Dare to Disciple: Practical Steps to Mentoring Believers/Program 5

By: Dr. Robby Gallaty; ©2010
Some powerful biblical and practical principles for sharing our faith in Christ with others. Whether a person in your office, a neighbor, friend from school, or someone on the other side of the planet, God has given us a message worth sharing with the entire world. He wants to use you to be His messenger.


Announcer: What do you think is the main thing, the number one thing, 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 others. 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. We’re talking about how you can make disciples; the practical aspects of: What do you do? What do you say? A lot of folks know Jesus’ Great Commission, “Go into all the world… make disciples,” okay. But they don’t ever apply it to themselves. They say, “I’m not a pastor, I’m not a teacher, I’ve never even taught a Sunday School class, so how in the world do you expect me to actually,… to do this with another person? I’ve never done it before. I wouldn’t know what to say.”
I’m saying to you, we’re trying to give you the practical aspects of how you could risk, to get into the game, and obey your Lord, and try this out; that the Lord will help you and your Christian life will become exciting. It will become dynamic. You’ll see God work through you in ways you never dreamed possible. I can only say that on the basis that I felt I could never do this. When I became a Christian and I recognized Jesus’, “Go into the world… make disciples,” and I looked at my friends at school and I thought, “I don’t know what to say. I’ve never done this before. I don’t think… you know, if people ask me a question, I won’t know the answer to it. I’d be a disaster doing this.” I had all the reasons why I shouldn’t do it. And finally I said, “Lord, okay, I will obey you. I will try. If I fail, at least I tried.” And the fact is, God helped me along the way. We’re trying to talk about how God would help you if you would risk this, and help.
Now, I’ve invited one of the premier Bible teachers in our country, Robby Gallaty, to be our guest. And he has a big church, 3200 members, four services on Sunday. And yet he’s also got, as a priority, discipling individuals. And over seven, seven-and-a-half years here, you have discipled 30 individuals. And half of that group is already out the door now, and they are discipling other people themselves, which is one of the things we’re going to talk about: how you finally kick them out and you say, “Okay, it’s time for you to go out and you need to replicate yourself.”
But, Robby, take us back to how somebody discipled you; how easy it was for you to come into that relationship simply because they asked you to. And I want you to encourage the folks that this is how they could ask somebody to come into a discipleship relationship with them.
Gallaty: Yeah. It’s really simple, John. And it’s easy to do. We really get nervous and scared because we don’t think people would want to do this. But we’d be surprised how many people would, if we just asked. I was praying for a few months when David Platt came up to me and asked me, “Robby, would you be interested in studying the Bible, praying together and memorizing Scripture?” And my answer was yes. And he said, “Well, why don’t you pray about it?” And I said, “I don’t have to. I already have.”
And so we met for about six months. And then another man, by the name of Tim LeFleur, came into my life, and he discipled me as well. And I was challenged when these men showed me that this was a biblical mandate, not just a mandate from the Lord, as we know in Matthew 28:18-20, “Go therefore and make disciples.” And that mandate is for everyone. So we should be encouraged. It wasn’t just for the super-apostles, it wasn’t just for the disciples, it was for everyone, and still is today.
Ankerberg: Yeah. And I think we need to tell folks that before they asked you, as a new Christian you were floundering, okay. You went back and forth, and you really needed help…
Gallaty: Yes
Ankerberg: …and, I mean, you were a tough customer. You had come out of a pretty terrible life of sin over on this side. And the fact is, when they looked at you, somebody had to say, “Robby, I’d like to encourage you. I want to help you.” Talk about that aspect.
Gallaty: Yeah. I was probably the most unlikely guy at church. I had come out of a life of addiction to drugs, heroin and cocaine. I was 6’6”; I was 290 pounds; I was fighting in this “no-holds-barred” fighting when I came to the Lord. And the shortest of all guys – I mean David Platt was 5’9”, 5’10” – and he asked me if I wanted to be in a discipleship group. And it’s interesting, because he didn’t judge me on the cover; he didn’t judge a book by its cover; he didn’t look at me on the outside and say, “There’s no way this guy wants to be discipled.” And that’s interesting for us to remember, is that we shouldn’t judge people on the way they look.
I remember the first discipleship group I had. One of the men that I asked to be in the group was in prison at the time I met him. His mom had called me – she was a member of the church – and she said, “My son just got arrested for drugs and armed robbery.” And she said, “He’s in jail, he’s facing 12 years. Can you talk to him?” I called him on the phone and I said, “I believe God could rescue you from this situation, if you turn your life completely over to Him.” And by God’s grace, miraculously, he got out of prison.
And he began to meet with me. This guy was the most unlikely candidate. The first meeting, I said, “What do you think of God?” He said, “God is an energy force and we’re all just energy, you and I.” I said, “Well, that’s interesting. Where’d you learn that from?” He said, “Well, I kind of figured that out.” I said, “Well, I’d rather base my life on the Bible.” I began to teach him about the Bible. Today, that man has surrendered to the ministry, John. He feels called to missions and he’s serving the Lord. And so, just a miraculous case of what God could do with someone if you invest in them.
Ankerberg: Alright. Let’s kind of rehearse what we’ve said in the previous programs in terms of, you invite a person to come in, and they say, “Yeah, I’d love to do that,” okay. When you have that first meeting, where do you have it and what do you say?
Gallaty: Yeah. You could have it anywhere. I would suggest away from church, just to do it out in the community. You could do it at a coffee shop; you can do it at a bookstore; you can do it on BREAK time; you can do it at the office; you can do it at home. If you’re a stay-at-home mom you can do it in your house. And it should last for about an hour, maybe an hour and fifteen minutes. You should study the Word together. And I’ve given a system on how to do that based on the acronym “HEAR.” You should pray together. You should pray for one another. You should hold each other accountable for Scripture memory. And then you should confess to one another if there’s anything in your life that you need prayer for, to be accountable for one another in that group.
Ankerberg: Yeah. I think that it’s important to say, you say, once a week and we’re going to try to meet together at certain such-and-such a spot. I think university students have a place where they usually congregate; businessmen usually have that business lunch someplace, they’ve got to have that lunch and it makes it appropriate to have that. Doctors with doctors, and nurses with nurses, and teachers have…. Everybody’s got their time where it seems like it’s appropriate to meet with some folks. And I’d say when those times are there, once a week, invite these folks to meet with you.
Now, when you start to learn the Word of God, what’s the priority? When you talk about, the fact is, that first meeting, of saying, “Look, we’re going to go through this together for this approximate amount of time,” how do you lay out the future for them?
Gallaty: Yeah. I try to lay out a plan. And I didn’t say this up to this point, but I should say it now. The point of the whole process, the goal of the discipleship process, is so that these men or women will one day replicate themselves in the life of another. So the process of discipleship is not complete until the men you have invested in repeat the process in the life of another person. And so knowing that and believing that, all through the process I’m planting seeds. I might not say it up front, because if you get some people in a group and you say, “Hey, listen guys, at the end of this you’re going to mentor someone else; you’re going to coach someone else,” they might say, “Whoa! I’m not interested in this.”
But at the beginning I say, “You and I are going to enter into a covenant. And for the next year to a year-and-a-half, we’re going to be accountable to one another.” Now, at that point, some people may say, “That’s too much for me. I’m not interested in this.” And it’s okay to let them go, because what you’re looking for is people who want to be discipled, people who have a desire to grow, people who have a desire to learn.
Ankerberg: Yeah. Take us through this biblically. You’ve got 2 Timothy 2:2. Take us through that, then take us through the life of Jesus, how He actually modeled this.
Gallaty: Yeah. In 2 Timothy 2:2, the apostle Paul, at the end of his life, tells Timothy, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who are able to teach others also.” And within that one verse you have four generations of discipleship. Paul said, “What you have heard from me,” Paul to Timothy – 1 and 2; “Timothy, you entrust to faithful men,” – 2 and 3; “who are able to teach others also,” – 3 and 4. And so we see this in this process.
Now, some people might be saying, “Why is this important?” And I think we have to rely on the life of Jesus. Imagine if you go home today, John, and somebody says, “I’m going to give you the cure for cancer. I have found it and I’m going to entrust you with that information.” What would you do with that information? You just found the cure for cancer; you could change the course of the world. You’d get on the television, you would put ads in the newspaper, you’d get on the radio, and you’d say, “I have found the greatest cure, the cure for cancer.”
Well, imagine God in His infinite wisdom. When Jesus Christ came to the world He doesn’t have a cure for cancer, He has the cure for sin. And the problem with cancer and sin is, at the end of your life, cancer ends physically, sin goes on for eternity. So Jesus Christ has the greatest news in all the world. And I’ve often wondered, as I read the New Testament, why didn’t Jesus walk around with a big cloud over His head with an arrow that said, “Salvation is here”? I mean, that would have been pretty easy to see: “Wow, I guess salvation is here!” Or why didn’t God, from an eternal megaphone in the clouds, say, “Jesus is Lord!” I mean, that would have been easy.
But Jesus decides to entrust the greatest message of the world, not through a cloud or not through a megaphone, but to entrust it to 12 men. One of them turned on Him. But because of those 12 men, we’re here today. And so we see it was Plan A for the Lord. There was no other plan to take the message of discipleship, the message of God, the message of redemption to the world than through those twelve men.
Ankerberg: One time I was taking a group of people on a tour through the seven churches of the book of Revelation. And as we were going along the coast of Turkey, I said, “If I dropped you off here” – and there was, say, about 100 people – I said, “If I dropped you off here and I came back in 300 years, would this entire area, all the way to Spain, be Christian?” I mean, you’ve got to recognize you had 12 guys that started down here in Jerusalem, and then they went up across Asia Minor, they went across the Greek Empire, and they went across Rome, and then all the way to Spain. And in 300 years the Empire became Christian.
Or another way of saying it, Robby, I think we used this illustration before, and that is that Jesus was the original water. And if you see a little pipe coming down and Jesus had that water coming through His pipe, and then there were 12 other pipes, the disciples. And He gave them the job of spreading that water. And the water came down through the pipes. And by the way, all the way through these last 1900 years, 2000 years, the fact is, that water has come down all the way to us. Now, the question is, will we continue that water, through us, to the people around us, or will we stop the water? Will the water stop with us because we didn’t tell somebody else, we didn’t disciple somebody else?
Gallaty: Yeah. People ask me, “How long should you meet with people in a discipleship group?” I would say 12 to 18 months. Some groups, you can learn faster, and you develop a closer relationship; some it takes a little bit longer. But I would say no more than two years. And the reason is, is you want them to see that the goal of this is not just to be filled with information, but you’re trying to experience transformation in their life.
When I left my former church to come to Brainerd in Chattanooga, one of the things that happened was, I had a group of three guys that I had stayed with for two years. These guys were so indebted with me, they had known me well, they loved me, and I appreciated them as well. And when I left, I sat down and told those guys, first, that the Lord was calling me to Chattanooga. And with tears in their eyes they said, “What are we going to do? We don’t know how to do this without you. We don’t know how to disciple. We don’t know how to mentor.” And I said, “Guys, you do.” And they still didn’t believe that until I left. And I’ll never forget, I was here about two months and they called me on the phone and they said, “Robby, you’re never going to believe this. All three of us are now mentoring three or four guys ourselves.” And they got it.
It’s kind of like Jesus saying, ‘Listen, Peter, you can walk on water. You’ve just got to get out [of] the boat and try to do it.’ And that’s what they did. They got out of the boat and now they’re mentoring others as well.
Ankerberg: Alright. We’re going to take a BREAK . When we come back we’re going to talk about other folks that, when they got on their own, it actually worked for them. And the thrill of hearing those stories of people that you have trained. You can’t believe how God has used their life, but it’s a thrill when they tell you the stories. We want to talk about some of that. And, folks, we want to say this can happen to you. Stick with us. We’ll be right back.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with one of the premier Bible teachers in our country, Robby Gallaty. And we’re talking about the practical aspects of discipling folks. When you mentor someone in the faith, and you meet with them on a continual basis, the goal is for them to finally leave the group and disciple somebody else, to duplicate themselves. And Jesus, Robby, gave us the model for this. Take us through the model.
Gallaty: Jesus gave us the model in the New Testament. And what He did in the beginning was: Jesus worked and the disciples watched. If you remember, when Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, or even the beginning miracles, where He healed the leper, or He cleansed the man who was filled with the demons, they watched Him.
Then the second progression through the discipleship process is: Jesus worked, the disciples assisted. Remember the time when Jesus fed the 5,000. He gave the disciples the duty of handing out the food and then picking up the baskets. So, they’re interacting with Him in ministry.
The third progression is: the disciples now do the work and Jesus assists them. Remember the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus comes down from the mountain; He’s in the middle of this scene, where this boy is filled with a demon. His father comes to the disciples, “Can you guys do anything for me?” And then finally, they couldn’t. And Jesus comes down from the mountain. He says, “Back up.” He heals the man. And they ask Him afterwards, “Why could we not do that?” And Jesus said, “This kind only comes out from fasting and by prayer.”
And then the final progression is: the disciples worked and Jesus watched. Now, just a side note: Jesus never watches in ministry. He’s always actively participating. The Bible says He even prays for us now. The Holy Spirit indwells us, so we know that. But in the last section of the ministry of Jesus on the earth, He empowered the disciples to go out and He stayed back. And then after He sent the 72 out, they came back to Him and said, “Jesus, you’re never going to believe what happened. We cast out demons. We prophesied in Your name.”
And so that’s the progression we use in our discipleship process. We mentor people, we model it, and then we ask them to move on and do it themselves.
Ankerberg: Yeah. Let’s talk about sharing the faith with others. Eventually you’ve got to teach folks how to share the faith. And if you’re going to disciple others, we talked about first of all you’ve got to be a disciple yourself. You’re relying upon the Lord Jesus for your strength and for the answers and for making this thing work.
But eventually, if folks are going to share their faith with someone else, it comes back to the leader, the mentor. And they’ll say, “Okay, I kind of basically know the verses and I know the outline and I know the gospel, the wonderful gospel that ‘God so loved the world He gave His only (special, unique) Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish.’ I know all that, okay. But I want you to show me how it works.” And I remember people coming to me and saying, “Look, we’re going to watch you do it, okay. And when we see you doing it and folks coming to know the Lord, then we’re going to have the courage that we can do it.”
Gallaty: Yeah.
Ankerberg: I can remember those moments where I would pray and say, “Lord, help me in this situation.” And I can remember leading folks to the Lord. This was when I was at the university. And I’d have folks go with me in the student union and I’d say, “Pick out the person.” And they’d pick out the toughest person they could find in the student union. And we’d go over there. I’d say, “Lord, you know, help us!” It didn’t work every time, but most of the time it did. And eventually, they would say, “Okay, we’ve seen you do it. Now go with us when we do it.” And you’d go with them and they would do it. And sometimes that has to take place when you’re mentoring folks in duplicating themselves. They want to have that assistance. They want to see you model it and then to do it. What else have you found?
Gallaty: Well, I think that lines up with the statistics. We’ve seen statistics recently that have said that 75% of church members, by their own admission, are either static or stagnant in their own Christian life. And I think one of the reasons for that is this: we have made “coming to church” as the end. And so people think, “If I just come to church and show up on Sunday and check a box, then I’m okay.” And we haven’t taken people by the hand and walked them through the discipleship process. We haven’t taught people how to feed themselves.
And I think it’s a great point, John. Not only do we need to teach them how to witness and tell people about Christ, but the modeling aspect goes beyond that. It’s how to live a holy life unto the Lord. It’s how to treat your wife or your husband. It’s how to raise kids. It’s how to live for the Lord in everyday situations. So, it’s important for us to realize that this modeling process goes beyond just witnessing; it’s an all-encompassing aspect of our life.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I think, Robby, of all of the church members that are listening to us right now, that are sitting in churches in this country, as well as around the world. Just think, if 50% of the members would actually get into the ballgame, get off the bench, get into the game, and invite somebody to meet with them once a week, for just an hour, for that one time a week, and they would study the Word of God, they’d be accountable to each other, they would pray, with the idea that eventually they would go out and duplicate themselves and replicate themselves down the line, alright. Can you picture our churches that way?
Gallaty: Yeah. And that’s where we need to go, John. Traditionally, the model is, “we need to focus on bodies, buildings, and budgets.” So the idea is you’re a successful church if you have a big building; or you’re a successful church if you have a great budget; or if you have a ton of people coming to your church. But what we’ve realized at Brainerd is this: we don’t want to grow a church “a mile wide and an inch deep.” We want to grow depth. And I’m reminded of what John MacArthur said to the Lord early in his ministry. He said, “Lord, I’ll focus on the depth. You focus on the breadth.” And that’s the mentality we need to have as believers, that we need to focus on individuals, to grow people deep and to understand the life of God.
Just like the Lord Jesus Christ said many years ago, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” The baton was handed down from the Lord Jesus Christ down to the apostles. Then the apostles handed it to the early Church fathers. Then through the centuries it has been handed down again. The baton has continually been passed down. And now today, the baton has been handed to us. And I just want to challenge people, look at your hands. The baton has been handed to you. And the question is, what’s going to happen at the end of our lives when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ, as we hand the Great King – not a queen of this country, but the King of the Universe – that baton back? Will He look at us and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant?”
I believe right now there are people waiting to be mentored and discipled. And I just want to challenge our audience: Who’s waiting in your life right now that you need to go and ask to see if they would enter into a discipleship relationship?
Ankerberg: Yeah. And, folks, if you want to be discipled, you can ask somebody that you respect, that you think could help you. And if, folks, you can’t find anybody, then find two or three other Christians that would have the commitment to obey the Word of God, that would want to meet together and pray and would hold each other accountable. I believe that this is something that God the Holy Spirit can supervise. I remember when I started growing up in the faith, the fact is, I didn’t have anybody to turn to. And it was a group of fellows that got together. We held each other accountable, and God taught us, and God worked with us, and God held us accountable. And we grew in the faith. And this can happen.
But I’m saying, if you are a Christian, invite somebody to meet with you, and dare to let God use you. I’m saying there are more people out there that would like to come in than you can handle, if you would just give God your life and say, “I will obey you.”
Now, I hope that all this information has been very, very helpful to you. We’re making available Robby’s book online. Anybody that purchases our series with Robby, our two series, we’ll make this available to you free online at our website. And it’s a wonderful, 120-page book: “Hearing God Speak,” how to read the Bible, how to memorize Scripture, how to pray, the very practical things that we’ve been talking about in this series.
Robby, thank you for coming and sharing all of this information with us. Thank you for being such a mentor to many people in terms of how do you actually disciple somebody else.

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