Learn by Doing

I have a go to response over the years when anyone gives a compliment about my preaching. Essentially it is, go and thank the churches that had to listen to me learning to preach when I was younger. They are the ones who had to endure a young preacher who wasn’t sure when to stop talking or how to end a sermon. One who had not yet heard the rule of beginning with the ending in mind for instance.

We know the phrase, practice makes perfect. It is a tried and true axiom and applies to discipleship. The more we do the things that discipleship calls us to; the better we will get at doing them. No one starts out understanding their Bible flawlessly. I am pretty sure none of us end our days understanding it flawlessly either, but we definitely improve little by little as we do it.

The doing part of discipleship can sometimes be scary for the person who is leading a new disciple. There is concern for all of the ways something could go wrong. Let me free you up a bit of concern. Something is sure to go wrong at some point. Learning well often involves failure. I have never forgotten the advice to “begin with the end in mind,” thanks in large part to the ending of my very first sermon. I made all of the points on my outline and didn’t know what else to say, so I looked at the pastor who had allowed me to preach that Sunday night and said, “that’s all I have.” I didn’t know what to do in that moment, but I made sure I was better prepared the next time because of it.

We should always look for opportunities to let those we disciple have a safe place to fail and learn from those failures. We should look for ways to give those we disciple a place to succeed. Above all, we should look for ways to give them a place to learn as they do.

The Power of Repetition

There is a rabbinic saying about discipleship.

One who repeats his lesson a hundred times is not like him who repeats it a hundred and one times.

Chaggigah 9b

We seldom speak about the power of repetition in discipleship in my experience. I have been reminded of the importance of this simple truth several times recently. A few days ago, I was driving to preach at a church and had my daughter riding along with me. I was scanning the radio and a song from the 90s was playing. I recognized the tune and so I stopped in order to sing along and make my daughter groan a bit. I quickly realized I couldn’t remember very many of the words despite knowing that I had heard that song a bunch years ago. I was sure I knew some of the lyrics but nothing sounded right.

Until the last verse played. Suddenly, I knew every single word. Then they repeated the verse again.

And again.

And again one last time for good measure.

I realized why I knew all the words to one verse of the song and couldn’t remember any of the others. I had heard that one set of words a whole lot more than the rest.

This is absolutely true in our studies as disciples. The things that we repeat will be the things that we remember and live out in our everyday lives. Let’s remember this lesson and repeat it often. Make repetition a part of your plan for discipleship and your rhythm of personal discipleship.

Dakota Discipleship Podcast Episode 6 – Resources

No interview this week, but we have some lined up for the coming episodes. Today we talk about the toolkit and the resources available here and in the kit as well as starting a group. This episode is about 8 minutes long. Enjoy and God bless.

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Music bed credits: “Groundwork” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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Dakota Discipleship Podcast Episode 4 – Part 3 of an Interview with Eric and Casey Reimche at New Life on Main

This is part 3 of an interview with Eric and Casey to talk about the impact of small group ministry in the life of New Life on Main during transitions in the church. In this episode we discuss the size of small groups and making a plan for small group ministry. Be sure and subscribe to this blog if you want updates and new episodes when they are published. Comments and discussion are welcome on this post or others here at dakotadiscple.com

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Music bed credits: “Groundwork” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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Have You Got a Plan?

There is an old saying, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. A few years ago in a meeting at a church, I had an interesting experience. We were evaluating an activity that had seemingly gone really well. Much had been accomplished in a short period of time, but then someone asked a question, “what was the goal of this activity?”

Everyone looked around at one another and cited the things that were just accomplished. The follow up question brought a longer pause however. When had we decided this is what we needed to accomplish? At that moment, one of the men in the group had an epiphany.

“We didn’t,” he said, “and we do church this way all the time.” What followed was a great discussion about how we do ministry. So often, rather than create a vision or plan of what we expect from our ministry, we do the things that we know to do or the things that have always been done and then celebrate whatever we accomplish.

I am not saying that nothing good comes of this ever. But the downside to doing ministry this way is this is not something we can replicate or pass on and it can hamper the efforts we make for the Kingdom when we can’t do so.

We should have a plan for making disciples that helps us to continue making disciples for the long term. We have a component in the toolkit that can be accessed online called the discipleship template. It is designed to help you think through a way to define the process your church will use to make disciples. I want to encourage you to take a look at the template and use it as a guideline for creating a plan to make disciples that will make disciples.

Be blessed and go and make disciples.

Dakota Discipleship Podcast Episode 3 – Part 2 of an Interview with Eric and Casey Reimche at New Life on Main

This is part 2 of an interview with Eric and Casey to talk about the impact of small group ministry in the life of New Life on Main during transitions in the church and we had a great conversation. We talk more in this episode about the positive testimony of how small groups impacted New Life on Main during a season of transition in the church. Be sure and subscribe to this blog if you want updates and new episodes when they are published

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Music bed credits: “Groundwork” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Everyone Walks Together

The Great Commission commands us all to make disciples. The first step for each of us is to be a disciple before we make disciples. Much of what we are doing in the Dakotas through the toolbox and working alongside churches is designed to help develop a strategy for making disciples. Today I want to write a little bit about something that has been on my mind for some time.

The ministry and mission of the church can only be truly realized with each person being a part of the whole. The church is intended to be the body of Christ and all of the parts need to function in their own way to see the body be healthy and strong. This is absolutely true in the area of discipleship. Making disciples isn’t something for the pastor or staff or leaders only. Everyone who is following Christ has a part to play in the lives of those around them. Everyone walks together.

The way we walk and the direction we walk will determine where we go. While this is a completely obvious thing to say, I wonder how often in life we evaluate the way we walk, and particularly how we walk together. We know it is important to walk with others as Scripture says,


Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, (P)but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.


Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)

The beauty of true discipleship is when everyone walks together in the same direction, with the same purpose, toward the same goal. When we can define that goal for ourselves and for others we will find it so much easier to walk together.

Dakota Discipleship Podcast Episode 3 – Part 1 of an Interview with Eric and Casey Reimche at New Life on Main

I sat down with Eric and Casey to talk about the impact of small group ministry in the life of New Life on Main during transitions in the church and we had a great conversation. I want to encourage you to listen to this episode and hear about the power of regularly and also the positive testimony of how small groups impacted New Life on Main during a season of transition in the church. Be sure and subscribe to this blog if you want updates and new episodes when they are published

Download Episode

Music bed credits: “Groundwork” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Power of Regularly

I am working on editing the podcast episode for this week. We will have a multi-part interview with Eric and Casey Reimche from New Life on Main in Harvey, ND about the impact that small group discipleship has made in their church. As I was editing, something stuck out that I wanted to share as a blog post as well. I will simply call it the power of regularly.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the power of reading your Bible regularly. The more I think about it though, the more I realize this principle extends throughout all facets of our lives. We need to maintain rhythms in life to see change and growth. The benefits of exercise or diet changes come when we implement them as habits. Regularly. Our relationships with others are strengthened and grow when we give time and effort to them regularly. There is simply no substitute for the power of regularly.

The amazing thing about this word is it doesn’t define the interval by itself. It is more of a reflection of the determination there will be a next time to read, next time to work out, next time to assemble together, or a next time to share life together, and the power of those next times becomes cumulative in our lives and in our walk. We will talk more about our walk next week. This is the power of regularly.

So, let me encourage you to think in terms of regularly. Make the important things in your life, as a disciple, regular things. See what happens over time.

Beware of the Fade

My family got a membership to a local gym during the summer last year. We immediately dived in with some excitement at all of the ways we could utilize the membership. Swimming, climbing, workout equipment, a walking track, racquetball court, and the list could go on for a bit. My wife and I went nearly every day for a couple of weeks just trying new things. Then we hit a day here or there where we didn’t feel like going and decided to skip that day. The newness wore off a bit and routine set in instead.

We have still been going pretty regularly into the new year and it was at the beginning of the year that I noticed something interesting. Many of you probably already know what I am talking about. The parking lot is full and the gym is packed at almost any time we go. It wasn’t like this when we joined in the summer and I am pretty sure it won’t be like this by the time spring rolls around. Lots of people start strong on commitments, especially new commitments only to fade as time goes along and the newness wears off or the resolve wavers.

This happens in discipleship as well. When our commitment to Christ is new and fresh, the disciplines of discipleship seem easy. Reading our Bible and praying and worship and fellowship with other believers is a joy and exciting. But time can cause things to fade and habits to slip and fall by the wayside. It takes effort to keep going and remain faithful to the things we know we need to do in this walk of faith. I pray that you remember to watch out for the fade and don’t give in to it. Stay strong in the year ahead and beyond.