Wednesday, October 22

Why we don't make disciples

A story shared by Alan Knox on his excellent blog The Assembling of the Church describes why it is so hard for us to make disciples...

...A few weeks ago, my friend Joe invited me for a cup of coffee. We decided to meet at a local Starbucks on Tuesday at 5:00, just after work. We happened to arrive at the same time, and coincidentally, we both ordered the same thing: a tall cafe mocha decaf. Joe surprised me by buying my coffee. We found an empty table in a quiet corner and spent the next hour or so talking about God and life. We each discussed what God was teaching us and how we were trying to obey him in our day-to-day lives. We talked about loving other people and caring for the least. As Joe told his stories, I was encouraged and challenged all at the same time. When Joe announced that he had to leave, I was disappointed but also understood the demands of life and family.

I enjoyed my time with Joe, and I was looking forward to spending more time with him. From what I could tell, we had experienced real fellowship, the beginning of community, the sharing of the Spirit. Also, since I am learning what it means to grow in maturity and disciple others, I thought it would be a good idea to share this experience with others.

The next week, I invited another friend to have a cup of coffee with me. Unfortunately, Tom was busy on Tuesday evening, so we had to meet on Wednesday. He works later than I do, so we met at 5:30, and since Tom doesn't like Starbucks, we went to a local coffee shop. I was a little concerned about the change in plans, but I thought maybe it would work anyway. When I got to the coffee shop, I had to wait about 10 minutes for Tom to show up; apparently he was delayed at work. I ordered my tall cafe mocha decaf, and waited a moment for Tom to order. Instead, Tom waited until after I paid for my coffee. I was surprised that Tom didn't buy my coffee, and I was getting a little anxious. Next, Tom ordered a black coffee - no mocha, no decaf. Even though there was an empty table in the corner, Tom picked a table in the center of the room.

As we sat and talked, I kept going over things in my mind: Wednesday instead of Tuesday; 5:30 instead of 5:00; local coffee shop instead of Starbucks; Tom was late, and he didn't pay for my coffee; Tom didn't order the same thing that I ordered; our table was right in the middle of the shop, while there was a perfectly good empty table in the corner. Things were not going well for our coffee meeting. In fact, I didn't see how anything good could come out of this. Everything was going wrong, and nothing was going right!

Finally, after enduring several minutes of this train wreck, I interrupted Tom as he was babbling on about how his job was not going very well, and how he was afraid that he was going to be downsized, and how he and his wife were having trouble. I told him that I needed to go and that I was sorry that our meeting wasn't very productive.

Then, Tom said something surprising, "I noticed that you seemed distracted. Is there something wrong?"

Can you believe that Tom asked me if there was something wrong!?!? I mean, everything was wrong! The day was wrong! The time was wrong! The location was wrong! The coffee was wrong! The table was wrong! I can't believe he had the nerve to ask me if there was something wrong. I don't even know if this could be called a proper meeting for coffee!

But, instead of pointing out his obvious flaws, I just shook my head and made a hasty exit. I decided then and there to never have coffee with Tom again. He just doesn't know how to meet for coffee.


peggy b said...

Guy, that was great! It took me a while to figure out the point to your story. But I get it now! How many of us are bothered by the inconveniences created by those we supposedly 'disciple', and lose the opportunity! Wow, what a story.
I've been thinking of that lately myself. I met this woman at work 1 1/2 years ago, and we met at lunch for Bible studies, fellowship, etc.... when she would come. A couple months later we discussed baptism, then baptized her in my friend's pool. She was off and on in studying, missing some appointments, but seemed to have a real heart to learn about the Lord.
She's working on a master's degree in counseling, so I hadn't heard from her in about 2 months. Just this week she emailed me saying she's finishing her paper, as of Nov 1 she'll not be so busy, and she wants to meet for Bible study worship & prayer (i.e. house church). And, she has 1-2 other people who want to meet with us! Wow! What a missed opportunity I would have had if I had passed her up!
Thanks for sharing your story!

peggy b said...

Hope you don't mind... I'm going to share this with LK10. It's worth sharing!

GuyMuse said...


Glad you enjoyed Alan's story. I thought it was good too. That sounds wonderful about the new disciple you are working with. I think the point of the story is that discipleship making doesn't always go the way we would like it, but like you share, if we will just stick to it and be flexible, the fruit will come in good time.

GuyMuse said...


No problem sharing on LK.10, just be sure to credit Alan Knox.