I have a standing Tuesday afternoon discipleship appointment with about eight guys. They come to our house after work. We sit on the porch and talk about a specific subject. We pray. And then we eat something Karen (plus Kacie and KK, the two young ladies she disciples in the arts of hospitality) has prepared.
The weather was perfect yesterday. We talked about the idea of "biblical partnership." I pulled together some material and shared from my life. We discussed how we have partnerships in all walks of life and the steps we can take to improve them. Afterward, we went inside and discovered that the women had gone to a Chinese market and prepared an incredible meal.
The part of the evening that we'd planned, the intentional part, ended. The guys felt cared for. They knew in a fresh, tangible way that we love them and want to see them become great. We talked in the kitchen and some stayed behind to hang out for the evening.
We were modeling something I teach the guys about a lot: intentionality. As you disciple others, you need to balance intentional times with serendipitous times. Studying the life of Jesus, you can see a picture of how to do it.
Jesus neither lived a rigid, rule-bound life, nor a whimsically organized one. In the Hebraic culture of the day, relationships were more important than schedules, but certain times were set aside for special purposes. Jesus balanced intentionality with serendipity in the following ways:
• He regularly got the disciples together to teach them.
• He periodically did outreaches.
• He regularly debriefed the disciples.
• He read and studied Scripture, regularly quoting it.
• He appears regularly in the synagogue.
• He asks for an appointment with people like Zacchaeus.
• He healed those who come to him on the spot.
• He fed his disciples by gleaning.
• He got resources as they were needed: a donkey, taxes.
• Ministry happened as he bumped into people along the way.
• He would leave crowds to attend to the needs of individuals.
The best discipleship often happens serendipitously while cooking, cleaning, shopping, or hanging out. Your efforts to demonstrate that you care don't seem to be tainted by mixed motives to the disciple. They don’t feel like they are your project. They're more likely to be receptive to challenge. You can hold them accountable in a natural way.
I'm always looking for opportunities to intentionally spend time with disciples. These are times to encourage, minister, and challenge. But I also want to keep my door open for spontaneous conversation.
You can let the pendulum swing too far one way or the other. Jesus shows that you need both. He calls all of us to be disciple makers. The best way to start demonstrating intentionality is by asking him, "Lord, who can I disciple?" And when he brings someone to mind, begin showing them you care by finding ways to be a good friend to them.