I hate to admit this. I have made this mistake three different times. Each time it happened after I had been assigned to a new campus. The first time the mistake could have been expected. The second and third times, well, that was my own fault.
What was my mistake? At the beginning of a new school year I simply began discipling the first students in the ministry who expressed need. I thought I was being helpful and loving these students. All three times I ended the school year with very emotionally needy or fun-loving students, but not with whole-hearted disciples of Christ. What went wrong?
Movement-Killer #1 – Hasty (or No) Selection
“…and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. And when day came, He called his disciples to Him; and chose twelve of them…” Luke 6:12-13
“It does not matter how many we enlist for the cause, but how many conquer for Christ. That is why all along our emphasis must be upon quality of life. If we get the right quality of leadership, the rest will follow; if we do not get it, the rest have nothing worth following.”
-Robert E Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism
My problem was that I lacked the foresight and courage to realize: If I commit myself fully to this small group of 5-8 students right now, then I am consciously making a choice to say “no” to the other 20,000 students on my campus for the rest of the year.
I observed wiser and more successful friends do three things to help avoid this mistake.
1. They prayed. They spent extended time in prayer, like Jesus did, before selecting any students to invite into an ongoing discipleship relationship.
2. They took their time. They did not rush to “get a group.” They kept sharing their faith and doing basic follow up through November and December. They invited faithful believers to the weekly fellowship. They brought them to retreats and invited them to pray. BUT they had the wisdom to wait on God, observe their behavior over time, and let God bring more new believers into the movement before selecting and committing themselves to a few.
3. They avoided…
Movement-Killer #2… Filling Their Schedule with 1-1 Appointments.
Yep, nothing helps justify our existence more than staying busy with a full schedule. And few behaviors ultimately kill a genuine movement more stealthily than regular 1-1 appointments.
Sometimes it seems like the weekly 1-1 ministry appointment is a hallowed requirement. Why is that? When I study Jesus’ three years of ministry, I cannot find a single time that he met 1-1 with any of his 12 disciples after calling them to follow Him. I’m not saying that Jesus never had personal time with a disciple, simply that the 1-1 discipleship appointment was not part of his core development strategy for his men. He met in 2’s, 3’s, small groups and larger groups. He confronted disciples in front of each other. Anyway, it seems odd that the greatest movement builder of all time did not incorporate the weekly 1-1 into his strategy. Go figure.
Why can 1-1 appointments kill movements?
Leadership Challenge: If you can find Jesus having a 1-1 appointment with any of his 12 disciples, please post a reply. I’ll buy you a dinner. Seriously.