Thursday, September 16, 2010

Disciple Making In Brazil - Turning On The Key

As the summer comes to an end, so does our motorcycle riding instruction for the season. Once again, I am amazed at the process of the average person with no riding knowledge or ability, going from; "where does the key go?" to riding tight curves at 15 mph, stopping quickly, swerving, and all with decent skill for someone with only 10 hours of motorcycle coaching!

I'd like to attribute it to Tom and my great coaching abilities, and to our own knowledge and skill in motorcycling. However, that is not the case. I started riding only in 2006, and Tom did not have that much more experience than me when we started. Of course we did pass the gruelling "training of the trainers" process (86 hours of insane intensity!) but that isn't the key to our students' rapid skill acquisition.

Rather, it is because of the intentional teaching strategy of the program itself.
The program teaches in the way in which we learn best; a small group of participants, a short verbal instruction, a visual demonstration, a time and "space" to practice, with a de-brief process at the end.
Small increments of skill are steadily introduced at each level.

Jesus taught like this.

He had his few disciples around him; the men and women who travelled from town to town with him getting "coached" in Kingdom living. He would give a teaching or a principle, demonstrate it, often times telling them to do it, and then later talk to them about it. With this manner of teaching, they were able to learn and be mentored in a short time and in a way that left powerful impact.

I don't know when standing up in front of people, teaching and downloading information and opinions, became known as disciple making and training in Christian Kingdom life! Disciples are made in much smaller contexts and with direct coaching and involvement in the process. If Jesus Himself followed this process of making disciples, why on earth would we do anything different and think it's achieving the same end?

Of course we also see Jesus speak to the masses, as in the Sermon on Mount. However, in His intentional training of His disciples, He did it small, concise, with practice, and in increments, getting them ready and prepared for His departure.

On our trip to Brazil, this principle was at work with the team we had and the results were astounding!

Three of the five young adults that went were my own kids. Now, my kids have grown up in an environment of ministering. Tom and I have intentionally discipled them to be able to hear God, and respond in faith with an action of some sort (i.e. prayer, a word, a direction, etc). Discipling our kids now is a matter of giving them new experiences to grow and mature in these areas and acting more as a coach in the process.

But one team member had not been a Christian for very long and had not grown up in a family that practiced faith beyond a trip to church once a year or so. Her exposure to the different aspects of what I call "ministry" (i.e. praying for the sick, dealing with the demonic, emotional inner healing issues, salvation, teaching, counseling, prophetic understanding, sharing The Word, and testimonies of God's faithfulness, etc.) were all new things to her. Completely.

She was like one of our new, totally clueless motorcycle students on the first riding day of class saying; "Where does the key go?".

Now a word here regarding the ministry trips I lead to this area of Brazil. It is in the Amazon River basin area. Sometimes we are in a large and modern town, and other times we travel on boat to more isolated jungle areas. We minister in organized church buildings, homes, on the street or in the jungle; the contexts change - the ministry does not.

We "rough it" in all aspects. We don't stay in hotels but live with the people we minister to. That means we are "on call" to minister at any time that we're requested to do so. On one trip previously, I was using the bathroom when a knock at my door requested that; "when I finished, a couple was waiting for counsel and prayer". Sure enough, when I exited the bathroom there they were, just outside the bathroom door!

You get the idea. We eat, play, sleep, take bucket baths, use whatever is being offered as an outhouse, alongside those we come to serve. The only thing we do different is drink bottled water ( it just makes life a bit easier NOT to be running for the bushes or outhouse every few minutes).

This was the context our more inexperienced team member was tossed into. A challenge in every way for even the more "seasoned" minister!

Wow, did she ever rise to the challenge! She was an amazing asset to the team. She took her key, turned it on and took off!

She jumped right in, fully and without hesitation on the first day in Brazil. By bold and audacious faith, she stepped into the learning process and, in motorcycle vernacular; rolled on the throttle!

I saw how the small size of the team, the modeling that was being done, the freedom to practice and experiment in the learning process, along with encouragement and "de-briefing" later on accelerated her learning process. She was in a huge growth spurt!

I also saw another principle at work.

In the motorcycle classes, we have noticed that skill acquisition for a student who may have initially weaker skills or complete inexperience, is directly affected by those other people in the class and their skill and experience levels. When a weaker student is placed in a class of more experienced or skilled riders, the student acquires skill and gains confidence far quicker and stronger than those in a class of students who are at similar levels in their abilities.

People learn best when they are being challenged beyond their ability, surrounded by those a bit farther along in small, intimate, trusting and encouraging environments.

This young woman quickly made up ground that the others on the team had spent a lifetime in learning (albeit a young life, but a lifetime non- the- less). The peer modeling that was in front of her was powerful in it's impact upon her own progress. No sermons, books, seminars or conferences could of done what a few days with those a bit farther on the journey, could do in her gaining skill, confidence and ultimately testimonies of God's faithfulness in serving and ministering to others.

Are you in a place where your being challenged to grow beyond your present abilities and acquired skills and knowledge in the Kingdom?

Do you have others around you that inspire you to growth and new adventures of learning with Christ?

Are you discipling and mentoring others that you can coach in their new adventures with God?

It doesn't take a trip to Brazil to have a growth spurt or coach someone else in theirs. It doesn't take a motorcycle class to learn some new challenge.

It just takes you "turning on the key" and taking off on the adventure with some others, both ahead and behind you in the journey.

"Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo I AM with you always, even to the end of the age" Matthew 28:19-20


  1. Good stuff, Katie. Sounds like an amazing adventure. Yes, we're in a place where we're being challenged. We've taken a new step--we believe "up"--this weekend. Watch for updates on Facebook. :-)


  2. I'm looking forward to hearing about them Sharon!

  3. My first views of your blog. Great analogies!