.

In many ways, though there are challenges, COVID-19 offers new opportunities to do that, he said.

“I’m able to get people in (discipleship) huddles now that I was never able to before because they were too busy,” Kindig said.

Being able to meet on Zoom also makes it possible to redeem a block of time that before would’ve required a two-way commute to meet up with someone. And it allows discipleship of parents who might be able to meet virtually from their home after their children are in bed, he said.

“I think God has given this to us as a gift,” Kindig said. “We have something that’s multipliable and scalable, and I think we need to see this as a gift from Jesus.”

The Alabama Baptist Discipleship Conference in September will feature the same three speakers. For more information, visit