Peter and Megan DeWitt

What Makes a Good Disciple? (part 3)

Audio Written Summary

A good discipler first of all has a vibrant connection with God - everything flows out of that. He’s the vine, we are the branches. Apart from Him, we can do noting - that includes ministering. 

A lot of people make to-do lists before they get in the Word. If we commit our work to the Lord, He will establish our thoughts … He will put them in order. Then, you operate in your to-do list out of a place of peace! The Lord says in Isaiah that He makes our task-master (the one managing our tasks … our to-do list) peace. So He establishes our thoughts early in the day and His peace leads us throughout the day. 
 
The other 6 characteristics of a good discipler are:
Characteristic #2 of a Good DiscipleR: Demonstrates Results
Characteristic #3 of a Good DiscipleR: Share Process & Thought Process
Characteristic #4 of a Good DiscipleR: Intentionally Relational
Characteristic #5 of a Good DiscipleR: Patient
Characteristic #6 of a Good DiscipleR: Has a Vision for the Disciple
Characteristic #7 of a Good DiscipleR: Directs the Disciple to the Lord!
 
When we think about being a good discipler we tend to think of #7 pretty much being it. Characteristics #1-6 are actually all the things that set the table for the meal! Without you having a vibrant relationship with the Lord, having testimonies, having patience and vision for them … all of those things set the table for the actual meal, which is being in the Word, prayer, and hearing from the Lord. 
 
I know many of you are probably feeling inadequate. “I can’t disciple somebody. I don’t have all of this stuff going. Consider John 6:3-12 … did they have enough food in the natural to feed all those people? Not even close! But like the 5 barley loaves, you DO HAVE SOMETHING! The Word of God is in you. It is in your mouth. And He wants you to give it away. If you bring it to Him and say “God this is all I have” He will give thanks for what you DO HAVE and give it back to you … and as you give it to others it WILL multiply!
 
Do you know what happens after that? After you minister you get a whole basketful back! You get more than you even had to begin with. If you feel like you have just a little bit. Give it to God. He’s going to thank the Father for it and He’s going to give it back to you. You are going to give it away and it will be multiplied back to you!

What Makes a Good Disciple? (part 2)

Audio Written Summary

Jesus said He would build His ekklesia. Jesus said He would build His ruling, legislative body who governs the Kingdom on this earth. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Who knows how to accomplish that?!? No amount of white-boarding ideas is going to figure out how to do that! Good thing Jesus said He would be the One to build the ekklesia - to build that level of influence in every sphere of society! He did not say He would disciple nations. That part is ours. This is the thesis of the whole series. We disciple nations. He builds His ekklesia. 

One thing about “new initiatives” is that many people have learned to just “weather the storm … you know it will be gone in a year. I’m not going to let this one go by the wayside. I don’t know what we are doing exactly but I am pregnant with this vision and I believe I received it from the Lord over a period of time and it keeps getting stronger and stronger in me. So our church is going to be a church of influencers that spread Kingdom influence to their sphere of society. You are going to find out that every single one of you is an influencer and every single one of you does have a sphere. 
 
When Megan met me she was already 2 years into college and at that point in time she wasn’t having a thriving relationship with the Lord. She wasn’t fellowshipping with others and didn’t have the leadership roles with others that she was used to having while in High School. She wasn’t having input from the Lord (-1), she wasn’t having regular fellowship with peers in the Lord (0), and she wasn’t playing a mentoring role (+1) where she was giving out a lot and discipling people. As a result of all of these things, Megan wasn’t growing in the Lord and was kind of coasting on fumes when she met me. When she met me she could tell the Lord was drawing me. The Lord gave her a vision for me. She started praying for me. I didn’t know the Lord at that point so she started praying for me. That rejuvenated her prayer life with the Lord. She was talking to the Lord again (about someone else) and that gave her an opportunity to approach the Lord again. Additionally, I was so hungry because I was so needy (REALLY needy) that it made her hungry again.
 
When you’ve been in the Lord for a long time, it is harder to be hungry because you already have a foundation, you know how things go, and you can kind of coast in life. If you don’t have something new going on it can be easy to coast. Having a hungry, needy baby around changes all of that. They have needs that need met (which demands something new of you) and it helps remind you of all the Lord has done for you!
 
Babies don’t choose hunger, they just are hungry. The mature must choose hunger. The mature must choose progress which causes hunger. If you are seasoned in the Lord, stagnation becomes very easy - because you actually need to put yourself in positions where the Holy Spirit needs to be your comforter again in order to grow again into greater things in the Lord. You may think “why did I grow faster when I was new in the Lord?” I often say “if you think you’ve arrived, you’re right.” I’m consistently coaching myself. “Lord, help me start again. Help me start afresh. Help me take some new ground.” I thrive on having some external challenges that cause me to step in again with hunger.
 
When you are ministering to someone else, they will draw on you. When Megan and I felt the grace for me to step into the lead pastor role I asked Brad “how do you structure your week?” Brad said something to me that I took and ran with (remember that one of the characteristics of a good disciple is faithfulness … which LOOKS LIKE follow-through!) Brad told me that 90% of my effectiveness is going to come from my time in prayer and time in the Word. I thought to myself “I have my marching orders!” I had this thing on me “you need to make a DECISION - that you are going to hold your time in the Word and in prayer sacrosanct.” 
 
We were up at my Megan’s family’s lake house. The kids were taking a nap. I was on my face in the living room, praying, and reading the Word. The Lord speaks this to me: “never give up the golden goose … only give golden eggs” and He directs me to John 15:4-8. You can take this set of verses to the bank! 90% of your ministry effectiveness is right here in these verses.  John 15:4-8 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 
 
What’s the amount of fruit you can bear apart from Jesus? ZERO. If you would like to have fruit to disciple someone with, where should you get it? I know it sounds silly but the average pastor who quits the pastorate spends less than 30 minutes a week in the Word and in prayer TOTAL. I am NOT being critical. That is not why they got into the pastorate. Here’s the progression:
 
When you are a branch in the vine, you bear fruit naturally and so you show yourself to be a disciple and bring glory to God. If you get disconnected from the vine, you wither. When you wither, do you bear fruit? Nope. But if you are ministering, people still come to you for ….  FRUIT!
 
I had fruit they were eating and I wasn’t working for that fruit. I was just abiding in Christ and I had fruit. People come up and say “can I eat your fruit?” I am thinking “that’s fine, freely I’ve received. Freely I give. More will come where it came from because I am connected to the vine.” 
 
Now if I get disconnected from the vine (God-forbid) now I am on the ground sort of withered and with no fruit. Now people come up to me and say “can I have some fruit?” Out of pride I may respond “go ahead because I get my identity and value from having fruit for you so I won’t be honest and tell you that I am actually ALL OUT OF FRESH FRUIT!” Don’t do that! They think “I don’t see any fruit but I’ll eat the branch.” So now they are not eating fruit, they are eating wood! Yuck. And the wood they are eating is YOU!
 
That is what is called BURN-OUT scripturally. You’ve been eaten alive by those whom you were supposed to feed naturally and without any effort through a connection you happen to have. Instead, now you are in a disconnected place, you don’t have the fruit, but they will still eat you. 
 
If you feel like you are in a place of disconnection right now, there is no condemnation in it. Listen to this sermon (particularly the 2nd half of it) for many powerful tips to re-establishing your day-to-day connection with God!

What Makes a Good Disciple? (part 1)

Audio Written Summary

Ekklesia was the Greek and Roman legislative / democratic body that governed all the issues of society. Ekklesia implies “you are going to govern the world and you are going to pray like this ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’” Ekklesia operates as Jesus said … it is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom. We have been given the keys of the Kingdom. What we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and what we lose on earth will be loosed in Heaven. That’s ekklesia.

The ekklesia - the governance body of the Kingdom on earth is inherently called to disciple nations. The commission screams “disciple nations! Influence every sphere of society!” The model I am proposing for our church is that instead of church being what it is often been thought of which is “yeast in a yeast jar.” … I’m proposing taking the lid off of the yeast jar so that the yeast can be in the dough. 
 
How do you disciple nations? You disciple people … and you keep those people that you disciple in their sphere of influence so that once they are discipled they bring the Kingdom into that sphere that they have authority over! 
 
Hear that again. How do you disciple nations? You disciple people and you keep them in their sphere of influence instead stealing them for the church … so that they will exercise Kingdom authority in every sphere of influence of society until the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God! “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
 
The huge vision of discipling nations boils down to discipling people and equipping them to bring the Kingdom into their sphere of influence. That’s what this sermon series is about. 
 
The core of discipleship is love. If we could just get the simple things and do them, we would rock the world. We don’t need more knowledge, we just need more action. We will get more knowledge when we need it as we act more. The satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. There are two sides of the learning process. The first side of the learning process is getting the input of information / knowledge / understanding … this is the same as eating. The second side of the learning process is doing the work … which causes you to get hungry again. Many believers are loathing the sweetest of words because they haven’t worked enough to develop their appetite again. 
 
Spiritual employment is key to spiritual health. It accomplishes the other half of the learning cycle. There is the input side (which is like lecture) and the output side (which is like lab where you go use the knowledge and “do the stuff”).
 
The breakthrough in Nehemiah happened in chapter 3 when the PEOPLE started to build! They build in 52 days (if I recall) what had not been accomplished in decades! Nehemiah gave the vision (that’s what I’m doing here). Jesus commissioned us to disciple people and promised He would build His ekklesia, His ruling body. We are not responsible for producing that governmental level impact in every sphere of society; we are responsible for discipling people and keeping them in their sphere of influence that they might bring the Kingdom THERE! The victory here will not be me having the vision, it will be you all doing the work!
 
You never step out of the place of being a disciple. You always want to be a disciple. This sermon is an invitation to those believers who have been orphans to experience the blessing of having a mother or father in the Lord -  to build them up. So many in the body of Christ have never experienced what it is like to have someone in their life who speaks the truth to them in love … someone they can just receive from and develop them - and who isn’t looking for anything from them. The tone and the tenor of this message is about how you can position yourself so that you can receive.
 
The 7 Characteristics of a Good Disciple discussed in this sermon are:
Characteristic #1: A Good Disciple is Hungry
Characteristic #2: A Good Disciple is Humble
Characteristic #3: A Good Disciple is Available
Characteristic #4: A Good Disciple is Faithful
Characteristic #5: A Good Disciple Teaches Others
Characteristic #6: A Good Disciple Is Known
Characteristic #7: A Good Disciple ALL IN
 
When Megan and I counsel marriages we say “you can’t work on a marriage … all you can do is work on the individual people.” I can seek the Lord and Megan can seek the Lord and as we both seek the Lord and are transformed by Him, our marriage is simply going to get better! 
 
Likewise people are asking “how is this discipleship going to work? How do you do discipleship?” This is why we are going through the characteristics of a good disciple - and then the characteristics of a good discipler. The disciple can work on being a disciple and the discipler can work on being a discipler … and then you have a good discipling relationship!
 
If you ask someone “how do you do the discipleship? How does that happen?” What happens is you try to come up with a formula. But it’s not about formula. It’s about a relationship! May we be good disciples and good disciplers!