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Discipleship - Investing in People

I don’t know that I should be writing this, as it’s now 1:35 am (EDT), and my mind is a little foggy from traveling. Dave Smith and I began our journey home yesterday at 2:00 pm with a three-hour ride to the Kisumu, Kenya airport across roads that would be considered semi-impassable in America. From Kisumu, we flew to Nairobi for an eight-hour flight to Amsterdam, another seven-hour flight to Detroit, and then home, hopefully, around 1:30 pm today (Thursday).

For those of you who know Dave Smith, he’s pretty good at keeping people awake (in a good way) with his humor and routine slap on the back. I’ve made long trips by myself, and I’ll tell you, traveling with someone beats flying solo hands down. I can understand all the better why Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. We need someone to lift us up when we’re down, and vice versa. There’s far better accountability and even spiritual growth in the little conversations shared over coffee or…boiled goat.

The last thing Dave and I did before our drive across part of Kenya (I had no idea how expansive Lake Victoria actually is!), we tag-teamed in a discipleship and leadership development workshop for pastors in the region of the Kager Village. Close to fifty pastors attended, and Dave and I had the privilege of sharing some basic teaching on Jesus’ model of disciple-making from Robert Coleman’s Master Plan of Evangelism. We talked about how churches (and pastors) can get so busy running the machinery of ministry that we overlook the most important call we have—to make disciples.

Even though there are many cultural differences between us and our Kenyan brothers and sisters, we also share many similarities. For example, when Dave and I taught on the principle of selection, that is identifying people around us we can pour into and raise up to disciple others, many of the pastors had the universal expression of doubt on their faces. How do we identify people with whom we can build trust and disciple when we’re already extremely busy? Whether someone is a Christian in Indianapolis, the urban slum of the Mathare Valley, or in rural poverty (such as Kager Village), most of us struggle with intentionally building relationships with others who will serve alongside of us for the cause of Christ. The struggle, of course, is…time. The pressures and demands of life consume us to where we have little time left to pour into people.

As part of our workshop, we broke the Kenyans into small groups for further discussion, and for some of them, this was the first experience they’ve ever had in actually sitting in a circle with fellow believers to talk about their faith—and these folks are pastors. And what was one of the inhibitors for these pastors to meet in small groups and pour into the lives of others? You guessed it…time. These pastors, just like American pastors, get so busy doing the tasks of ministry (preaching, teaching, counseling, visiting, etc.), that they don’t make time to build relationships on a deep level.

Dave and I reflected on the experience and renewed our commitment to make relationships with people come before the tasks of ministry. Discipling people and raising up leaders—whether in Kenya or America—requires us to invest in people more than programs. Programs are subservient to people, not the other way around. And, let’s face it, to invest in people takes…time.

Thanks for praying for us as we traveled. We learned much, slept little, consumed interesting foods, and experienced the expansive Kingdom of God that wraps all the way around the world.