SOMETHING WAS WRONG. I took my first church staff position when I was 18 years old and a freshman in college at Union University in Jackson, TN. Fast forward to 2013 and after 30 years in ministry I felt clearly during my quiet times that the Lord was telling me something was wrong. I had served through the years while wearing a variety of hats in youth, music and education ministries and as a NAMB church planter. My mission up to that time was simple: Love God, Love People, Make Disciples. But that mission began to change that year.
FOLLOW ME. I have always enjoyed hiking and being outdoors in God’s creation. At the end of each year I try and go for a hike to get away and spend time with God while evaluating with him the past year and looking toward the next. That year when I asked God how I was doing in making disciples, it was as if he hugged me and said, you are working so hard but you can do better. Just “FOLLOW ME!” I saw in Mark 1:16 – 20; 2:13-14 that over and over again Jesus said “follow me” and that a disciple of Jesus is simply one who obediently follows Jesus. The answer to what I could do better did not come immediately but has been a process of continued growth since that moment. But he definitely had my attention. It was like an itch I couldn’t quite scratch completely.
I’M IN. In December of 2014, Darryl Wilson of the Kentucky Baptist Convention invited me to come hear a man by the name of Billie Hanks, longtime in ministry with the Billy Graham Association. So, I drove to Louisville and took part with several others. One of the guys asked Billie, “Billie, you have served all over the world teaching, preaching, doing crusades….if you could have done only one thing all of these years in ministry what would it have been? He confidently said, the time I have invested in 33 men one on one to the point that they went out and did the same.” My itch was scratched. I left there, looked at Darryl as I was leaving and said, “I’m in.”
WHERE TO START. On my drive home back to Richmond the Lord clearly spoke to me and said “This is what I have been wanting you to do.” I knew the last thing our historic church needed was another program. So, the Lord led me to ask my son Wesley who was a senior at the time if he wanted to hang out with his old man once a week and help me think through and practice what DiscipleMaking needed to look like. It was the best Father / Son time we have ever had. It wasn’t about a book study – it was about doing life together in such a way that it was reproducible and he could go out and do the same.
In Part 2, Sam will share about Multiplication Began and Ministry Adjusted.
Sam Newman serves as Minister of Education & Discipleship at First Baptist Church, Richmond, Kentucky.