Practice. Practice. Practice. “But I don’t like to practice, I like to play.” When I was a teenager, I played on a basketball team. I hated practices. We would dribble the ball up and down the court and shoot layups for hours. It was tiring and boring. I preferred the games. They were fun! Without practice though, we didn’t win games. Practicing disciple making skills is no different.
For some reason, we think that doing things like evangelism and disciple making shouldn’t need practice. It should flow out of us without any training or effort. This is not actually what either Jesus or Paul said. They used the word practice to describe the learning and applying process.
Evangelism Isn’t Natural For Me
I’ll be vulnerable and confess. Evangelism doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m an introvert, and talking to strangers is not at all “natural.” Sharing with my friends and family can be troublesome too. Yet I want to be obedient to Jesus’ command to make disciples. What do I need to do?
I need to practice. Without practice, I’d never share the gospel story with anyone. I practice sharing out loud at home, I practice it with someone in my neighborhood. Sometimes I fail. My efforts flop. It’s only about the fifth time I share the God story with someone in a taxi or at a park that it flows out naturally. Why is it now natural? Because I have practiced it.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Jesus told us to put it into practice. That means we are allowed to try and fail until we can do things well.
This of course applies to more than evangelism and disciple making. Today, though, that is what we want to think about.
Add a New Language & Culture (More Practice!)
Add in another language, and I need to practice even more. My Nepali language tutor had to hear me tell the creation story over and over until I could say it smoothly. I practiced. My Bengali language helper was the same. Again and again, I’d try to share simple Bible stories. Now I’m learning, and practicing, how to ask simple questions to initiate spiritual conversations in Thai.
Have you been praying for the sick and not seeing anyone healed? Keep practicing. One day you will. Jesus’ disciples didn’t get everything right immediately either. Let’s not expect that we will. Create space to learn and grow.
That is not to say there aren’t times of unique Holy Spirit anointing, where something flows out of my mouth and I look back and am surprised that came out of me. Divine intervention and supernatural things happen. They should be happening in our lives frequently. But that isn’t the daily norm, and that is okay with me. The more I practice, the more I’m able to see fruit from my “game days.”
Don’t be discouraged or dismayed if you need to practice. God rewards our repetitive efforts to obey Him.
It’s Biblical and It’s Part of the Process
What Does It Mean to “Put It Into Practice”?
When I read the words “put it into practice,” I read action. It means we are obeying. But Jesus and Paul didn’t just use the word obey. They used the word practice. That is because they knew it would take repetition before we could be fruitful and effective in applying these things.
Why Practicing Is Important
In training disciple makers and church planters, practicing is a game-changer. In your regular weekly disciple making groups, don’t skip the practicing! Practice retelling the Bible story until everyone is confident to share it. Don’t assume that people can tell it well. One time is often not enough, whether they are oral culture people or not. The more you practice, the more you increase the chance that they will actually retell it to someone that week.
If you find people are not sharing the story or scripture with others. Focus on practicing. Shorten the passage or story so you have time to retell it. Lengthy stories and scriptures don’t work well with DBS or Discovery Groups. Take it in smaller pieces and practice, practice, practice. We must train trainers and make disciple makers, not just teach Bible content.
Do You Take Time to Practice?
If not, now is the time for a change. Practice personally. Practice in your group. Try and try again in a safe environment. Be willing to fail a few times. It’s okay. It is actually normal. Put Jesus’ words into practice in your life. If you keep practicing, you’re going to improve and you’ll start winning at disciple making. To go back to the basketball metaphor, you’ll start scoring points and winning games. But these “games” matter for eternity.
Let me know what you think about this, in the comments below, or post on the DMMs Frontier Missions Facebook page.