Bullseye Discipleship – Time

bullseye time

We think it takes four quality meetings a week to hit the discipleship bullseye. Wow! That’s a lot of time! But don’t give up. Keep reading. I’ve already written about the importance of time in the discipleship process but let’s look at some specifics. Remember, you can only do this with a few disciples. You can help many but focus on a few. If you focus on everyone, you are focused on no one.





Deb and I have found that 3 to 4 touches a week are the key to healthy discipleship. One touch would be our corporate family meeting with other disciples. Another should be an accountability time (A-Teams / Huddles). Two more can be casual times of eating a meal, having coffee, or a fun activity together. (We found that some of the most meaningful discussions happen spontaneously in the normal course of life). Notice I didn’t designate any one of these as church. To us, it’s ALL church.




But it’s not just the amount of time that makes the difference. It’s also the quality of time. Quality begins with “thought.” In Hebrews we are commanded to “…consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” (Heb 10.24) Forethought leads to intentional effective discipleship. I’ve heard people say, “I don’t have an agenda in my discipleship.” Jesus did and every good disciple-maker will as well. Our agenda is to stimulate our fellow disciples to love and good deeds. Our ultimate goal is to help people connect with Jesus in such a way they become like Him (Mat 10:24-25, Rom 8:28-29, 1Jn 2:6).


I love the illustration Mark from OKC uses to show the dynamics between the disciple-maker and the disciple. We start as heralds of good news pointing people to Jesus. As wise disciple-makers, we say with the Apostle Paul, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1Cor 11:1) But the disciple-maker keeps pointing to Jesus as the primary Disciple-maker throughout the process. See Mark’s video for further explanation. (Click here for video)

Two Tips for More Time


But finding time to get 3-4 touches a week is quite challenging for many busy people. Two practical tips will help you find the time.


  1. Multiply your efforts. There are things that you already do on a routine basis; meals, shopping, household chores, kids activities, road trips, vacations, etc… Bring those you are discipling along with you. (Mark 3.14) You’d be surprised at the depth of discussion that can happen during some of these mundane events.


  1. Say no to something good. Most of us know how to fill our plates with good stuff but only a few of us know how to fill our plates with the best stuff. Everyone gets 24 hours a day. The question is “How will you use them?” What will you say no to and to what will you say yes? We need to see “No” as a strategic response and say yes to discipleship.


Call to Action: Make a list of things you will say “no” to in order to get 3-4 meetings with a few disciples you are focused on this week.


A Blast from the Past: What are we building?


So What?


I’ve described the difference between the advisor, coach, and mentor. I’ve also established that Jesus did all three and that all three are important in the disciple-making process. So what’s the big deal? Well, nothing unless you’ve experienced a mentoring relationship! Those of us who have been and had mentors know that it makes a huge difference in people’s Christ-like transformation. My whole purpose in writing these posts is to aggressively recruit you to become a mentor versus just an advisor or a coach. Let me give you three reasons why my hair is on fire about this.


  1. Advice alone is not leading to life transformation.


Advisors are a dime a dozen. And I’m not talking about people giving bad advice. I’m talking about good advice! We have great folks preaching sermons, writing books (and blogs), making videos, and these pillars of sound direction will even sit down and have a cup of coffee with you (occasionally). But with all these Giants of Guidance giving a giant volume of advice, we still have a giant gap between the amount of information people know and what they are able and/or willing to do. Advice alone is not facilitating individual, corporate, or cultural change.  


  1. Coaching alone is not enough relationship to sustain life transformation.


Although there are probably not as many coaches as advisors, it seems like everybody and their brother is training people in new methods of ministry. In fact, the landscape is so dense, that people roll their eyes when they hear about another program (including #NoPlaceLeft). But before I come down too hard on the coach, let me say again that coaching is essential. The problem comes when the coach is not vested in the trainee’s life and they hit obstacles that are not associated with the ministry skills being taught. People’s lives consist of much more than becoming competent and confident in ways to do ministry.


  1. Mentoring is a holistic approach to the disciple’s life


A friend recently asked me this question; How do you cast vision? He rattled off some of the more conventional ways leaders try to lift up people’s eyes to stretch them toward a “kingdom” mentality versus a “me” mentality. My answer was anything but conventional. I said, “You have to walk with people in the vision in order for them to get it. And this is precisely what a mentor does with a mentee in virtually every area of life; they walk with them. They walk with them as they journey through the ups and downs of ministry, their personal relationship with Jesus, and even the mundane stuff of life. A mentor has agreed to lock arms with you and “do life” together. I like what Amos says;


Two people will not walk together unless they have agreed to do so.

(Amos 3.3)


It’s that simple. You, the mentor, have agreed to walk with someone for the purpose of discipleship.


Now that I have you signing the dotted line in blood, I want to spend the next few blog posts describing some key principles for mentoring using the Bull’s Eye Illustration.

Call to Action: Who have you agreed to walk with? Do they know that your objective is to help them become conformed to the image of Christ? Ask them what that means to them.



Jesus Wore All Three Hats

3 hats 3.png

Was Jesus an advisor, coach, or a mentor?

The answer, Yes! He wore all three hats.

Jesus was an advisor. Now this one’s a little tricky. Generally, when we think of an advisor we think of one who gives guidance and it’s optional to follow it. Here’s how Google defines advice;

“Guidance or recommendations concerning prudent future action, typically given by someone regarded as knowledgeable or authoritative.”

Can you think of anyone more knowledgeable or authoritative than Jesus?  If He gave guidance, wouldn’t you eagerly embrace whatever He said? But He didn’t give recommendations or suggestions. His advice was always true, right, and with God’s glory at the forefront. Of course, there were those who didn’t take his advice and they paid dearly for their lack of judgment. What do you do when someone’s guidance is 100% accurate 100% of the time? You take their advice! But as authoritative as Jesus is, you still have a choice.

But Jesus was also a coach? Remember the 70? They weren’t as close as the 12 but He trained them in ministry skills nonetheless. He sent them out to search for the person of peace and even debriefed them when they returned. Of course, He did the same with the 12 but here’s the difference; He didn’t spend near as much time with the 70 as He did with the 12. This is the clarifying difference in my definition between coach and mentor. The 70 were close enough to Jesus to see Him modeled the skills, assist and watch them as they practiced the skills, and then launched them to perform the skills on their own. So Jesus’ example of coaching is evidence you can train disciples in ministry skills without being their mentor.

Now when it comes to the 12, He was clearly a mentor. Jesus was involved with every aspect of their life.  He instructed, encouraged, exhorted, and rebuked them as needed. When you consider the sheer amount of time they spent together, there is little doubt Jesus knew them well and He loved them extravagantly. He was always asking them great questions. He was patient with their weaknesses. He protected them like a good shepherd. He healed their family members. He covered them with the Word and quote.pngwas committed to them until the end. And ultimately, He was their perfect example. He was their pathfinder leading the way on how to walk with God. No one was closer to Jesus and got more tailored instruction than the 12.

Here’s the kicker. Every disciple has the opportunity to have Jesus as their advisor, coach and/or mentor because of the indwelling Holy Spirit. So let me ask this question; “Do we want Jesus to just give us advise? Or do we just want Him to coach us on ministry skills? Or do we want Him to be involved in the whole of our lives as our mentor?” It’s our choice.

Call to Action: Spend some time in prayer asking Jesus for guidance, coaching, and mentoring. Read through the Gospel of Luke and identify the three hats that Jesus wore.

A Blast from the Past: Don’t Be a Ministry Hog


Quote: https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2000/spring/how-to-be-an-effective-mentor.html

Mentor Mayhem – Advisors, Coaches, and Mentors


I’m feeling a little guilty. I’ve been allowing people to call me their mentor when really I was more of a coach or advisor.

What’s the difference?


An advisor gives advice. It’s periodic. There’s no requirement for the advisor to understand much beyond the particular problem presented by the advisee. We need advisors but let’s not confuse them with mentors.


A coach is someone who helps a disciple with a particular set of skills. And just like a baseball coach, they focus on the skills we need to succeed. After practice or a game, they go their separate ways to live their separate lives. Needed? Yes! Mentor? No!


A mentor, on the other hand, is quite a different animal. Yes, they are a combination of advisor and coach but he or she is a whole lot more. They are spiritual leaders who watch over your soul (Heb 13.17). They concern themselves with the whole of your life. It’s one of the heaviest and most rewarding responsibilities a disciple maker can ever be given. I have a lot to say when it comes to describing a mentor, but the bottom line is that they love you intensely, know you thoroughly, and can effectively help you become more like Jesus. This is quite a bit more than giving advice or teaching ministry skills.

But here’s the problem. As much as we need mentors of this caliber in our lives, they are rare. Part of the reason they are so few is that a lot of disciples have never had a mentor themselves and don’t even know where to begin. Another issue is that mentors often take on too many mentees and lose their potency (guilty!). No one wants to be the guy to hold someone back in their development, so saying no is gut-wrenching. On the other hand, if you don’t say no, you rob those you are already leading. Smart mentors limit the number of people they work with in order to be effective.

Some of you may be wondering, “With the bar so high, how can I ever be a mentor?” Everyone has to start somewhere, and mentoring is a learned skill just like anything else. Hopefully, you have a good mentor, and you can follow their example. But many of you don’t and will have to do a little OJT (On the Job Training). Realistically, I only have the capacity to mentor 5-8 people. So, I’m going to put on my advisor’s hat and write for a while on what it means to be a mentor. Hopefully, this advisor can get a few more mentors in the fight.

*My definitions.

Call to Action: Make a list of people you think you can mentor. Begin praying through how you will begin the relationship. If you can’t think of anyone, begin praying that God will give you someone.

Blast from the Past: My First Mentor

Barna Quote: https://www.barna.com/research/5-reasons-millennials-stay-connected-to-church/


Where’s the Time Going?


Some people have estimated that Jesus spent 10,000 hours with the disciples during His three-year ministry. That’s a little over 9 hours a day. Some days were much longer than that! Jesus taught them, hung out with them at weddings, went fishing with them, ate with them, weathered the storms with them, and went on road trips with them. He lived life with them.side lable

And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach… (Mark 3.14)

But here’s the problem. We are married with kids, have full-time jobs, and have other responsibilities that Jesus didn’t have (not to mention a million distractions we allow to strangle our discretionary time). Some of these time commitments are unavoidable and some are self-inflicted wounds. We need to establish our priorities in order to disciple a few people. We need to get creative and multiply our time.

Deb and I have been making disciples for almost 40 years. We’ve multiplied our time by taking young disciples to our sons’ football and soccer games with us. We invited them to meals. It could be as grand as vacationing with them or as simple as bringing them along on a trip to the hardware store. There were seasons where we were getting together four times a week. But the way to spend the most quality time with them was to move disciples into our home. Challenging? You bet! Inconvenient? At times.  But it was worth every minute of investment in their lives.

You don’t have to move people into your home but here’s the reality; disciple-makers need to find the time to spend with the folks they’re discipling or it won’t go well. Plain and simple. Disciples need mentors that take responsibility for their spiritual growth. Here’s a simple guideline for the time disciples need during the various seasons of life. Notice how time may increase or decrease based on the needs of the season of life and spiritual development.

Time chart 2

Call to Action: Write down the names of 1-3 disciples that you will spend quality time with. Now think through the everyday events. Now invite them to join you.


Blast from the Past – How to start a disciple-making ministry – First be a Disciple

The Three Become Nine (1-3-9)

the 9

Now there are Nine! These are teetering on the precipice, the tipping point for the movement. This is validation that the One has done a good job with the Three. The proof that the Three has done a good job with you is that you are able to reproduce the life of Jesus in others. The baton is in your hands. You have the same intense pursuit of godly character, audacious vision, and dependence on the Holy Spirit. You are the tip of the spear. The movement rests on your shoulders and God willing it will spread to the nations.

You may or may not know the One. You may or may not know all of the Three. But one person you do know is Jesus the Christ. You are committed to the next generation of disciples and churches that will cover the globe and are connected like a chain until the Savior returns. And you know with certainty that the task cannot be finished without the help of others. You will communicate, collaborate, and cooperate with the efforts of the greater body of Christ. You realize that the souls of men and women are at stake; not only in your oikos but in your neighborhood, your city, country, the darkest corners of the earth.

You are in sync with the Father’s heart. You will move forward with complete confidence that you can be the One and do the same with your Three Timothys who will reach the Nine. You are now part of a viral movement of the gospel that has been spanning the globe for over 2000 years. But we are not done.  It’s time to finish the task and obey the Great Commission until there is #NoPlaceLeft. Be strong and courageous! Jesus is with you every step of the way.

Now there are NINE!

Call to Action: Send a boomerang question to the nine. Something like; Did you meet with your Timothys this week? It starts by going from the One through the Three and finally to the Nine and returns through the Three back to the One. Now you have opened a generational communication channel to ask more questions!


You are the One (Part 1)

Focus on the 3 (Part 2)

The Three Become Nine (Part 3)


Focus on the Three (1-3-9)

the 3

You may help many but you focus on the Three. The beginning of multiplying disciples, churches, and leaders. Some of them have come into the faith recently, others have been walking with Jesus for a while. They’ve entrusted their lives to you as a mentor having observed your life and will imitate your faith as you watch over their souls. They will follow you as you follow Christ. But they are not blind followers. You have stressed over and over again, their ultimate authority is the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. They are committed to being faithful, available, teachable, and reproducing.

Together, you strive toward being a healthy church. You are family. Your fellowship is encouraging, challenging, and frequent. Together you are in the harvest, loving people, making disciples, imitating Jesus and His followers. You thrive under the influence of one another’s gifts, talents, and abilities. You celebrate each other’s differences. Instead of competing with one another, you serve one another. You’ve covenanted to speak the truth in love with one another in forbearance and patience. You are one another’s biggest cheerleaders. You are a microcosm of what the whole Body of Christ should look like. One team, one mission, one Lord.       

The Three will be the mentors to the Nine. They are the conduit to the next generation. As you have modeled truth and grace in their midst, your labor will not be in vain.  They will teach others to abide richly in Christ, share the gospel, and live out the Word. They pray in total dependence on the Holy Spirit and deeply love those whom God has entrusted to them. Through the highs and lows of ministry, they will persevere in all circumstances. They are compelled to pass the life of Christ on to others who will do the same. They will be fruitful and multiply.

You are focused on the THREE.

Call to Action: Identify your mentor. Ask them to invest in your life at least weekly. Be faithful, available, teachable, and reproducing. Identify your three. Commit to meeting with them at least weekly.

You are the One (Part 1)

Focus on the 3 (Part 2)

The Three Become Nine (Part 3)


You are the One (1-3-9)


So you’re the one! You really believe the Great Commission is not a suggestion but a command for every believer to obey. You’re the one who wants to see the glory of God cover the earth, and you’ve got a vision for reaching the nations by multiplying disciples, churches, and spiritual leaders. You’re the one who knows the way forward. You help a lot of people but in order to multiply your efforts, you focus your mentoring on a few. You’re the one with faith like an apostle, tenacity like a prophet, and love like a shepherd.

You’re the one who studied the words and ways of Jesus as if your life depended on them. You’re compelled to pass them on to others because you know they’re true; they’re life. This is not your 40-minute sermon; it’s your every minute reality. You live in obedience to your Master and as a model for your Timothys to imitate. You say with the Apostle Paul, “Follow me as I follow Christ!”

You may or may not have had a mentor but you are ready to stand in the gap and to be a mentor for others. You learned from the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures, and you will go it alone if that’s what it takes. You’re the one who will labor tirelessly until Christ is formed in the next generation. This is not only your heritage but your passion. Your lineage must experience the love of Jesus the same way you did (or even better). To this end, you will work night and day, blood, sweat, and tears until you meet Jesus face to face. You’ll pay whatever it costs. Your goal, in the end, is to hear His words, “Well done My good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of Your Master.”

So, you are the ONE!

Call to Action: Pray and ask Jesus to make you a better disciple-maker. What are three things you can do right now to be a better mentor?


You are the One (Part 1)

Focus on the 3 (Part 2)

The Three Become Nine (Part 3)


For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12)

A young disciple asked me an excellent question: “Is the Great Commission an individual or corporate responsibility?” To which I answered, “Yes”! None of us has all the gifts and abilities needed to thoroughly disciple others. That’s why we are to function as the Body of Christ. Together, we become like Jesus in the fullest sense and can disciple others more effectively. That’s one of our primary tasks as the “
Ekklesia” (the assembly, the church). I have benefited tremendously, both in being discipled and in making disciples in the context of the Body. I call it “discipleship by the village”. But the assembly must understand that this is one of their chief functions before God. Are you assembling with those who have a vision for the Great Commission and are they able to train and empower others for the sake of making disciples corporately? It works a lot better together!


“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19)

My son clumsily walked into the living room sporting his little camouflage uniform and my combat boots. It was hilarious to see those huge boots on a four-year-old boy who wanted to be just like his dad. But as cute as it was, he was having an awful time walking. That perfectly illustrates some limitations of imitation. It’s not only important to figure out how to be like Jesus. It’s just as important to understand areas we will never be like Jesus. God may not expect you to be single all your life, wander the countryside of Palestine, have long hair and wear sandals, and live only 33 years. It’s important to identify the principles of becoming like Jesus and not just the forms. Attributes like compassion, obedience to the Father, introducing others to God, prayer, depth in God’s Word, etc., are principles we can all imitate. As we carefully read the Scriptures, we should ask this question,How can I become like Jesus and practice the principles He modeled?”