Paul got in there with the boys. He worked alongside Priscilla and Aquila. He took Timothy, Silas, Barnabas, Epaphraditus, Onesimus and several others under his care and brought them along in the gospel. They did not train and then go help Paul. They were not ministry proficient and then deemed worthy of ordination prior to striking out with Paul. They were trained as they served alongside Paul in church planting, shepherding, teaching and preaching.
Paul’s disciplemaking method was gospel-centered instruction infused through engaging the student’s senses. This was accomplished by proximity and experience. It is true that Paul was an apostle but that does not negate the fact that he needed help to carry out the work God had given him. The help provided by the men who traveled and worked with Paul was immediate and essential. But the real worth of the co-laboring was the disciplemaking benefit. They witnessed Paul in trying and tragic circumstances. They heard his teaching and saw his practice when no one else could. It is true; growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus is more caught than taught. This kind of ministry is the God-ordained method of producing disciples who worship Jesus Christ. Bible school and seminary can provide valuable direction and vocational resources for those leaning toward vocational ministry but to live alongside people, allowing them access to your inner life, home, work, attitude, marriage condition, parenting and social life helps them see how the gospel works for everyday living.
This kind of ministry can get messy. The mentor can be misunderstood or even judged for being carnal in particular matters. The issue is not whether we fail in our day-to-day lives, we will. The issue is how we deal with failures. If we are to be disciplemakers we must model a pursuit of holiness, an ownership of failure and the humility of repentance. This is the cycle of the discipleship, Paul lived alongside several people. We can do the same. Let’s crawl out of our caves, invite some people into our kitchen, into our lives, with no agenda. No agenda other than gospel-centered living.
What comes out of your mouth when you hit your thumbnail with a hammer? The guys standing beside you know what you say. Next I will discuss the problems with living in close proximity to others and how God uses that tension to make disciples who worship Jesus.