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Long distance discipleship can bear great fruit

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If you’re a high touch, relational person, you may have an aversion to using technology to help you disciple. My own experience is that it can be an effective tool in my disciple-making toolbox. Yes, it’s just one tool, but it’s made possible dozens of long distance discipling relationships for m…
By Seth Barnes
If you’re a high touch, relational person, you may have an aversion to using technology to help you disciple. My own experience is that it can be an effective tool in my disciple-making toolbox. Yes, it’s just one tool, but it’s made possible dozens of long distance discipling relationships for me.
 
Without it, I might not know Gabe Landes, Uche Izuora, or Emmanuel Sadiq. God has used technology to grow my relationship with each of them to a point where they feel like sons in the Lord and to where I’m hopeful that we can do a lot of long-term damage for the kingdom together.
 
Obviously the web can only take a relationship so far, but I’ve learned that it can do two things really well:
a) introduce you to people and
b) convey information.
What it can’t do is be a substitute for true relationship. It’s a flat medium; to go deep with people, you need to be with them. That said, I’ve been amazed at how far it can take you.
 
My relationship with Gabe Landes is the best example I’ve got of how God can use technology. He started out as a blog reader, then he became more of a
participant in the blog community, then he introduced his wife to the blog community, Heidi,
then they became leaders in it (leading online small
groups and mission trips), and now we’re dreaming together about
planting the kingdom around the world. Some specific fruit:
  • Together we’ve funded orphans and disaster relief in Pakistan
  • Led online groups on listening prayer
  • Organized a leadership retreat
  • Gone on vision trips
  • Begun planting churches together
We’ve found that technology can get the ball rolling on projects and create the possibility for taking the relationship deeper in person.
 
Taking what I’ve learned from my relationship with Gabe, I know that to go to another level with Uche or Emmanuel, we’ll need to meet in person. Although we communicate regularly by email, phone and skype, we’ve formed a trust relationship and talk about how we might one day minister together, until God makes a way for us to meet, there is a ceiling on the relationship.
Some advice if you’re wondering how to start: 
1. With an offer (see I’ll disciple you)
2. With a project (this post is an example)
3. With a small group on Fishmouse (a site built just for discipleship)
4. On Facebook
5. As you develop online relationships, realize that you have to move your communication to a more personal level if it is to progress. Ultimately, you’ll need to meet.
6. Maintain protocols in cross-gender communication. 

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