Dare to Disciple: Practical Steps to Mentoring Believers/Program 1

By: Dr. Robby Gallaty; ©2010
The importance of the prayer life of believers, what the Bible teaches in this area, and how to improve through basic daily routines. As we do, we’ll discover prayer is more than a task, but rather a conversation with the Creator of the universe.



Announcer: What do you think is the main thing, the number one thing that Jesus wants every Christian in America, Canada, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Philippines and Australia, to do. Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.” What is a disciple? How do you make a disciple?

My guest today who will tell us is Robby Gallaty, a man who pastors a church of 3,200 members, and has four morning services, yet personally disciples seven or eight people each year. They, in turn, have gone on to disciple. Now, if you have never discipled anyone, is it really possible you could do this? What are the practical things you need to know? Today you will find out on this special edition of The John Ankerberg Show.

Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’ve got a great one for you today. As you know, we live in a world of over seven billion people; and four and a half billion of those people do not know the Lord Jesus as their Savior. And Jesus Christ Himself has a plan of how to reach those people. And He’s given us the Great Commission, for us to go into the world and make disciples. And what we’re talking about is, how do you do that? How do you do that? And I’ve invited one of the premier Bible teachers in our country, Robby Gallaty, who’s going to share from his own personal experiences of how we go about making disciples. And here’s a fellow who has a church of 3200 members, does four services on Sunday, and yet puts as a priority to disciple individuals. And over seven years of time, he’s already discipled 30 different people. And those people are replicating and going out and discipling others. Now, Robby, I want to make this very personal to people. Seven years ago you did not even know the Lord.
Robby Gallaty: Yeah.
Ankerberg: You were one scary dude walking down the streets in New Orleans. In fact, you were a bouncer in a bar in New Orleans, 290, 6’6”, okay? And I’ve seen your driver’s license, and if people saw you, you were one scary guy.
Gallaty: Yeah.
Ankerberg: Okay. You look completely different. Jesus has completely changed your life. I want you to tell us how you came to know Jesus as your Savior, how He rescued you out of the sins that you were in. And then, the importance of somebody coming along side of you and discipling you; why it’s so important; and then how you are discipling others.
Gallaty: Yeah.
Ankerberg: Share your story.
Gallaty: Well, I was raised in a religious home, I had parents who were Roman Catholic and we went to church every week. But the thing was, as religious as I was, I did not have a relationship with the Lord.
Ankerberg: Um-hum.
Gallaty: I went to college to play basketball in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. And of all places to get a scholarship, I went to a Christian college, Southern Baptist Christian college. And so you can imagine I was the target of every evangelism class on campus. They would go after me, you know, “Robby’s lost, we’re going to tell Robby about Christ.” In 1995, a guy came to me and he said, “Robby, if you ever get in a bind, if you ever are into trouble, you can cry out to the Lord, repent of your sins, and put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” And I would say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” You see, at that time I was interested in the fraternity houses; I was interested in partying; I was interested in women; and so Jesus was the last thing on the radar. I got out of college in 1998. I started my own computer company. I wanted to be successful in the world. I wanted to be rich and famous in the world. And as I was coming home from work in 1999, John, an 18-wheeler – didn’t ask for it to happen, didn’t even see it coming – came across two lanes of traffic and rear-ended me at 65 miles an hour.
Ankerberg: Wow.
Gallaty: My seat actually broke off the hinge, my seatbelt locked in place. I went to the doctors and they said, “It’s amazing that you made it through the accident. We’re going to send you home with four things.” At the age of 22 years old, I was sent home with OxyContin, Valium, Soma, and Percocet. Now, you can imagine what happened. I began to take the drugs every 4-6 hours for pain, and within three months, I was addicted to pharmaceutical drugs. I had this insatiable desire to get high. I didn’t want to make money, I didn’t want to be successful, I just wanted to get high.
And so you know the story, I couldn’t find enough drugs to get high, and so someone came up to me in New Orleans and said, “Why don’t you move to heroin and cocaine? Why are you fooling with pharmaceutical drugs when you can get it off the street?” And within a few months, I was addicted to heroin and cocaine. I began to sell drugs in the city of New Orleans, to make it, and was selling everything from GHB to marijuana, to Ecstasy pills. And I tell you all that not to impress you with where I was, but just to impress upon you how far the Lord has brought me.
Through that three year period, from 2000-2003, I lost eight friends to alcohol and drug-related deaths; six of them went to jail. I was the only guy that was really spared through that whole time. I went to two rehab treatments, and the reason I went to two was because I tried to do it on my own, on my own strength, on my own power. And I realized that every time I tried to rely on me, I always failed. And finally in 2002, November 12, just 7 ½ years ago, I got on my knees. It wasn’t in a church, it wasn’t in a revival service. In fact, I’d never been to church in a while. And I cried out to the Lord, and I said, “Lord, if you’re real, if you’re the God of the universe, and you save me from this mess I was in….” At that time, John, I had $180 addiction to heroin and cocaine. And what that means is, every day I woke up, to live, I needed that to make it. I cried out to the Lord, I said, “If you set me free from this addiction, I’ll devote my life to you for the rest of my life.”
Ankerberg: Yeah, by that time, you had lost everything. You’d lost you house, you’d lost all your stuff, you’d even stolen some money from your dad.
Gallaty: Yeah, it had gotten so bad, the people that were there for me, the people that supported me and were a sounding board, my parents, I robbed my own dad for $15,000. I went to his wallet and memorized his credit card number without him knowing, and stole from my own parents. And they kicked me out. I’ll never forget the phone call. My mom called and said, “Robby, uh, we want you to know, we found out what you did. Your father is furious, I’m disappointed. Don’t ever come back to this house again.”
Anyway, long story short, I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and spent 24 hours with Christ. The next day, I went to my father and I said, “Dad, God’s called me to preach, I’m going into ministry.” My dad looks at me and he says, “Son, how are you going to get married one day by being a priest?” And I said, “No, not a priest, Dad.” And God began to work in my life.
But for the next six months what happened to me was something that happens to a lot of new believers: I just wandered. I didn’t know how to read the Bible, didn’t know I should read the Bible every day, didn’t know how to memorize scripture, didn’t know how to pray. I knew these rote prayers from the past, but I didn’t know how to develop a relationship to hear the Lord speak to me. And so I was wandering for while. And someone came up to me at church and said, “Robby, you’re like a Timothy. You need a Paul, like the apostle Paul.” And I had heard about Paul from the Bible, I’d just started to read it. And so, I began to pray. And for a few months I prayed. And one day at church a man by the name of David Platt, who’s now a pastor in Birmingham, comes up to me and he says, “Robby, would you be interested in meeting once a week to study the Bible, to pray and to memorize scripture?” I said, “David, I would love to meet.” He said, “Why don’t you pray about it?” I said, “I already have. When do we meet?” And so we began to meet every week.
And, John, he poured his life into me for the next six months, invested in me. And then the beginning of the next year, I met a man by the name of Tim LaFleur. Tim had been on the college campus of Nicholls State University, and he has developed and discipled men for the past 20 years on that campus. He brought me to Glorieta, New Mexico, for a camp. And for three months, every day, morning and night, he poured his life into me. And so, here we are 7 ½ years later. And the reason I’m so passionate about discipleship is because I’m a product of discipleship. That’s because of who I am, that’s where I am, is because men have invested in my own life.
Ankerberg: Alright. You’ve got a fabulous story, we’re going to refer back to it every once in a while here. But I feel, I want this program to be so practical to the folks that are listening at home, okay? Folks know about the Great Commission. You know, Jesus made the astonishing statement, “All authority has been given to me, in heaven and in earth.” That can only mean He’s claiming to be God, okay? He’s in charge of heaven, He’s in charge of everything on earth. And on that basis, He says, “Go, and make disciples.” Alright, people understand that.
But I think a lot of church members – and I was one of them – they have no intention of really getting in the game. When I came to the spot of saying, “Lord, I will try.” That was tougher than getting saved, okay? You know, getting saved was just putting your hand out and saying, “Jesus, I want your free gift and I need my sins forgiven, and I need to have a personal relationship with you.” But for me to say something to somebody else, I thought my reputation would be shot. I told the Lord, “Okay, I will do this, but I’ll tell you what, Lord, I’ll be lousy at it. I don’t know the answers, I am not a speaker, I don’t speak at church, I’m not a Sunday School teacher, I don’t know how to do this. Nothing’s going to happen, but if you want me to try this, I will try this.” And I started and all of the rest of my life, including 30 years of being on television, came out of that decision where I thought God could hardly ever use me.
Gallaty: Yeah.
Ankerberg: Okay? But I made that decision. Now, what would you say to people to encourage them to get off the bench and get into the game of actually trying to be a teacher or a mentor to somebody, and disciple them to encourage them?
Gallaty: Yeah, it’s a great question. A lot of people know the mandate to make disciples. In Matthew, like you’ve quoted, Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples.” It’s a command, so we know we’re commanded to go. But secondly, at the end of the command, Jesus gives us the promise. He says, “Listen, when you make disciples, I will be with you till the end of the age.” And so, what’s interesting is, when you enter into a discipleship relationship, it’s no longer you and two or three others, it’s you and two or three others and the Lord. The Lord’s presence is there and He meets you there through the process.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I think, I think that’s one of the things I want to tell people, is I never realized that when I started this, and I had all those problems, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know, you know, what the people were going to ask me and what I would do then. But I started. But when I started meeting with people and we started just reading the verses and praying together, that I didn’t recognize that the back promise that comes with the Great Commission, that “I will be with you always,” if you want Jesus to show up in your Christian life, and a lot of folks in surveys say that their Christian life is static or going backwards, they don’t have a real relationship, it’s not real. If you want it to be real, start to meet with somebody and encourage them. And what I saw is, it was one thing for me to pray, but when I listened to my friend or friends pray, it did something to me.
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: God was speaking to me. When we read the verses, when they read the verses and said, “Okay, we’re going to actually put this into practice in our life,” that did something to me. So the Holy Spirit, God Himself, showed up in these meetings and was teaching me as much as I was sharing with somebody else. And that’s one of the things that happens. The other thing that I learned is that the encouragement to me was greater than I ever expected. The reality of having God answer prayer, which we’re going to talk about, one of the things is prayer. When we started praying together, Jesus said, “If two or three get together in my name, I’m right there in the midst.” Well, I can tell you that’s true, and God answers prayer. I can remember when people would ask me, “Listen, my mother tried to commit suicide last night. Do you think that we could pray and God would do something for her?” And I had to think about that. Is God big enough to handle that kind of a problem?
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: And you know, “Call unto me and I answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not,” Jeremiah 33. “Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” And I looked at these verses, and I thought, “God, do you really mean that?” And I would say, “We’re going to pray, and I believe on the basis of God’s word that, yeah, He will get involved; He will help.” And I’ve seen people, when we’ve prayed for them, the mom got saved. And we would bring a ton of high school or college kids into their homes and she would love, she’d bake stuff for us. It was a complete transformation, like in your life.
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: But I never realized that, until we started to actually look at the verses and to pray. And I would just encourage people. We’re going to take a BREAK , and we’re going to come back and we’re going to talk about more of how you disciple someone, and how actually God gets involved, and how exciting it can be for your Christian life, and that you can do it. When we get back, we’re going to talk about, when you have a person, how do choose a person, Robby?
Gallaty: Yeah.
Ankerberg: How do you choose somebody to say, like that fellow said to you, “Hey, Robby, would you be interested in meeting together and talking about the things of the Lord, reading the Bible and praying together?” You know, how do you pick out that person? And then when you have that first meeting, what do you say? How do you outline where we’re going to go in terms of the future, okay? We’re going to talk about these practical things of how you disciple someone else when we come right back. Stick with us.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking about Jesus’ command, “Go into all the world, make disciples.” We’re talking about you meeting with a friend, with you encouraging someone at church, maybe meeting with a neighbor. How do you do it, okay? If you actually decide to get into the game, what are the practical things you need to do? And we’ve got one of the premier Bible teachers in our country, Robby Gallaty, who is here talking about these things. And we’re sharing with you some of the stories of how we’ve actually done this. And, Robby, once you decide to get into the game, you’re going to obey Jesus’ command, you don’t know what to do. Let’s talk about: How do you start? How do you even know who to approach? How do you pick out a person to encourage or disciple?
Gallaty: Yeah. It’s interesting. We look at Jesus for our example, obviously. And Jesus started with prayer. He went up to the mountain before He chose the 12 men who would follow Him, serve with Him, live with Him, and He prayed. And so, for the person interested in discipleship, getting into the game, obviously, it’s important to pray, “God, send me people who have a desire to learn.” That’s one of the criteria we need for discipleship. You want to work with someone who wants to learn. And I get that from the word “disciple.”
It’s interesting, the word “disciple” is used in the Bible 238 times in the Gospels, 269 times in the whole New Testament, compared to the word, Christian, that’s only used three times. So the question we ask people is, “What is Jesus interested in, Christians or making disciples?” And so the answer is disciples.
That word “disciple” is interesting, because it’s the word “apprentice.” It’s the word for “learner;” it’s the word for someone who has desire to grow and develop. And so that’s the first criteria. You ask the person, “Are you interested in learning or growing?” Now, you don’t do this. I’ve learned the hard way. Me, in my early 30’s, it’s hard for me to go up to someone who’s 50 or maybe 60 and say these words, “Would you be interested in me discipling you?” That’s probably not a good way to do it, because they may say, “Well, what are you going to teach me?” A better way to do it would be to do it this way, “Would you be interested in learning about the Bible together? Would you be interested in studying the word together? Would you be interested in holding one another accountable to each other, or memorizing scripture, or even praying together?” And I’ve found a lot of people would be open to that. If you just ask them, they’ll be open to doing that.
Ankerberg: There’s a ton of people, Robby. I mean, this is not hard to do. People think it’s hard, but there are folks that need encouragement all over the place.
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: Alright. And if you just ask them, they will tell you. If they don’t want to meet, they’ll tell you. But there’s more people that would like to meet, they would like to share something confidentially with somebody, they would like to get some advice from the word of God from somebody who’s not the pastor.
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: They would actually like to talk to somebody who is a lay person, who really knows the Lord. You know and I know people, there are certain lay people that when you ask them to pray, they really pray for you. And you kind of, you know, look for them again whenever you have a tough time. If you would approach folks and say you’re interested in them, you want to encourage them, would they like to meet together? These folks will say, “Yes.” Now, let’s say the person says yes, and scares you to death, okay. How do you decide where to meet? And when you do meet, what’s the first thing you say?
Gallaty: Yeah, great questions. I would suggest meeting away from church. And the reason I suggest this is Jesus never met to teach the disciples in the synagogue. You would think He would, as a rabbi, but He didn’t. He would always take these men out into the world. And so I suggest to people I’m discipling, “Let’s not meet at the church. Let’s meet out at a restaurant; let’s meet out at a complex; let’s meet out at a gym; at a table; and let’s talk out in the community.” And what this does is, it gets them out of their comfort zone. You know, they start to think, it’s okay to read my Bible at a restaurant; it’s okay to pray in public; and so it gets them out of their comfort zone.
People ask me all of the time, how often should we meet? Should we meet once a week? Should we meet twice a week? And I would suggest – this is not a hard and fast rule – but I would suggest to meet once a week. It’s important that you meet at least once a week. You can meet more than that, but I find that once a week’s good, because it gets them the opportunity to process what you talk about. Now, they call me all the time, like people call you, and so it’s not a once a week commitment, it’s an all the time commitment, where they’ll call me for prayer requests, they’ll call me for questions about the word. And so it’s good to start with once a week.
Ankerberg: Yeah. When I was at the university, I figured out the only time where I could get together with the folks I was discipling was 6:00 in the morning. And I asked the guy that had a restaurant and there was a back room that was not being used, and I said, “If we come in there and have some BREAK fast each of these mornings, would you mind? And could we just have a little privacy?” He says, “No problem.” He said, “Be glad to have the business.” So, we had this beautiful back room. I used to have to get up at 5:00 to drive downtown in Chicago to get there at 6:00. And we spent from 6:00-7:00 and then we took off for class. And, I mean, that was tough getting up. But I tell you what, that hour of time with those folks, you know – we met three times or more a week – was key in all of our lives, in terms of growing with the Lord, keeping accountable to each other. Now, let’s talk about this thing of how do you set that up? How do you say, “I want to be accountable to you and you want to be accountable to me.” And how does that actually work?
Gallaty: Yeah, accountability is a huge part of the discipleship process. And what accountability is, is this, you give the right to another person to ask you the tough questions. You give the right to another person to ask you about your personal walk with the Lord. Are you in habitual sin? Do you have problems in your marriage? Are you developing? Are you reading the word? Are you memorizing scripture? And so accountability is really at the heart of the discipleship process. Accountability, I’ve found, works well in a smaller setting, because some people ask, “Well, how big should the group be? Should it be five, should it be ten?” I’ve found it should be no more than four total – you and three people. Preferably you and two people would be ideal. I wouldn’t suggest one on one. And the reason is, is when you have just one person, you, as the disciple maker, feel like you have to continue to keep the questions coming, almost like a tennis match. So you’re constantly hitting the ball over the net to the other person, they hit it back, and you feel like you have to keep the ball in play, in order to keep the conversation going.
Ankerberg: Yeah. The other thing, Robby, let me interrupt you on this one, is that I’ve found that when you start these things and you start talking, stuff just comes up.
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: Okay. I mean, let’s talk about those two things of stuff coming up, but the fact is, how do you lay out where you’re going to go? And then talk about stuff just coming up in everyday life.
Gallaty: Yeah. I sign, most of the time with the men I disciple, whether physically or verbally, a covenant. And I believe that we have to do that. We need to let people know that this is a real commitment, that this isn’t a casual time of meeting. This is serious business. We’re going to develop a personal walk with the Lord. We’re going to grow in our faith. And so I tell them right up front, if you don’t think you can meet with me for the next 12-18 months, then it’s probably not the right time for you. And so when you enter into a relationship with me, it’s a covenant for the next 12-18 months.
And then, after that, we begin to pray together and ask the Lord to bless our time with one another. And then I give them kind of an outline for the group. And what I believe, John, is this. We live in a world today where people think if you tell people how to behave, they’ll act right. But that’s not biblical. What God always did is, He taught them what to believe, and when your belief’s right, your behavior will follow. Always through the Bible, Paul talks about it all the time. He tells them in Ephesians what to believe in the first three chapters, and then he transitions, “Because of what I’ve told you, now this is how you should live.” Well, the same thing goes for the discipleship process. And so we begin to talk about doctrinal issues, theological issues. But don’t miss this: the point of learning these doctrines or this theology is not to fill your mind with information; it’s not transactional, it’s transformational. And so, it’s important at the end of the lesson, at the end of the time, to say, “Because of what we’ve learned, now, this is how you should live. Because of what you know, this is how you should act.”
Ankerberg: Yeah, we’re going to talk more about this thing of things happening inside the group. And I can tell you from personal experience, when you say “pray,” and you pray around in your group, they ask you questions about prayer, “Can we pray about this?”
Gallaty: Yes.
Ankerberg: And you’re talking about real situations, so when you do this you’re going to learn from real experience that God’s going to answer prayer for the whole group. And you’re going to see specific things happen. When you get down to witnessing, in terms of people, you just can’t say, “Go and witness.” You have to say, “This is how you do it.” And then every one of my people has always said, “We’ll go with you and we’ll watch you do it first.”
Gallaty: That’s right.
Ankerberg: And until I took them out, and went with them and showed them how, they did not believe it could happen for them. And then I went with them and they did it, okay, and watched them do it.
Then, you know, I actually put another phone into my house when I was at the university. In fact, I had two phones, for people who had specific problems that I came in contact with, that, I knew when that phone rang, it was this group of people over here that had these kinds of problems. And that was just the nature of what I was dealing with.
And we’re going to talk more about that. But here’s the thing, is that, if you just let the Lord work in these situations, and if you start, it can be a great joy. It’ll be an encouragement to you. The Bible will come alive, which we’re going to talk about next week – what is the place of the Bible in discipleship? Prayer will come alive. We’re going to talk about that as well. We’re going to talk about this thing of how you share your faith. What do you say and how does it happen? And then, you know, what happens. We’ll talk next week about what do you do when somebody drops out, or somebody says, “I’m not willing to go that far?” How do you deal with those kinds of situations?
So, folks, we’re talking about the real things that you are going to encounter if you would decide to obey the Lord Jesus and say, “I will try to encourage somebody. I will try to meet with them, disciple them in the Bible, in these things, so they can replicate themselves. Somewhere along the line, they can start doing this with somebody else.
I hope that you enjoy this and that God will use this in your life to do a great work. So, again, I’m inviting you, come back next week. We’re going to talk about the second part, what is the place of the Bible in discipleship? Join us then.


Read Part 2


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