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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 p…
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.

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