Alongsiders Hang New Pictures

by Bill Mowry

In his presentation on disciple-making, Pastor Paul was challenged by a friend in the audience. “I could never make disciples,” the friend said. “I’m not a good public teacher like you.”

Paul turned the question back to the audience, “How many of you are good at public speaking?”

About four people raised their hands. Then he asked,“How many of you could befriend someone and then come alongside and read the Bible with them?”

Nearly all the hands went up. What made the difference? The second question painted a picture of disciple-making that many in the audience felt they could do. The picture in the mind’s eye made the difference. Author Warren Wiersbe writes, “No Christian rises higher than the beauty and quality of the pictures than hang in the gallery of his or her mind.” What picture of disciple-making hangs in the gallery of your mind?

Here are some pictures that we need to remove from our mind’s gallery. One picture is the classroom, with a gifted teacher leading the charge. This picture leads us to shout out like the man in Paul’s audience, “I could never make disciples because I’m not a teacher.” Over-complication is another picture. One disciple-making book lists 30+ topics to cover in discipling others. We look at ourselves and say, “I’m not living out half of this curriculum! How can I make a disciple?”

Suppose we hung a new picture in the gallery of our minds? What would happen if we called disciplemakers “alongsiders?” This wonderful New Testament word is paraklesis, a calling to one’s side. Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit is the ultimate alongsider, the “counselor,” or “helper,” who is with us forever (John 14:16). We partner with the Spirit when we come alongside people to counsel, encourage, or exhort (1 Thessalonians 2:11,12).

Alongsiders are people who live life-to-life with others, joining them in their life stories, helping them become wholehearted followers of Jesus. Instead of being the teacher, placed above people, we’re companions on the way. Alongsiders intentionally do some simple things. They build authentic friendships, read the Bible with others, tell stories and ask questions. Alongsiders encourage application and accountability. Finally, alongsiders invite people to live on mission with them, advancing the gospel and recruiting others to follow Jesus as His disciples. Is this a picture you would like to hang in your mind’s gallery?

Reflect on the relationships you have where you live, work, play, or worship. I am hoping you were able to connect with 1-2 others at the end of the conference to discuss your next step.

  • Whom have you decided to come alongside of to do some simple things?
  • Can you build an authentic friendship?
  • Who is someone you can read the Bible with, tell some stories, or ask some questions?

When you do these things, you’ve hung the picture of an alongsider in the gallery of your mind.

Are you ready to take down some old ministry pictures and replace them a new one? Hanging a picture of an alongsider jump-starts a life-changing adventure with God and others.

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