Discipleship has always been an emphasis of my ministry, and I often say we would greatly strengthen the Kingdom work of our church families if everyone had a Paul (a spiritual mentor), everyone had a Barnabas (a spiritual companion in the pilgrimage), and everyone had a Timothy (a spiritual charge, 2 Tim 2.2). This past weekend in TX was both a privilege and example of a discipling relationship.
Pictured with me above is Steve Alberts, a phenomenal youth minister who came to me while in college with many questions, open ears, desire to learn, and a heart to serve Christ. He passed me up long ago in effectiveness (3 John 4) . It has been my honor to preside at his wedding, officiate the funeral of his second born child, and preach his ordination sermon . He is a terrific husband and dad, and he and his devoted wife Shannon have three great kids, Hannah, Marshall, and Wesley Allan, my namesake. They have done a remarkable job of bringing them up “in the admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6.4).
After I received an invitation several months ago to teach at a retreat near Tyler, TX for Chinese students studying abroad, God orchestrated it so that this spring the Alberts would move from AR to a new church staff position in Tyler, and at the same time Wesley and Marshall would make professions of faith. I was invited to share in the baptisms of both boys if it worked out for that weekend. What a thrill; it was a rare moment baptizing the next generation of a disciple. Below are photos of this special occasion and Wesley Allan shows off his plaque from grandma.
The world says there is no “I” in TEAM. To dispel that myth at it relates to ministry, consider the following “I’s”: 1) In ministry we Invite people to accept the Good News about Jesus. 2) We Intersect their lives and teach the Indwelling of Christ (John 1, Col. 2.7-9) as we Incarnate those truths in our own lives. Below I explained to Wesley that baptism was his Identification with the resurrection of his Lord Jesus, and his Introduction into the family of God. We must go beyond Intersecting to Investing, which requires enormous time, effort, money, prayer, and personal emotion (1 Thess. 1.8). Discipleship runs counter to our culture of instant everything, and counter to our overemphasis on making decisions instead of disciples (Mt. 29.19-20). Although the 1-1 relationship is the most intense and most effective discipleship method, it is Incomplete if not done in the context of community. Every person is my superior in at least one way, and we disciple best when we do it together in a family of faith, where all can and should contribute to a new disciple’s growth.
That evening Wesley was expounding to me rather detailed evidences for a created order for existence, pretty remarkable for an eight year old. I think he will influence untold hundreds for Christ over the course of his life. What a joy nine years ago to write a letter of blessing to the yet unborn Wesley; what a greater joy to see him fulfill it before my eyes. A discipling relationship today can over the years yield many generations of believers. Pray today for God to reveal your next Timothy.