How God used turkey hunting to teach me about discipleship, Part 2

Neal Nelson Blog

This post is really not about turkey hunting but about how helping others become maturing followers of Jesus (discipleship) began to look like for me. However, I really do think God used being mentored in turkey hunting to give me a picture and a peace about the discipling process. If you are interested in reading the back story the click here: How God Used Turkey Hunting to Teach Me About Making Disciples, Part 1. Otherwise let me take each principle or component and “unpack” in light of my learned experiences of walking with college students seeking to follow Jesus.

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I ENCOURAGED them… I do not have any actionable data but my experience has been that many young (remember my collegiate context) Christians were discouraged or at least neutral about their “walk with Christ”. This is not the post to go into the topic but I would suggest that the discouragement in others I experienced was a combination of normal immaturity, unrealistic expectations about sin struggles, lack of authentic biblical community, and a lack of biblical understanding. Whatever the actual reasons or even if it was all in my mind, encouragement, was crucial. I was and still am confident like Scott was about my eventual turkey hunting success that with a little “coming along side others” (and a lot of Jesus, the word, Spirit, the church, real life struggle) every believer can mature in Christ. I am pretty sure Jesus and the first disciples were confident of spiritual maturity in their work also.(Ephesians 4:11-15, Colossians 1:28, 1 Peter 2:1-3)

I spent TIME with them… This is going to sound like we are talking about parenting and in a spiritual sense we kind of are but “quality time” really cannot be planned. The really impactful teachable moments typically happen during the quantity time which equates to more time is better. But that being said, the issue of how much time discipleship, or good parenting for that matter, requires is a huge TENSION. Time is part of the difference between the “programmed” and “first century” approaches toward discipleship I mentioned in part one of this post. Our cultural reality is such that even if I did nothing but discipled others I would still be constrained by time commitments in their life. And if marriage and family are part of the commitment of either party involved time is greatly limited. The time limitations of our culture really make the “programmed” approach appealing, its efficient. But the axiom that more time spent with less people equals more impact is difficult to deny. So what do we do? I think we should spend as much time as is necessary with a person without harming key relationships and responsibilities. Here are some helpful truths to consider when figuring out the time component of helping others follow Jesus. I could (and might should) write another post just unpacking these but for sake of keeping your eyes from crossing I am just going to offer the list.

  • Intentionality and consistency are key!
  • Various settings and experiences are helpful.
  • Asking good questions is at least as important (maybe more) than sharing information.
  • Telling stories is an effective way to share truth. (see below)
  • Doing & Being need to be balanced.

I SHARED STORIES with them… As I said in my last post the sharing of stories was so significant in my learning to turkey hunt because Scott’s stories were both relatable and memorable. And the reality was that faith stories were also very significant in my learning to following Jesus. Jesus was a master story teller and even though we do not have a command in the New Testament to go and tell stories, up unto the printing press age oral communication was the methodology for passing on truth from one generation to another. So it is probably safe to assume that being a good story teller was essential in the making of disciples of Jesus in the early church. Of course not all stories are created equal so here are a few thoughts on the kinds of stories that are effective in discipling others:

  • stories in scripture
  • stories about scripture renewing us and others
  • stories about stories (from books, sermons, etc.) God has used to help you know and follow Him
  • stories about other great believers past and present
  • stories about both success and failure in your Christian walk
  • stories that relate to where the person you are discipling is or soon will be
  • stories about sharing the gospel with others
  • stories about some of the practices and their benefits skills (see below) you are trying to impart

I taught them skills… Here is a short list:

  1. Basic scripture interpretation and application
  2. Importance of digging into the biblical basis of everything
  3. Dealing with sin & confessing sin
  4. Prayer
  5. Sharing faith with others
  6. Basic disciplines of the faith: Time Alone With God, Prayer, etc.
  7. Being a person of both grace and truth
  8. Living in Biblical community in this century
  9. Servant-heartedness

There is so much more to share but hopefully this post will be helpful and encouraging as you seek to make disciples of all nations. I’m sure you’ve realized by now, but here’s the disclaimer: to make disciples, no turkey hunting necessary!