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Stopping short

Jesus took three years to help his disciples see the world and see themselves differently. And even then, at the end, they were blowing it. As Jesus hung on the cross, they were hiding. When he was resurrected, they didn’t believe it.   During those three years, as Jesus walked, lots of …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
Jesus took three years to help his disciples see the world and see themselves differently. And even then, at the end, they were blowing it. As Jesus hung on the cross, they were hiding. When he was resurrected, they didn’t believe it.
During those three years, as Jesus walked, lots of people came to him and wanted to know if they could become disciples on the cheap. He didn’t talk about how long it would take, but in different ways, he let them know that following him would be costly. He called it a “narrow road.”
I watch that same dynamic happen in our day all the time. In fact, too often I’ve been guilty of fostering it. We take people on the World Race and they get wrecked for the ordinary. They learn how to live simply, live in community, and live for the kingdom. They learn that they are loved and that they are free. It’s a process of waking up and it can be a glorious thing.
But after a year, we send them home. And in the past, that was that. What they needed was what Jesus offered his disciples: At least another two years of relationship. At least two more years of helping them figure out, “How do I live life now that my world has been turned upside down?”
Going home wrecked but with no real plan for figuring out what’s next misses the mark. If you’re a racer and you’ve gone through that and perhaps even felt a little abandoned, I want to apologize to you. It was not my best shot. You needed more and we should have given you more.
All of us who want to disciple owe it to our disciples to figure out how to start and finish the job of wrecking them. They grow up in a world that is plastic. It measures time in nanoseconds, and identity in terms of what’s in your closet or garage. To climb out of the Matrix, they need to walk in brokenness for a while. And then they need to walk in freedom.
It takes at least three years. It doesn’t happen in most of our youth groups. And if your parents discipled you and sent you to college, you may well join the millions who lose their faith there. We have good intentions, but we bail out before the process is complete.
It’s a real problem. If the church in America is in decline, this is one big reason why. We need at least three years of one-on-one discipleship with someone who pours into us. We need more.
I’ve made the mistake of trying to find shortcuts too often and I’ve determined to not make that mistake again. If you’re graduating from the race soon, I want to help you get at least two more years in community, two more years with someone pouring into you, two more years of practice building the kingdom somewhere. We can do better. I pledge to do better.
Have you been discipled intensively for at least three years? It was Jesus’ pattern. We need it to unwind the Matrix and learn how to live free. Those of us who are in ministry, especially, need to look hard at how to translate that pattern to the modern day.

Comments (8)

  • Seth, I was discussing this blog with my “Bride” and it caused me to remember my favorite dog, Katie the Irish Sitter. It turns out she had heart worms, bad and the vet gave her poison enough to kill the worms but not kill her. A very fine line but one that needed to happen for a complete heal….Frank

  • Seth, I am so glad that you/AIM are continually looking at how to support racers when they get off the field. I’m so grateful to be down here with the apprenticeship learning and growing. God’s brought me to deeper levels of trust and freedom over the past three months here than even in those 11 months on the field. Such a beautiful journey He has us on.

  • You hit the nail on the mark Seth. Against my own desire to mass produce disciples, Jesus keeps bringing me back to the simple and painful truth, that it is one-on-one for years (three at least) and not just for a few months and turn them loose. Getting traction in disciple-making takes a lot longer than I want, but I am recognizing it is the ONLY way that we will transform people and transform the world. It is God’s method, and perhaps that is why we resist it. Two years into this process with two men, and just now seeing them ‘begin to get it’ makes me realize how costly disciple making is.

    As a pastor, it is even harder, because we have been defined as church-builders instead of disciple-makers. Nowhere did Jesus instruct us to build the church (He said He would do that) but to “make disciples.” I read that Peter Lord when asked what he would do differently in his ministry said that he would preach less and disciple more. I’m 57 now, and making adjustments. I wish I was 30 and hadn’t wasted 25 years playing church.

  • I love what you are doing Seth! We have one of your racers Andrea Abslag, and we are going to POUR INTO HER as she joins us in Manila, Philippines working with and discipling young girls trafficked in the sex trade, orphans, widows, the poor and oppressed.

    You are on to something man. We are so impressed with the WR and how the Holy Spirit is doing things through you.

    Andrea will have daily discipleship as she lives, eats, worships, laughs, and cries with our girls. We will love and challenge her to greatness as God continues to work in her heart.

    I am already praying for more racers to join us as God continues to bring blessing upon us.

  • Thanks, Kenny. So appreciate the way you’re pouring into Andrea. That’s how the kingdom advances. You’re part of helping me fulfill our promise to racers.

  • I’m glad you’re seeking to do this. I see Searchlight as one of the many ways this is happening. I, and many on x squad, are looking forward to that this summer.Thanks for being committed to supporting racers even off the field.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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