The following is a guest blog post by Tiana Spencer. She currently serves on the teaching team at Fellowship Monrovia in Monrovia, CA, and is one of our 50+ speakers at the Exponential Regionals this fall:
“‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
I’ve spent the past 20 years of my life finding ways to disciple others, whether its been through one on one conversations, leading small groups or teaching in a room full of people. It’s been one of my passions since I came to Christ at 14 years old. I’ve loved to have the hard conversations, speak about the truth and love of Jesus, and walk with people as they move toward growth in their relationship with God. But if I’m honest, when I think about disciple multiplying, the glory of it is actually the last thing that comes to my mind. In fact, in the past I’ve honestly found it to be just as exhausting and frustrating as it has been exhilarating. Why? Because of nets. You see, Jesus told the men to come and follow Him, and they immediately left their nets in order to do so. They immediately left what was normal, secure, and comfortable for them. They left what they knew and probably loved. They left it all just so they could go after Jesus. You know, I honestly believe that the hardest part of discipleship today is not getting people to believe in God, but it’s getting people to leave their nets for Him. It’s getting people to sacrifice their comfort, desires, or self in anyway. Now, this is not a novel opinion. I mean, we all know that the nets in today’s culture are some of the strongest and deadliest nets to ever exist. We have everything at our fingertips and everything else calling for our attention. We have more to leave behind today than we have ever had before, and as a person who genuinely wants to make disciples that can be disheartening.
I recently sat with a group of young ladies I am discipling, and asked them the question, “What is it in your net that is keeping you from fully following Jesus?” And as they stared at me with sadness in their eyes, my heart was grieved. Grieved because I had seen that look many times over the years. It was the look of someone torn with affection for way too many things, and finally realizing the cost of it. I mean, we’ve all felt that before right? We’ve all had to choose. So there is grace regarding the weight of the choice. But you guys, I was reminded that night that the competition of the net is huge. It’s huge. And as we make and multiply disciples we are going to continue to feel that more and more especially as the culture continues to shift. The question is, what do we do about it? How do we continue to make disciples of a people who refuse or just can’t bring themselves to leave their nets? Well, here’s a simple reminder the Lord showed me that night. He said, Tiana your job was never to persuade people to leave. Your job is to show them what they are missing out on by staying.
You see, Jesus didn’t say to the disciples, “Leave all those fish that would be able to feed your families for weeks.” He didn’t say, “Leave all your security and everything you have ever known.” Now, in reality that is what he was asking them to do, but He didn’t put it that way. He simply said, follow Me. Follow Me. He called their attention to Him and Him only. He was their draw. He was their pull. The beauty of Him and what He was calling them to. And because of that the disciples weren’t fixated on what they were leaving, but instead completely fascinated by where they were going.
I wonder if we, as disciple makers, get off track at times. I know I do. Sometimes it is so easy to unintentionally disciple by trying to pry the nets out of the hands of the people. It’s so easy to constantly focus on what they need to give up or sacrifice in order to fully pursue their relationship with the Lord. But what if we changed the game plan? What if we began to disciple by simply putting the beauty of Jesus before people at all times? Let Him attract them. Let Him draw them in. What if we stopped persuading them to leave and showed them what they are missing out on by staying. Now, I’m not talking about glorifying a walk with Christ by any means. We all know that sacrifice and suffering come with the call. What I am saying, however, is that people will naturally become less consumed with their bounty when they become fully captivated by His beauty. So, what is our job as disciple makers? To teach Jesus in all His glory. To find ways to lay out the beauty of His heart before every person we come in contact with. It’s a simple truth that I have to constantly come back to. You guys, we cannot get in the business of fighting nets. And we have to refuse the temptation to wade in the grief that comes with discipling a nation who is seduced by them. Because whether they initially see it or not, we serve a God whose beauty outweighs anything a net could ever hold. And it is our honor, as disciple makers, to make sure the world knows that. The rest, my friends, is completely up to Him.
Special Invitation from Tiana
Tiana Spencer is one of over 50 speakers at the Exponential Regional conferences this fall. Join Tiana and others at the Bay Area regional conference!
Hero Maker Conferences
Hero Maker is the theme for Exponential 2018. The theme focuses on the shift from being the hero to coming alongside others for them to become the heroes in our church’s unfolding story. At each conference, we will unpack the 5 essential practices for leaders to multiply leaders: multiplication thinking, permission giving, disciple multiplying, gift activating, and kingdom building.
|5 Main Sessions||10+ Speakers||FREE Equipping Labs|
Regional Conference Locations
- Washington, DC: September 10-11
- Southern California: October 2-4
- Bay Area: October 22-23
- Houston: October 24-25
- Chicago: November 6-7
- New York City: December 5-6
To learn more and to register for any of the 2018 Hero Maker conferences, click here.