Monday, March 07, 2011

Rethinking How Disciples Are Made—Part 2

I picked up my fifteen year old son from school. When he got into the car, he announced, "I can drive now."

Having been through this before with his older sister, I saw the teachable moment and tried to lean into it. "Just because the state of Illinois gives you a permit and says you can now start driving with your parents in no way means that you can actually drive."

Unrelenting, my son spit back, "I'm a great driver."

Just as unrelenting, I shot back, "Driving the riding lawn mower at home in the yard and driving a car between the lines without actually hitting another car, stationary object, or a person are two different things."

"But I took a test in Driver's Ed today and passed. See, I'm a great driver," he affirmed—with a hint of indignation in his tone of voice.

"Passing a written driving test in a classroom in no way whatsoever means that you can actually drive a real car on a real road with other real cars around you. Really."

Then he threw down the challenge. He played the ace in his hand. He called me out AND called me an old man. "What's wrong old man? Afraid my driving is better than yours?"

The teacher/trainer in me kicked in. You see, when the learner is not getting the obvious point, the teacher/trainer may opt for drastic measures. There is a time to call his bluff and attempt to bring him back to reality. I calmly pulled the car over into a McDonald's parking lot. Put it into park. Got out and walked around to the passenger side front door. Opened it and said, "Let's go Mr. World's-Greatest-Driver-whose-never-actually-driven-a-car-before. Show me what you've got."

He looked stunned, but he quickly got out his seat and situated himself behind the driver's side of the car. He adjusted the seat, the mirrors, and fascended his seatbelt. So far so good. Then he stopped for a moment and looked down at the floor. After a long, quiet, pregnant pause, he looked up at me with complete seriousness and said, "Now which one of these pedals is the brake?"

I wished I was making this story up.

My prayer life has never been better.

What in the world does this true story have to do with rethinking the way disciples are made?

Think about it.  Now YOU tell me what YOU think this story has to do with rethinking how disciples are made.

Click the comment link below and speak your heart and mind. I'm listening...

For a FREE resource you can use to think this issue through with others, GO HERE.


cmcgill said...


This is funny, sad, and true all at the same time.

How many times do we give them the info and expect them gain experience on their own. It just doesn't happen that way and that's the way so much of discipleship happens.

This happens in schools, in the church, and increasingly... in the family.

Where does this model come from?

BTW, I hope you've received the coffee by now. Please enjoy!

Mateo said...

I think this is a great example of how we should disciple. He had the opportunity to test out his "knowledge" in a safe environment. Thankfully, I've had that in my ministry experience as well. I've been on staff as an associate pastor for 4 years and in that time have spoken and lead in all of our regular meetings. I even get to "preach" on Sunday morning multiple times a year... and am so blessed for the experience. I look back at the first few times I spoke and pray that people were sleeping because I was lousy, ha. But I've been given the opportunity to test the waters in a safe environment, which is what the body coming together should be about. Unfortunately, I know a number of guys I went to school with who have yet to have the opportunity to get their feet wet in a "Sunday service" type of setting. The church should be about practical training and allowing people to learn how to minister in a safe environment, but in my admittedly short and young experience, that has not been the case. Sunday is viewed as the pinnacle of our week as opposed to the launching pad. Ok. Gettin off the soapbox. Gimme a day or two and I'll put more on my response blog. God bless.

ken said...

I can't comment on the Discipleship issue but, after reading that exchange with Billy, I am rethinking our "professional" relationship. :-) When does that young man turn 16?

Jeff said...

I took one of our deacons to the jail with me. He followed me around the security desk, past the "leave all weapons here" boxes, through the HUGE steel door with tiny window opening, and into a room with a phone on each side of some really thick (and they say) indestructible glass. On the way out we talked about how that experience went for him...

He told me he was pretty comfortable, because "He knew that I knew what I was doing."

A week later he went back without me. Now, you can't keep him from visiting in-mates...

Sooner or later you have to get out of the boat...

Bill Allison said...

cmcgill: DId you send the coffee to Cadre Sycamore IL address? If so, I did get the coffee... if not... I didn't!

mateo:You do indeed have a ministry situation that gets discipleship in the spirit and manner of Jesus... and that's just one of the reason I love you, your father, and Cornerstone Fellowship in Arthur IL!

Ken: October 2nd.... and I must be more careful about our car adventures... since I know my favorite insurance pal is reading! I will deny all of this post in a court of law... but hope I don't have to... : )

Jeff: Would it be safe to say that he is BETTER at jail ministry than you? Hmmmm.... that would be VERY Jesus like discipleship...

Jeff said...


I think in this county He probably is...

but I've spent an awfully large amount of time in various jails... :# though he is older, I may be more experienced...

BTW - my word verification is enokk (he walked with God) is that a discipleship link?) And yes, I know it is spelled diffeently "mr teacher!"

ypjim said...

Like cmcgill already said - the church is one of the worst at communicating this is be best form of discipleship. Here's a thought - if your son decided to play baseball - I seriously doubt he would have the same attitude - all I have to do is take a test and now I can play baseball. So why does he think that's true with driving?

The obvious implication is we need to spend MUCH more time doing discipleship with kids as well as allowing them to fail in thier following of Christ. This is a great illustration.

I have one question for you. I have been wrestling with epistimology - especially one that claims the only way we can truley "know" something is with the mind. (This is the predominant epistimology of my evangelical world) But my experience is that LARGE majority of students don't (and often can't) truly "get it" until the experience the truth with both thier mind AND heart. Your thoughts?

Bill Allison said...

Jeff... I see you have had two kinds of jail ministry... one as a visiting pastor and one as a... let's just say, "an insider."

Bill Allison said...

ypjim... I am equally concerned about modernity's "you can only know via reason" as I am about post modernity's "it's all about experience." I don't think it's either or. I think it's both and.... love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strong....

Jesus taught/trained 12 verbally... and through the experience of doing life with him. BOTH.

My two cents.

Rich Gerberding said...

Reading and studying anything doesn't make you that. You can't just read about prayer, at some point you must pray. You can't just read or listen to others sing and be a worshipper.

As to discipleship, I'll never forget at the 2006 National Coalition of Men's Ministries when speaker after speaker said "Discipleship is not a curriculum," and then in the breaks we visited booth after booth selling curriculum.

One church actually told me "We're doing great with discipleship. We actually have several people about ready to take the 3rd level discipleship class.

It's about living lives together, teaching when you can, learning when you can, and realizing that often the learning and teaching is simultaneous.