Making Disciples - Part 4

What Kinds of Discipleship Tools Are Needed? – Part 4


Randy Pope

President of Life on Life Ministries



In our last video I had just introduced the idea of having culturally relevant and effective tools. Very, very important. Let me just explain that a little bit. Imagine that you are a person who has never built any furniture, and for whatever reason you decided you’re going to try to build a piece of furniture.

So, your mind is set. Remember that word, mindset. So, you’ve got the right mindset—I’m going to build this piece of furniture. In doing so you, you have the raw materials, you’ve got everything you need there, but then you realize, whoa, I don’t have any tools. You have no tools whatsoever. And with that, you become hopeless. You become unwilling. You finally say, I just can’t do it.

That’s the story of countless numbers of want-to-be disciple makers. They’re saying I really have the mindset that I should make disciples. I really do. But you realize that I just don’t have the tools and really the equipping to use those tools.

I’m telling you, this is a global story. Wherever we go, there are people who say I want to be disciple makers, but they don’t have the tools and the equipping of those tools. They just don’t become disciple makers.

What I’d like to do is take you back a little bit. In the seventies, before I came to Atlanta, I came from a Southern, rural community. It was a small city. And it was just what you would expect to find in the seventies. It was a very religious, moralistic type of people. Most people went to church. Most people would even say they were Christians. They were fine with Christianity. They may not actually live it. They may not embrace it fully for them, but everybody had a positive outlook about the Bible and Jesus what Christianity teaches.

So, I learned how to use some tools there. They were not culturally relevant for today, but they were fine then. I could talk to people using the tools that I’d learned, and I’d basically come to a point and say, “Would you like to receive Jesus?” And I typically would hear something like this: “Well, boy. Yeah. Maybe, I don’t know. I really don’t want to kind of surrender.” But the key was, they were not saying, “I can’t believe that Jesus is the only way to God.” They weren’t saying, “I don’t believe the Bible is God’s word.” And eventually I got so effective at the use of those tools that it did become normative to see a lot of people who would say, “Yes, I surrender.”

So that was their issue. They had not surrendered, but they believed it all. And so, it seemed fairly simple to use the tools, which were very simple tools to use. And I just thought, “Well, this is not that hard.”

Then I moved to Atlanta. When I came to Atlanta, I found a very secular, humanistic people, and they didn’t believe the Bible as I did. They didn’t believe about the nature of man like the Bible teaches. They didn’t believe any of it. And so, when I would use the tools that I was used to using, well, I’m telling you, they’d look at me and say, “Your crazy.” I felt kind of felt like Barney Fife.

If you can go back to the old television series, Barney, if you remember, if you don’t, don’t worry, but he had one bullet in his pocket. He had that bullet, and he loaded that one bullet, and he could only use that one bullet. I was the Barney Fife of evangelism. I had my one bullet. And it worked pretty well where I’d come from. I would shoot, and I could aim pretty well. Pow! Hit `em right between the eyes. And many would give their hearts to Christ. But now it was a different deal. I’d say, “Well, would you like to receive Jesus?”

And they’d go, “No.”

And I go, “Why not?”

“Well, for one, I just don’t believe, like you do, that this Bible is so accurate. Number two. I don’t believe I’m such a bad person. Why do I even need this God you’re talking about? And number three, I don’t believe that Jesus is the one way to get to God, if there even is a God, of course.”

I’m sitting there going, “Well, um, besides that, do you feel like you’re getting close?”

And it was ridiculous no they’re not getting close, not at all. And I realized when I got here to Atlanta, we have to have new tools. What I realized was not only did I need new tools, but if I expected to build a church that was going to be flooded with disciple makers, then I had to have tools that would work for me and that could be modeled and used by others.

And for them, who would not have the education that I would have, biblically speaking, could I find tools that could be simple and effective? Culturally relevant enough that they would actually use them. I realized then there were basically four kinds of tools that were needed. Let me list them.

Number one, there was what I call introductory tools. And by introductory tools, I’m talking about things that would help me know how to get into an opportunity to invite someone into investigating, exploring, and just finding out more about Christianity. I knew that you had to find the right timing, and in a future video, I’m going to go into that. How do you know when it’s time to invite them into a discussion or whatever it might be? But, I will hold that for a little bit later. But knew this you’ve got to meet for an extended period of time and make sure that they’re ready for that time to investigate. The question is, when that time comes, do I have the tools to do that? So, we began to develop some introductory tools.

I love to illustrate the use of the tools, and this just shows how valuable tools are. I invite the men in my discipleship group to bring somebody who’s in their realm of friendship to meet for lunch. So there’s three of us, and I’m going to model for them how to invite a friend to investigate. So I say to them, “You bring that person to me, and we’ll have lunch.”

Well, a new guy in my group, he says, “I know who I need to bring, but I just, I don’t know. I don’t want to bring them.”

And I said, “Why not?”

“Well, because I don’t really like him. He doesn’t like me. He’s about to be my brother-in-law, and you know, I just don’t think I want to do that.”

Well, I said, “Just bring him and we’ll see.”

So, he agrees, but he said, “Randy, this is not going to be good. I will promise you. This is not going to work out.” So, we meet there at the restaurant, and there’s a quiet but obvious tension there.

I see it as I walk in. They’re already there. I sit down. “Hey Jim.”

He sticks out his hand and he says, “Listen, I’m a Baptist, so I’m okay with God. Are we good? We good?”


Now how many of you at that point would go, “Oops. Uh, okay. No more.”

Well, typically I wouldn’t press on either, except I knew had the right tool, and it wouldn’t hurt if he did not go further. So, with that, I said, “Can I just do this? Can I show you a little diagram? And it will take just a few minutes. And after that, if you’re not interested in talking any further, we won’t talk about anything that has to do with spiritual stuff. Would you, would you be willing?”

 And he says, “Yeah, go ahead.”

I show him this little diagram. As I finished the diagram he says, “So, you don’t mind meeting with me for four weeks?”

I said, “No, not if you would do what I asked you to do. Read a little bit of Bible every week” (I had outlined kind of what I’d want him to do).

And he said, “Oh no, I’d be happy to do that.”

And so, we leave the lunch, we set up our next time to meet together.

I’m driving home. My phone rings in the car and it’s the man in my discipleship group and he’s crying.

And I thought, oh, something’s happened. I said, “What’s wrong?”

He said, “No, it’s not anything wrong, but I just got a phone call from my sister. And she asked what just happened? That her fiancé just called her and said he had met with a preacher wants to meet with him for several weeks to talk about God. What happened?”

As I was talking to the man in my discipleship group, I said, “Let me ask you a question. Did you see or hear me do anything that was kind of amazing? Like, wow. How did he do that?”

And this was his true response. He said, “No, anybody could have done what you did.”

And that was my point. I said, “You know, once you get the right tool and the right equipping, it really is something that just anybody can do. If you have the right mindset and get the right tools.”

The second kind of tool that I realized was needed would be a primary tool. I think that everybody should have one go-to primary tool that they get well equipped in and feel I’m feel very good about that particular tool.

For us, it’s what we call Life Issue booklets. There are four little booklets, very brief. About six pages answering one of four very critical questions that people would be interested in reading about. In the back of each booklet, is about five chapters of the gospel of John with some little questions in the margin.

That’s it, and it’s a great, very simple, easy to use tool. In the next video I’ll be showing you why this little tool is so effective.

The third kind of tools that we need are what I call, support tools. I imagine that when you become a Christian, you get a tool belt put around you, it’s an invisible tool belt and you need fill it with tools and with the right tools. Sometimes you need a particular type of tool that’s unique to what most people would be using. Those are what I like to call support tools. For instance, I meet somebody who is Jewish. Well, I’ve got to have something a little different for them, obviously, because there’s some assumptions and things that they’re going to have different than most people that we’re meeting with. I need a tool for people who are very religious, moral people that assume they’re Christians, but by your discernment they don’t understand the real gospel. They don’t understand the work of Jesus. It may be somebody who is so close to you, like a brother, sister, parent, and you go, wow, how would I deal with them? And so, you might need something a little different.

Now this is not a different primary tool, but it’s a different support tool, but the list goes on and on. There’s seven or eight support tools that I love to train our people with to have in their tool belts just in case.

The fourth and final tool is a follow up tool. In other words, what if somebody indicates their interest in receiving Jesus, and, as best we can tell, they have yielded their life to the Lord. That’s one of the reasons you want to follow up. To help them grow, to see if there is real fruit, and real assurance and all other kinds of issues that need to be covered. And so, we have a little tool, similar to the Life Issues, but these are called Next Steps booklets. They have a little bit of the book of Romans, chapters one through eight, with two chapters every week. And then they have very simple, 5 or 6 pages, of content that answers one of the most important questions that people need to understand as one who has just surrendered their heart to the Lord. For instance, how do I know that I’m a Christian? How do I grow as a Christian? And so forth.

So again, just a little set of booklets, but it’s a tool that people can say, “At least I now know what to do if someone indicates a profession of faith in Jesus.”

After years of using these tools, I began to realize that there are several characteristics, in fact, numerous characteristics that make these tools culturally relevant and effective for this day and age.

In the next two videos I will address the four characteristics that I think are most critical in understanding why these tools are so effective.


If you would rather read this series, you can download the Making and Training disciples booklets here.