Our house sits on a half-acre lot that contains many beautiful trees. The massive oak looms in our front yard, while the slender pines line our driveway and fence row. Our magnolia tree stands prominently beside a pine, and our citrus trees form a line of deliciousness along the back line of our property. We love the shade and the beauty, but the trees do require work. They regularly dump leaves and bits of limbs into our yard. It’s too much to bag up and throw in the garbage can, so we have to burn it in a little fire pit in our backyard.
If you have a fire pit going, you might as well roast some hot dogs and make s’mores. (Never waste an opportunity to make a s’more.) We also try to use this as an opportunity to invite friends for a time of encouraging fellowship. A time relaxing around the fire, chatting, and checking in spiritually is good for the heart and the soul.
A lot has been written about how much of the thinking today about mission and discipleship is programmatic. Even though discipleship programs were meant to make ministry smoother and easier for congregations, this programmatic mindset has largely had the opposite result. Instead of empowering members towards mission and discipleship, the prevalence of church programs has led many congregants to feel lost in how to be missional, hospitable, etc., in the ordinary rhythms of life.
This observation is certainly not unique to me, and I’m not against church programs. Rather, we should use programs, and we should also strive to equip our congregations to incorporate healthy spiritual practices and discipleship into the activities that you are already doing. In other words, living on mission is not necessarily something that needs to take up another time block in your weekly planner.
There were times when Jesus taught in the synagogue, but much of his teaching and ministry comes in the nooks and crannies of life. He taught around the dinner table, at the village well, walking from city to city, and even as they sailed together. Jesus’s ministry shows us that there is a place for formal ministry and teaching, as well as informal times of instruction, encouragement, and correction.
What are the rhythms or regular activities in your life that you could use for the sake of discipleship or mission or spiritual encouragement?
- Runners, who could you invite on a weekly run for a time of spiritual check-in?
- Parents, are there other families that you could invite to a playground regularly in order to read the Bible or encourage one another while the kids are occupied?
- Could you set an extra plate or two for your Sunday lunch as a way of fostering community in the church?
We all struggle with busyness, and signing up for one more activity or responsibility may feel overwhelming. However, shifting from a programmatic approach to a “nook and crannies” view of disciple-making allows us to layer a Great Commission mindset with the normal, mundane rhythms of life.
Discipleship does not need a sign-up sheet or a slide in the church announcements. It doesn’t have to be in a church building. We just need a couple of people who are intentional about knowing and encouraging one another in Christ, whether it’s on the golf course or in the backyard.
What are ways that you can become a “nooks and crannies” disciple-maker?