Welcome to the Apprentice Approach Podcast Episode 6, where the ripples far exceed the splash… this is your host Jack McQueeney.
Many Christians struggle with making disciples, they feel busy, overwhelmed, and not qualified. We understand this struggle, which is why we’ve created a Bible-based framework so any believer can master the art of disciplemaking,
In this segment, we will be speaking with Dr. Max Barnett, a professor, disciplemaker, and authority when it comes to campus ministry and reaching 20-somethings. He has spent over 37 years leading campus ministry at Oklahoma University, which was recently recognized by the International Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention for producing more IMB missionaries than any other state school in America. He shares some amazing lessons with us from intentionally focusing on disciplemaking with college students for the last 50 years. Not only does he teach it, but he models it by producing generations of disciplemakers and missionaries.
Jack: Well, we’re back! Jack McQueeney here with Max Barnett and we’re gonna jump right into our questions for Max. Max, let’s start with: Why make disciples? Why should we give ourselves to making disciples?
Max: Well, the last two things we know that Jesus said on earth are recorded in Acts 1:8, “And you’ll receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria, and to the outermost parts of the earth.”
And then in Matthew 28- many people when they talk about the Great Commission start with verse 18- I like to back up to verse 16. There were eleven men there and he told those eleven men, “You are to go into all the world, make disciples of all the nations,” and he said, “You’re to baptize them and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you, lo I am with you always…” Now eleven men were told to go to all the nations – how are eleven men going to go to all the nations? They had to multiply. And it’s interesting to see what was on Jesus’ heart: “to the utmost part of the earth” and “to all the nations.” So, if we’re going to be obedient to Jesus, it is obvious what was on his heart and that’s what we are commissioned to do. The one mandate in that verse is to “make disciples.” The “going,” the “teaching,” the “baptizing,” are verbal phrases- that’s basically the way we do it. But, the mandate is “to go make disciples.” So, that is what Jesus told us to do.
Jack: That’s great Max. I know you’ve written some booklets* and we’re going to refer to these in the show notes, so be sure to take a look at that if you have any questions, but Max, you wrote a little book on how to have a multiplying ministry. So, as you think about that spiritual multiplication and pursuing disciplemaking, how has that changed in your mind from making disciples… then multiplying through disciples? How has that changed over the years for you?
Max: Well, you know, I think still we have more technology and all that today, but if you’re going to make disciples you have to build deeply, I think, into the life of the person. And, always with the idea of passing it on. You know, you see in 1 Thessalonians, where Paul is basically just giving a testimony, and he said, the first thing he mentioned was evangelism and that all has to be part of what we’re doing. You don’t separate evangelism from discipleship. You don’t want to just become a little “holy club” over here- which has been a criticism sometimes of discipleship. But Paul says, “You know what kind of men we prove to be among you for your sake,” and then he says, “Our Gospel didn’t come to you in Word only but also in power in the Holy Spirit with full conviction.” And he said, “You know what kind of men we prove to be among you for your sake.” So he talks about beginning with evangelism and then we set the example. In the next verse, it says, “And you became followers of us and not of the Lord.” And so it’s very simple, I think. When it really gets down to disciplemaking, I’m not saying there’s not hard things and you have to deal with individuals and their situations; but, what you’re trying to do is see people first of all make sure they know the Lord and then you set the example. If you want them to pray, you pray; if you want them to memorize verses, you memorize verses, and that whole thing. And, we see again and again how Paul would say, “First brethren, be followers of me and then I will guide you to Christ.” He said it in 1 Corinthians 4:16, Philippians 4:9, Philippians 3:7… where he talks about “Not only me, but these other men that are with me, men of like heart.” So, what I think we do in disciplemaking is we help people come to know the Lord, we get them doing what we’re doing. Here’s the way I memorize verses, let me share with you how to do that; here’s the way I have a quiet time, and then you see the results.
You know in verse 5 [Acts 1], the Gospel came in power “to them,” then in verse 8 it said “From you sent the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place.” So, the Gospel comes in power to them and later it goes out in power from them: that’s the multiplication of it. And then he said, we were an example and he said now you’ve become an example. So, I think the thing is that we have got to build into people’s lives the principle and the why before the how. If they don’t understand why we’re doing it- you know, you come at people with methods and they might do the methods while they’re with you, but if they do not come to the same convictions as to why we’re doing it, then once they get away, they will quit. See, I want them to know why you have a quiet time and staff fellowship and that you do that for the rest of your life- whether everybody else is doing it or not. And then, whatever we’re doing in Scripture memory, the principle behind it is getting the Word of God in your heart, the method may be writing verses on cards to memorize. But, it’s always the idea of trying to build it deeply into their lives and always with the idea that now you can pass it on: “Now you remember what we did, how I showed you how to memorize verses? Now can you do that with someone?” The basic principle, I think, regardless of the technology, always it’s always been the way Jesus spent time with those men and I think that’s what it takes.
Jack: That’s a great word, that’s a great word. Talk to us about the enemies of discipleship.
Max: Well today- and this is where I think the difference in the culture is- today, men are so busy. I see this with men- if they’ve got three kids, are into this kind of sports and that kind of sports- I think the busyness of the world… now they’ve got time; because, if you look at the time they spend on social media and things like that… but, they’re so busy. And, so many of the husbands and wives working now, and then with their children in all kids of sports, it’s very, very hard to get some people to see, you know, you’re going to have to give some time, if you’re gonna grow. Now, I find men will do that… if you have the relationship with them. You may have to meet them for an early breakfast or whatever; but, the enemy wants his time. I think that’s the biggest thing they face: “I just don’t see that I have time.”
Jack: Speak to, we talked a little bit beforehand, about not understanding or knowing what to do.
Max: Well, and I think that is a problem, because a lot of people think: “Well, I don’t know that many verses; I haven’t been to seminary, or whatever.” I think if they understand just what you do in that time- like I was sharing with a guy here I’d been meeting with, someone for two years and he didn’t clearly have in mind what he’s doing; so, I said to him – and I learned this from John Crawford – “There’s two parts of your time: there’s the relational- you build on the relationship.” Like if you and I are getting together, I wouldn’t walk in and say, “Today we’re gonna cover this.” First, you start with, “Jack is there an… how are things going?” Because, there may be something you need to talk about and so you want to build on that relationship. And then go to, you can, “Here, check me on my verses.” You spend time with your verses, you spend some time praying, and you’re always trying to impart some Biblical content. It’s not just, “We get together and talk,” and so, we’re trying to do that: build something into that person’s life.
Jack: That’s good Max. How did you develop a vision for disciplemaking?
Max: Well, while I was in college, I began to witness and that was a hard step for me. I remember one night when I was praying, I said, “Lord, when I get my veterinary hospital I’ll try to make enough money to personally send a missionary.” And, I thought God would be excited about that and I sensed that he wasn’t. And, then he impressed upon me, “I want you to be a witness here and now,” and that scared me. But, I knew I’d never be what God wanted me to be if I wasn’t obedient. So, I got a New Testament and started down the hall. I saw this guy sitting at his desk; we didn’t have air conditioning in our dorm, and I looked at him for a moment. And, I’d go down the hall and I’d read the bulletin board and pray some more and then I’d go by and get a drink and read the bulletin board and get another drink before I could finally just knock on the door. And I began to tell him, “Hey, I’m an Aggie like you, but I want to share what Christ has done.” And then the fella next door: we were also involved in the same organization on campus – religious organization – and he came in and said, “You know I’ve never led anyone to the Lord.” And I said, “You haven’t?” (like I was an old pro) and I said, “Well, why don’t we? Let’s go every night until somebody accepts the Lord.” So, we began to do that, of course the guy did accept the Lord, and then we began to meet every night at 10:00pm to go witness; and then I began to try to help those guys to grow. I didn’t know a whole lot about how to do that, but you know, like especially on a Friday night or Saturday, I’d get some of them together and we’d read the Bible and somebody had told me: “If you can write verses on cards, you can memorize them.” This guy had gone to Moody Bible Institute and he had learned that there, so that’s what I started doing. And so then, when I heard of Dawson Trotman and his vision, it just cleared it up. It wasn’t something new; it’s just the fog lifted, and I knew that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Jack: That’s great. Tell us how one-to-one relationships have impacted you personally.
Max: Well, you know when Waylon Moore told me about The Navigators, I came up that summer for a summer conference; and, I remember one day Lorne said, “While you’re here, why don’t you ask God to give you a promise for your life?” So, I went out under a pine tree one day and I said, “God, I don’t want to do this just because Lorne said, but if you’ve really got something for me, I want to know it.” So, I thought: “Well, I know where there’s some promises, so I’ll go get one.” And then I thought, “I’m just gonna continue to read.” So, I’d read along and pray awhile and then it was just like the Lord seemed to say to me, “What do you want for your life?” I said, “God I want you to give me men.” (I was at Texas A&M all-men school and so I thought in terms of men.) And then the word came: “Not everybody’s a man,” and these two words filled my mind, “Lord give me men and give me people. That’s what I want for my life.” Well, the very next verse was Isaiah 43:4, “Since you are precious in my sight, you’ve been honored and I’ve loved you; therefore, I give men for you and people for your life.” I knew God had spoken to me. I knew I needed help; I mean, so I would try to get time when I could with Navigators. You know, I’d come up here [Glen Eyrie] for a conference and try to get with men that I could; and, if somebody was walking with the Lord, I wanted to learn from them. But, I never did have anybody to personally disciple me. But, I went after people; and, I would talk with people. Now you know, I wasn’t going with The Navigators, so there were especially some of the young guys weren’t real about me cause they weren’t sure I’d join the organization. But, Lorne Sanny and LeRoy Eims and guys like that were very free to share with me; and I loved that. Man, I’d drive 600 miles to hear one of them speak! And so, I just tried to pick it up. But, personal relationships is where it starts; and, I think that’s what’s so important. And, that’s what Jesus did with the twelve: he had twelve, but he got a lot of time with the individuals.
Jack: Amen. How does someone get started in discipling?
Max: Well, I think first of all, we want them to see it and be able to say this is not something The Navigators came up with. This is Biblical. This is what Jesus told us to do. So, I think the thing of it is, and what I try to do with guys, is first of all show it to them Biblically. “Guys, look here what Matthew 28 says. And so, I want you to see now you can do this and I’m gonna help you with it. We’re gonna memorize this verse, and now I want you to try to find someone else you can do this with.” So, we’re always trying to help them and give them a little bit of guidance, so that they don’t feel lost.
I know a fella that developed a discipleship program, Billy Hanks, “Operation Multiplication.” And, he told me one time that he found people kind of floundering and he gave them a half-sheet, just saying, “Okay, in our meeting, here’s what you can do: you can spend some time talking and you can spend fifteen minutes praying and you can do this.” He said it really helped because a lot of people just need a track to run on. They needed a little bit of guidance, and that’s what 2:7 and things like that is helpful with people to learn what to do.
Jack: Yeah. Well, that’s tremendous. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule in this 50th year to bring up this group to The Glen. We not only appreciate you being here, but thank you for sharing the experiences God’s given you throughout the years with us and with our audience today. So, thank you again and Max. Lord bless you for the next fifty years!
Max: Thank you.
Jack: We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and feel encouraged and equipped. For more resources, our blog, and to sign up for weekly emails, visit our website theapprenticeapproach.org, and if you haven’t subscribed to The Apprentice Approach Podcast on iTunes, do it today!
Until next time, this is your host Jack McQueeney, believing God for generations of men and women like you!
*Booklets by Max Barnett: A Vision for Developing Disciplemakers, The Truth About Calvinism, How to Have a Multiplying Ministry, The Value of Memorizing Scripture, Fellowship with God
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