In this final week of our Lenten study, we are looking at the impact of being a Barnabas outside of the church walls. Can we apply what we learn from Barnabas to the Great Commission to make disciples?
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20).
How are we to make disciples? Certainly by sharing our faith. Yet how to share it effectively?
It is certain that Barnabas took his coaching skills on the road during his missionary journey with Mark. Those skills make for a solid evangelism pathway. Listening, asking good questions, and encouraging others to discover God’s plan for their lives and then to take the next step in that plan. These are winsome practices.Listening, asking good questions, encouraging others to discover God’s plan for their lives and then to take the next step in that plan— this is a solid evangelism pathway. Click To Tweet
To Make Disciples—Listen Well
A therapist friend of mine describes her thriving practice as fulfilling the deep human need to be seen and heard. It makes all the difference. Listen well to the unchurched. Form a full picture of the pain they carry and what adds joy to their lives. As you grow in understanding, pray for compassion and love to follow. You will find the chasm between casual friendship and spiritual conversations less intimidating.
As you listen to those needing forgiveness and freedom in Christ, bear in mind the connection of kindness and repentance that Paul makes in Romans 2:3-4:
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Active listening is a powerful tool for making disciples. In meeting people where they are at, developing compassion and a heart for the lost, and discerning where the Holy Spirit is already at work in individuals, you are creating a safe place for people to engage with their spiritual questions.In meeting people where they are at, developing compassion and a heart for the lost, and discerning where the Holy Spirit already at work, you are creating a safe place for people to engage with their spiritual questions. Click To Tweet
To Make Disciples—Ask Good Questions
Good questions partnered with active listening shows genuine interest and care. These are powerful disciplemaking tools.
When engaging with the unchurched, ask their thoughts. Ask them questions about what they believe– not to tear it down but to understand where they are coming from. Ask questions about where they want to go, what they want to accomplish, what they are celebrating, how they want their life to look in 5 years. There are a myriad of open-ended questions that can help you begin to discern the ways that God might be already at work in their lives.Good questions partnered with active listening shows genuine interest and care. These are powerful disciplemaking tools. Click To Tweet
To Make Disciples—Be an Encourager
Celebrate the joys. Allow space for the pain. Confirm the work that you see God is doing in them. Ask them what they think they need to do. Encourage healthy movement. Affirm them as they take even baby steps toward Jesus.
A big part of making disciples today is in overcoming the reputation of the church. Taking a listening posture– rather than a posture of giving unrequested advice– is how we open the door to productive spiritual conversations and create a safe environment of mutual respect. In that kind of environment, some will respond with curiosity as they seek to understand God.Taking a listening posture-- rather than a posture of giving unrequested advice-- is how we open the door to productive spiritual conversations and create a safe environment of mutual respect. Click To Tweet
Under what conditions are you most open to considering new ideas or viewpoints? Under what conditions are you least open? Most likely you are most open in an atmosphere where you feel safe, seen, and heard. The Barnabas lifestyle—listening well, asking good questions, and being a source of encouragement—creates a disciplemaking atmosphere.
Make a list of simple questions you can ask that may lead to productive spiritual conversations and disciplemaking? Pray and name at least 2 people you feel God is calling you to be more intentional with in a disciplemaking capacity.
The Discipleship Difference- This book lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship that is individualized to meet each person wherever they are. Available in English and in Spanish.
Guide for Discipling- We created this resource to help people grow closer to God and to one another. Using short scriptural teachings coupled with good questions, this guide will help you and those you are discipling identify areas for growth and take the next best step on your journey with Jesus. Our guides can be used with any denomination, however, recognizing that it is helpful to work within the traditions and voice of the denomination you belong to, we have partnered with key denominational leaders to offer customized guides. Vineyard Discipleship Guides, A Discipleship Guide for Lutherans, and Discipleship for Episcopalians are available for download on our website or can be found in print on Amazon.com.
Becoming Barnabas- How can you serve as a Barnabas – a son or daughter of encouragement? How can you disciple, develop, and support those around you? How can that relational investment lead to a powerful impact on the church and on the surrounding community? This book focuses on practical “how” questions like these. If you want to be a Barnabas or see Barnabas’s activated in your community, Becoming Barnabas is the place to start. Available in paperback and Kindle, in English and Spanish.