Why Some Disciple-makers Reproduce When Others Fail (Part 3)

Part 3 of Spiritual Multiplication in the Real World: Why Some Disciple-makers Reproduce When Others Fail gets into the nitty gritty of disciple-making. McNabb also begins to reveal many of the things he learned while leading a disciple-making team in Thailand. He starts off telling a great story about going fishing with a neighbor in Bangkok. He had done a lot of fishing growing up in Alabama, but he was soon to learn that fishing in Thailand was an entirely different experience requiring an entirely different approach. From that illustration he goes on to look at fishing for men from a Biblical perspective. I’ve heard or read many evangelistic sermons / lessons from John 4, but McNabbs treatment of the story of the woman at the well seemed fresh and useful. The crux of his analysis is that before Jesus shared the gospel, he created interest:

  • JESUS SPARKED HER CURIOSITY BY ACTING DIFFERENTLY (JOHN 4:7-9)
  • JESUS BAITED HER WITH THE PROSPECT OF “LIVING WATER” (VV.10-12)
  • JESUS SET THE HOOK BY TELLING OF THE AMAZING QUALITIES OF THE “LIVING WATER” (VV.13-15)
  • JESUS SHOWED HER THAT HER SIN WAS AN OBSTACLE TO GAINING THE “LIVING WATER” (VV.16-20)
  • JESUS DEALT WITH HER QUESTIONS (VV.21-25)
  • JESUS REVEALED THAT HE WAS THE SAVIOR (V.26)

He uses the acronym F.I.S.H: Find, Interest, Share, and Help as an outline to the process. Under the Interest heading he has 7 points which I won’t list. But under one of them he gave this excellent of illustration of how to create interest by telling this story from his time in Bangkok”

“Teaw, like most Thais, grew up in a Buddhist family. She came to Christ as a bubbly young freshman at a local college. She had an older brother named Biak. One evening she brought him to a party we were holding. Biak seemed a little uncomfortable being around a bunch of college students because he was a little older. I saw this and immediately went over and struck up a conversation with him. We had gained some clarity by this time about the importance of finding out about people before you start trying to create interest. I began asking him several questions about himself. After getting through a few basic questions about where he had studied and where he worked, I asked him if he had a girlfriend. Immediately, I knew I had struck a nerve. Biak said he had been engaged, but his fiancé had just called it off. I said,“Wow, I’m sorry about that. I’m sure it is frustrating to think you have found the right one and then, bam, it falls apart.” He said, “Yeah, it is.” I said, “Well, it’s better to find out now instead of a couple of years into the marriage.” He nodded his head in agreement. Then I said, “You know, from the number of divorces that occur and the number of couples that aren’t happy after they marry, it looks like very few people marry the right person.”24 Again he nodded in agreement. I went on to say, “And the thing is, nobody stands at the altar and looks at the person he or she is marrying and thinks ‘You are the wrong person.’ Everyone thinks they have picked well and that they will beat the odds.” Biak chimed in enthusiastically, “That’s exactly right!” I said, “The only way you could be sure you are marrying the right person is to know the future or ask someone who does.” Biak replied “Yeah, and nobody knows the future, right?” I answered, “Well, God knows the future and if you know him, he can help you make the right choices.” Biak leaned in, stared right at me, and asked passionately, “How can I know God?” He was saying, “Sir, give me some of this living water.”

He has a section under Interest titled LET THEM SEE CHRISTIANS INTERACTING WITH EACH OTHER IN LOVE. This two page section was worth the price of the book all by itself, but I’d have to quote just about the whole section to communicate it accurately here. Buy the book.

There is so much in this book that I have highlighted, and I’ve only shared a fraction of it here in these three installments. I believe this book is going to quickly become a standard text for disciple-making in evangelistic courses.

“If you asked me six weeks ago how my personal evangelism was going, I would have had to answer, “Not so hot.” But if you asked me today about how it is going, I would excitedly tell you about all that has been happening over the past six weeks. What changed?”

Toward the end of the book he adds this personal note. This relates back to Part 1 where he emphasizes the need to be a part of a disciple-making team, but I want to include it here because this little story is powerful, especially given the fact it is coming from someone I would call a disciple-making expert.

“If you asked me six weeks ago how my personal evangelism was going, I would have had to answer, “Not so hot.” But if you asked me today about how it is going, I would excitedly tell you about all that has been happening over the past six weeks. What changed? I don’t know anything more about evangelism now than I did then, so that can’t be it. I didn’t have a fresh mountaintop experience with the Spirit, so that can’t be it either. What did happen is that a new missional community started meeting in my living room. You see, it had been a while since I was a part of a disciple-making team, and it had taken its toll on my personal evangelism, but now that is corrected. Though I have led missional communities for years, have been a missionary, and can write about all that I have learned, my flesh is still weak. I don’t do well living on mission without being a part of a like-minded community. I suspect you don’t either.