My first DNOW with Glowing Heart was one year ago at the Calvary Baptist DNOW in Ruston, Louisiana. I wasn’t a member yet, I was just helping out. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just came along. It was that weekend, with that church, and with the co-leaders I had, that planted a seed in my heart to join Glowing Heart for the coming year. Now that it has been a full year, I’ve been able to go back to that church where it all started for me. As we moved through the weekend activities, I recalled what my life was like one year ago, and noticed what has changed. It’s been a crazy year. I started school at Southwestern Seminary, joined a ministry that demands a lot of time, energy, and spiritual maturity, made new friends, experienced God working in my life and witnessed Him working in others. I’ve been praised, I’ve been humbled. Overall, it was a year of refinement. Painful, yes, but even more so it was necessary. Along with gaining the tools to diligently study and teach the Word of God, I’ve gained the experience of the Gospel, day by day. I’m learning what it means to live like Christ, what it means to strive for the exaltation of His name in all the nations, and how to be an effective member in the body of the universal church.
What I’ve learned most recently though, has been the eye-opening moment of the year: discipleship. Only a week ago, I was having lunch with a mentor of mine. Through him, the Holy Spirit convicted me, encouraged me, taught me, and loved me. I was truly blessed. Then, I was in chapel at school when the preacher spoke exclusively on how discipleship was not only the biblical method of growing the church, it was the only way the church was going to regain its footing. That struck me like a lightning bolt. I was stunned. What had I been doing this whole time? I was thinking in terms of good preaching and powerful worship services. I was picturing the American church being rescued by evangelists and singers. But when you go through the Gospels, Jesus spent more time with his disciples than he did preaching or teaching for large crowds. In fact, Jesus’s great commission was to “make disciples,” not “host worship services in all nations.” Don’t get me wrong, preaching and worship services are great, but it’s not how our church is going to grow. What it takes is discipleship, honest-to-goodness, real life, intentional, biblical discipleship. I’m still learning what that looks like, but that didn’t stop me from taking my first steps this past weekend in Ruston.
The event is called Disciple-NOW. Disciple. Disciple. How did I not catch that before? The whole weekend is designed for discipleship. I had been discipling students at all these DNOWs, but mostly on accident. I wasn’t being intentional. So this weekend, I started earnestly investing in my students. I talked to them about an array of subjects, from Jurassic Park to their future plans. I encouraged them, I gave discipline during my one-on-one times. I missed the mark in a lot of ways, but I was learning. By the end of the weekend, I felt satisfied (Hey, that’s the theme for our DNOW material!) and I made authentic relationships that pointed to Christ. On Sunday, my theory was reaffirmed. The youth pastor thanked Glowing Heart for the ministry we do. What he went on to talk about was not preaching or singing. It was taking the time to invest in his students. He was talking about discipleship. God worked some amazing miracles during the worship service as He brought His people from to death to life, but it wasn’t without the investment of disciple-makers in the church.
I encourage you to be discipled and to disciple others. Find someone you look up to and trust as a spiritual leader and seek guidance. Intentionally find a few people in your church that need investment and discipline in love, and take the time to do that. Growth starts with discipling.