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March 19, 2016

#MakeDisciples ThatMakeDisciples Part 2

By Rob Berreth

Chris Weibull

This is the second part of a multi-part series on some top tips and best practices when it comes to making, maturing and multiplying disciples. You can see the first three tips here. Here are three more tips on making disciples that make disciples and planting churches that plant churches.

Tip 4: Start with what’s right, not what’s wrong

In our church we work really hard by God’s grace, to cultivate a Gospel culture. A place where, as Jared Wilson said, “the Gospel oxygenates the air.” So, in order to be a grace soaked culture we have become really legalistic with how we work on what’s wrong with people. We ALWAYS start with what’s right, not with what’s wrong. In the context of making disciples, this means we begin with evidences of God’s grace. We look first to how we can highlight His work and focus on what He is doing in the life of one of His kids. Here are a few ways that works out and some of the benefits:

  • When someone you are discipling confesses sin the first thing you do is run to them not recoil. As much as you may be angry or frustrated that this person you have given so much time to is yet again in sin—perhaps derailing the timing of a new plant—you don’t get angry and instead you show compassion. What’s right in this situation is that they have confessed. What’s right is God’s generous grace and His warm reception of a returning sinner. We can start with that.
  • After any and every assessment (preaching, theological exam, monitored counseling session, etc) one of the first questions are: “What is God affirming in you?” This allows the focus to be on God and what He is doing as opposed to what could have been improved. We get to that, we just don’t start with it.
  • By starting with what’s right we are always starting with God who is the author and giver of all that’s right. When we focus on what’s right we always get to God. If we start with what’s wrong we may never get past ourselves.
  • By starting with what’s right, people feel built up, not beat up.

Tip 5: Love people enough to know them, so that you know them enough to rebuke them

Don’t get me wrong, you can rebuke people you don’t really know; it can even be effective. For example, if you are reading this blog when you should actually be talking to your spouse or playing with your kids, repent! But ‘relation-less’ rebukes are often less effective and needlessly harsh. Here are a few things that happen when you actually know and love the people you are disciplining:

  • You will know what needs to be rebuked. If you don’t see their marriages, conflicts, the way they spend money, parent their children, what they watch on Netflix, and more, how will you know what needs to be confronted?
  • You will rebuke with as much empathy, compassion, and mercy as possible. It’s fairly easy to blast strangers. But, when you know their stories, their struggles, their personality, you will come with a velvet hammer not a wrecking ball. There is no gloating. Just grief for sin and reminders of grace. ‘Relation-less’ rebukes bring a machete to do a job that only requires a scalpel. True friends come with tears, a hopeful heart, and carefully chosen words.
  • You will actually rebuke. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” When you know and love people you become their friends. You care about them. You care about their families. You care enough to actually be honest. Why? Because you love them and are unwilling to not speak up when you see patterns of sin that are harming them.
  • People will actually listen. My assistant rebuked me last week in my office. He told me that he has seen a pattern of harshness with my wife. His words stung. His words are sadly true. I hope I would have listened to anyone, but because I know of his love and care for me as a friend, I was that much more receptive to what he said. The deeper the relationship, the deeper the trust as you delve into sin.

Tip 6: You are not more loved if you make more disciples

I’ll make this tip brief, but it’s probably the most important one. Making disciples is really hard. Things don’t always ever go the way you want or think they should. You may find yourself in a spot where after thousands of hours of time and energy, the people that you have longingly cared for, prayed for, and wept with, are the ones who malign you, ignore you, forget you, and disrespect you. Or, perhaps they just don’t really grow. Relax. God loves you. The Great Commission isn’t yours alone to carry out. No matter how many, or how few disciples you make and multiply, or churches you plant that plant, God’s love won’t change. His unfailing, unquenchable, unbreakable, unmovable, unshakable love, won’t change. Remember this when things go well, or things go poorly. And then take a nap.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob Berreth

Rob Berreth (@robberreth) planted Redeemer Church in Bellingham, WA in 2007. He has served as a pastor in churches ranging from a few dozen to 3,500. Rob has been involved in three church plants, two as a core member leading music, and one as a lead pastor. He holds a Master of Divinity from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Rob and his wife Kati have four children, two red heads, a daughter from China and a son from Ethiopia.

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