504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
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Friday, January 7, 2011

On Lateral Discipleship

This week, I am shepherding our annual "big event" youth ministry class/conference called Youth Ministry Institute in January. Think Youth Camp for Youth Ministers. Our theme is "The Dance of Discipleship" with the idea that dancing (so the Presbyterians tell me) is an intimate moment between two people in which one partner leads and the other follows. I couldn't imagine a better description of discipleship, so we went with it as a theme. We bring in lots of guest presenters and it is always a great way to start the year.

As we have contemplated discipleship, it hit me this morning that discipleship may be more of a line dance than a couples dance. There are lots of people who are instrumental in the choreography we call discipleship. Even with the twelve men who followed Jesus, I imagine that there were some lessons shared between the disciples as well as the lessons learned from following Jesus.

Maybe Peter looked at Matthew and speaking of a person who began to follow Jesus said, "I am glad we reeled in that one." Maybe Matthew, talking about another new follower said, "I am glad that he settled his accounts with God." They had to learn from each other.

I am blessed. This week I learned from my fellow disciples. Dennis Rogers has been my mentor for more than 30 years. Chuck Gartman has been a colleague and friend for more than 25 years. Jim Graham was the co-creator of YMI. We have bounced off ideas for over ten years. Paul Turner has become an accountability partner as we have shared life as parents of our own kids. Kevin Boles is "that student" who has surpassed his professor.

Add the other presenters who have all impacted my life in some way or other--Mark Matlock is so gracious with his time and his amazing intellect; Jake Gulledge has become such a model for authentic worship; Alicia Claxton Kathy Frady and Robby Gallaty make me confident that a new generation of Christ followers are being pointed in the right direction; Barry Sneed is a valuable friend and resource. Through MissionLab New Orleans, Sarah Barnett models what it means to be a servant-missionary.

My assistant, Paige Kirby demonstrates what it means to disciple from the background through her remarkable gifts of administration. Other students volunteered their time.

I don't list all these names just for a "shout out" to the folks who have helped out. I am newly aware of the concept that "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." (Prov 27:17).

I have been sharpened this week. I have learned from Jesus and Paul as I have studied passages which deal with discipleship. I have learned from John Stott as I have read his remarkable book, "Radical Discipleship." I have learned from God through Moses as I have prepared a message entitled, "Brotherly Keeping" for Sunday morning from Genesis 4.

But I have learned from every conversation, every prayer, every resource referral, every shared idea from my "lateral disciples." We need each other in this thing called discipleship. Maybe it is a good idea for you to make a list of all of the people who are speaking truth, instruction, and accountability in your life. Take a minute to thank God for Lateral Discipleship.


  1. Allen,
    This is your "sweet spot" as Lucado would call it. Melvin and I love you and admire you for your decades of tireless efforts in teaching others what this means. We were just telling a young lad going into student ministry about you and what a mistake he made (((: by choosing to go to another institution that is north and east of you!

  2. Miss NOBTS, particularly the youth classes. :) I know this year's YMI was outstanding as usual.