We just finished our fourth National Disciple Making Forum in Nashville! We are grateful for our disciple-making partners and thankful to God for giving us the opportunity to influence so many pastors, ministers, and leaders.
Attendance at the forum has grown each year, with 1,725 leaders registering this year alone!
I wanted to share with you my top three personal reflections on the Forum.
1. The Theme “King Jesus” resonated strongly.
We joked that the theme this year was the same as Kanye West’s new album “Jesus is King,” but we chose it first! Maybe there is something going on with that title in our culture.
We have so many ways, biblically, to address Jesus—Savior, Lord, friend, and more—but we are living in a time where his kingship is important to more and more people. Maybe it is because people like N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight, and Matthew Bates (among others) have helped us to see that the “kingdom” was Jesus’ favorite topic.
Maybe it is because in our current political climate in America that we long for stability and direction. Or maybe we just know that the kingdom in which we live only makes sense if we have a true and righteous King to follow.
I think David Young of North Boulevard Church, who wrote the theme book for this year, said it best: “The only appropriate response to our King is surrender.”
Speaking of surrendering to Jesus as King: About half the people in attendance at the last main-stage session came forward to the altar to surrender to him in a fresh way.
2. Collaboration in Disciple Making is attractive.
Jesus-style disciple making creates unity. We have leadership at the forum provided by Baptists, Anglicans, Wesleyans, Churches of Christ, and others, as a reflection of the spectrum of the evangelical world.
We can all work together in the forum because everyone is aligned around Discipleship.org's 10 disciple making affirmations and we all agree to keep other issues on the side. This year the number of disciple-making organizations and networks increased to twenty-seven. We call these leaders and their organizations “partners” because we really believe that we are all in this mission together. Each of these organizations had to put up their own financial and human resources to join us. They told us that they are happy to contribute to this mission. We all believe that it is vitally important.
3. Many Partners = Fresh Perspectives
We had some new partners this year with fresh insights and perspectives. One example is Neil Anderson with Freedom in Christ Ministries. He and his team showed everyone how our identity in Christ and the Steps to Freedom from demonic forces can be a key part of disciple making.
Another example was Pete Scazzero and Drew Hyun, with Emotionally Healthy Discipleship, who introduced people to the key linkage between emotional growth and spiritual growth.
The expanding number of partners makes something clear that ninety-one-year-old Robert Coleman, author of The Master Plan of Evangelism (which is the gold standard on Jesus’ style disciple making), told me: “I keep learning more everyday about how Jesus made disciples.” Wow! After all those years, he’s still learning. After over sixty years of disciple making, it shows me that there are no true “experts in disciple making.” We are all learners. I witnessed that our forum gives Jesus-hungry disciple makers fresh perspectives. I am grateful that they got new wind for their sails.
I hope these reflections encourage you.
We also announced the new 2020 Disciple Making Forum Phoenix that we have scheduled for next Spring. If you missed the Nashville Forum—or if you want to attend again—we will repeat the same “King Jesus” theme April 29–May 1st, 2020 in Phoenix. Since this is a new forum, city and venue, we are only starting with ten partners, but the main stage presentation will be very similar. Find out more here.
I want to end this post with some comments that were shared with me after the forum. I am sharing them because they capture the heart of what we tried to accomplish, and I hope they represent our impact into the future:
Thank you for the direct and respectful way you encouraged the church. She is so beautiful, going where no-one else goes, saying what no-one else says, loving who no-one else loves representing King Jesus. While she is not living into her fullness, you made sure that your instruction and leadership was about what you are for, "Disciple Making,” and for this we are both grateful.
For King Jesus,
Bobby Harrington, Point Leader, Discipleship.org