It Started with Lunch and a Game of Horseshoes
The enemy of God wants us to believe disciple making is best left to “religious experts.” He capitalizes on our doubts and fears, keeping most on the sidelines and out of the game. It doesn’t have to be this way! Making disciples really is as simple as putting ourselves in “purposeful proximity” to others, building intentional relationships, and helping people discover the Biblical truth about Jesus.
Below is a story I’ve shared many times in equipping circles, one that illustrates the basic simplicity of how relational investment for Jesus can work. It took place well before Timothy Network was established. This and many similar experiences and stories like it, however, gave impetus for starting our work in 2005.
Whether pitching horseshoes, quilting, golfing, hiking, scrap-booking, motorcycling, softball, having people into your home for meals, etc – any activity that provides an enjoyable and non-threatening way of spending time with people can be an opportunity for disciple making. Try it and see God work!
Kent came to church with his girlfriend. He didn’t have much to say and was very shy. Still, he came with her week after week and we gradually became acquainted.
After his freshman year at the University of Illinois, Kent took a job painting houses and remained in town for the summer. I invited him to meet for lunch one day. He accepted and we met at Subway near Carle Park in Urbana. There happened to be horseshoe pits in the park, so we completed the lunch hour by pitching a few games. This began weekly meetings that continued all that summer.
Kent had good questions about God and the Bible, so we ate, pitched, and talked. I continued meeting with him over the next two semesters, and he joined us on a campus ministry Spring Break service project in inner city Houston. We roomed together and had several good talks during that trip. Shortly after our return to Illinois, he called one night to say, “I’m ready to ‘put on my walking shoes.'” I’ll never forget the way he put it. Kent was ready to give his life to Christ, but he understood the initial steps of belief, confession, repentance, and baptism were only the beginning. He had taken time to listen and investigate, and he was ready to begin walking with Jesus.
I’ve followed Kent’s life over the years. He now serves as Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at Midwestern University in the greater Chicago area. He’s pictured below with his wife, Julie, and twin daughter and son whom they are raising to be disciples of Jesus.
God has equipped each of us with unique gifts for sharing our faith and making disciples. You don’t have to be an “expert” or “extrovert,” but it is necessary to care about people. Pray (a lot) and be intentional about building Christ-centered relationships. Be purposeful in finding ways to spend time with people. God can and will make you a fisher of people!