“Disciple.” We know that word and what a disciple is, but understanding how to disciple others—how to live the life of a disciple-maker—can be confusing. It is a great challenge to lead and disciple someone, especially if we question whether we have been discipled ourselves.
Brandon Guindon, author of Disciple-Making Culture, shares of the joy that comes when disciples make more disciples and when the culture of disciple-making grows and grows, just as Jesus intended it to. Brandon encourages us all to take heart because Jesus showed us the way, and Jesus invites us along in the mission of making disciples.
No matter who you are or your experience with making disciples, you can be a part of disciple-making culture. You can become a disciple who makes disciples who then goes out to make more disciples.
In this episode, which is the last in this five-part series, you’ll find:
- Stories of perseverance and transformation
- Glimpses into the fruit of disciple-making culture
- Testaments to the joy and celebration of seeing disciples grow
- Reasons to keep fighting for disciple-making culture in our homes
- Solace in the fact that a lot of people don’t quite know how to disciple (yet)
- A call to join with God in creating a disciple-making culture wherever you are
An interview with Brandon Guindon
Chad Harrington: Today is the final episode of this mini-series on disciple-making culture. Look, making disciples—that is making singular individual disciples one-on-one—is one thing, but what about creating a culture of disciple-makers throughout your whole church? That’s an entirely different task, but that’s exactly what Brandon Guindon is talking about in this mini-series. In the first four episodes of the series, we talked about various topics, the nature of this type of culture, stories of disciple-making culture, issues particular to church staff, and the greatest barriers.
Today’s episode, look, we need to celebrate. We need to be motivated. Today’s episode is about the joyful rewards of building a culture of disciple-makers like we’re talking about. In this episode, Brandon takes a look at the fruit God has produced in his ministry experiences to celebrate the good things God has done through the teams he’s been a part of, including his family.
Don’t forget to check out his book about the topic at himpublications.com, or if you’d just like to see the intro to the book, you can download a free visual introduction. And now for today’s featured content, the last episode of this mini-series, it’s called “The Joyful Rewards of Building Disciple-Making Culture,” featuring Brandon Guindon.
Brandon Guindon: My name is Brandon Guindon. I’m the lead pastor, senior pastor, at Real Life Ministries, Texas, in Tomball, Texas.
The Fruit of Our Efforts
Chad: And this is a special podcast series that we’re doing about disciple-making culture, and Brandon, you’ve written a book by that name, Disciple-Making Culture, and it’s about creating and cultivating thriving disciple-makers throughout your church, which I think is a really important message for the church today because in a church culture where it’s either education-driven—and education is good—or if it’s more programmatic or whatever, there’s all these different ways of doing church. But what you’re saying and your message about disciple-making culture is, Let’s take a step back. Let’s look beyond strategy, tactics, and programs, which all have their place, but they all come out of something deeper, which is culture.
And so in this episode, we’re just going to focus on the joyful rewards of building this culture in our churches, because like we’ve talked about it is hard work. So Brandon, if you could just sort of dive into this, I want you to talk about the fruit of our efforts when we do this as leaders. And if you would focus on joy because this stuff is hard, right? But the level of joy and satisfaction in the fruit is really what we put into it. You reap what you sow. And so would you tell me about this in different seasons of your life in ministry?
Brandon: Yeah. This is the fun stuff. This is the celebration and the high fives.
Such a big part of leading in the church—creating disciple-making culture, fighting for it, and holding onto it—is seeing lives changed.
I make the joke that a lot of times when we’re trying to lead people through this, it’s like trying to load monkeys onto a flatbed. There’s this monkey swinging everywhere and trying to drive the truck and swinging from the tailpipe. And it just becomes a, sometimes this big convoluted mess, and that’s part of it that we have to fight and it can be difficult. What you’re asking here is really, this is the fun part and the celebrations.
And I’ve been blessed to have so many people that God has put in my path that I’ve had the opportunity to walk alongside of as they grew, whether it be from not knowing Jesus at all, to coming to Christ and being raised up and walking away from, maybe even addictions or struggles or things in their lives. And seeing the Lord heal marriages and just incredible fruit, even to the point to where they are now serving in the church, making disciples themselves, and even further, people going on and being in ministry.
Gene: A Story of Perseverance
I think a way back from years ago when I was at Real Life in Post Falls with Jim Putman, there’s a guy that I’m still really good friends with today. His name is Gene Jacobs. Gene is now the senior pastor at Real Life Ministries, Silver Valley. Gene and Christy Jacobs have just done a tremendous job out there and making disciples in a healthy church, and I’ve just been proud of them for years.
But I remember when Gene first came into the church and, and some of the struggles that he and Christy were having and being able to walk alongside them, and him really committing his life to the Lord and the struggles that they had and eventually getting into a small group. And I remember, Gene and I having really hard conversations early on, and there were tears and then struggles and they continue to press on, and they had others that were in their life as well, speaking into their life and speaking truth.
And I remember though, Gene, what I would always appreciate about him is that he didn’t quit, regardless of how hard things got. And even what I would say hard things to him or challenge him in the Word of God. He just kept at it. I remember times when his wife would be frustrated with him or he was frustrated with her, and they just didn’t quit and kept at it. And I remember the first time I asked Gene to lead a small group and, and they were growing and getting spiritually healthy and he didn’t believe that he could do it. And he felt inadequate.
God does what God does.
And he used me and others in their lives and encouraged him and walked with them. And they were incredible disciple-makers. And in fact, Gene was doing such a great job.
He was the first person I remember ever talking to about being somebody in our church in Post Falls, about coaching small group leaders, coaching other people to do it. And Gene just, almost laughing at me. And I remember those conversations, and, to the point to where one day Gene and I were walking at a men’s retreat and I could just hear the call on his life to ministry and that God wanted to use him and that he needed to follow the Lord in this calling. And we brought him on staff and he was a small groups pastor. And once again, God used him in a powerful way. And I got to coach him and walk with him and be on staff with him and did a great job. And, and eventually the Lord called him to plant a new church. And that’s where he has been sent.
It’s All Worth It
And this incredible fruit along the way of seeing lives transformed, seeing the people that Gene impacted to see the people that he was able to lead to Christ, he and his wife, and just what a testimony of their marriage, of the process that Jesus modeled and gave to us and seeing disciples made and churches born from it was just, it was incredible. It’s always been an inspiration to me, and there are other stories that are like that, that I’ve seen back from my time in Post Falls. And I continue to see some of those today, lives changed. Very, very similar to what I shared, some of the stories, on earlier podcasts, but that’s the high five that is the fruit that we get to see and get to be a part of. All of the difficulties that we face and the amount of work and discipline that it takes to build and uphold this culture, when the Gene Jacobs of the world occur, it’s all worth it. It is. It’s just the joy that I have at looking back and going, man, it’s been worth it.
All of the difficulties that we’ve faced and the amount of work and discipline it takes to build and uphold disciple-making culture—it’s all been worth it.
Chad: That’s awesome. Yeah. It, you really only start to understand this thing when you become a parent, either spiritual or, or biological. My wife and I have an eighteen-month old and we have one on the way. So even at eighteen months old, my daughter brings me such great joy. And I was taking a walk with my wife the other day and our daughter Emma was with us. And I remember just watching her like run through the grass, right. It’s like really simple.
And then it clicked for me why parents spend so much time watching their kids play sports. I used to be like, That is so boring to watch these little kids running around chasing the soccer ball. It’s like how, but dude, there was no soccer ball. There was no team. She was just running in the grass. And I was so just happy to watch her live, and I think what you’re saying is the same is true with spiritual parenting that we get to delight in the fruitfulness of our spiritual children.
And maybe they’re older than us. And I think that that’s beautiful because that shows humility on his part to be discipled by you. And it shows humility on your part that you didn’t consider yourself inadequate. You knew exactly who you were in Christ, that you are a disciple-maker and that you guys are on the same team. You’re equals in Christ, and God has placed you over people with his authority, not yours. And so I just love that, man. I can totally relate. I want to hear some more stories, maybe some more recent ones about maybe it’s your church staff or other people in your church who just brought you great joy and in watching them develop into thriving disciple-makers.
Brandon: A Story of Transformation
Brandon: That’s a great question and a hard question, because I literally could go through the story of each person that’s on my staff right now and share incredible stories. One that stands out is one of the guys on our staff, his name is Brandon Collins, and he is a, we have two small groups, pastors, Alex Jones and Brandon Collins right now.
Brandon, when he and his wife, Bonnie came to church, it’s a funny story. He would hear the stuff that I was talking about preaching about on Sunday. And it was something that he always longed for in the church. I mean, he grew up in the church and always longed to be part of something bigger in this culture that’s talked about. He was feeling it, experiencing it, hearing people talk about doing life together. And he’d been a police officer and had just recently retired. And so he had known orders like to be in a brotherhood and comradery and, and those kinds of things. But he had never seen that in the church and that the family feeling.
And so when he came in and he was starting to experience that and he was skeptical, he was like, What is this guy? So I’m cult leader. What’s the deal? And he did a bunch of even background, like research on, on me and all this. And it was pretty funny. Now he and I joke about it.
Yeah. And he, and really he’ll tell you that he was like, “I just couldn’t believe that this was true, that this really could happen.” And so he and Bonnie started going to their first small group and he started to build relationships. Both of them were building relationships and actually their small group leader, started to really invest in them and disciple them. And they were growing like crazy. He and I started to build a pretty good relationship and he would come in and have all these questions. And then he was really close and being discipled by my executive pastor, Tommy Robertson and Tommy was really investing in them. And they were, he’s doing a great job discipling Brandon and all these questions and, and just watching him grow and how fast he was growing.
And six months, eight months later, we’re noticing and seeing this, just this real call to ministry that he had and his passion to see other people experience what he experienced, his passion to see people grow as disciples and then be able to make disciples. And Brandon and Bonnie, we launched them out, and they started their first small group, and instantly, I mean, the thing grew. He began pouring into a couple of guys, and they were growing and we’re seeing this tremendous fruit. And the whole time I’m kinda standing back from this and watching, because I wasn’t the primary person along the way that invested in Brandon.
Be Loyal to Jesus and His Method
And I did some, but it was Tommy and some other guys that really poured into them. And so for me to get to see my time with Tommy and, and some of the other guys that I had spent now being transferred into Brandon and taught in him and Brandon now discipling others. And to just see this hunger and fire, not for Real Life Ministries, Texas, not for our church, so to speak, but for Jesus and for Jesus’ method and Jesus’ church. And that’s what I loved about those guys.
And they weren’t being loyal to our logo. They weren’t being loyal to Real Life, Texas, so to speak.
These guys were learning a loyalty and obedience to Jesus and to his method. And no matter where they go, they were going to live that out.
And we had the opportunity a few months ago to hire him, to bring him on, as our groups have been growing and we needed another small groups pastor, and he’s just done fantastic. I spent much of my life back in Post Falls, over small groups. That’s where I started. I was a small groups pastor. And so my passion is for, for those guys, my heart goes out to him and he’s doing a tremendous job in some ways he’s better than I ever was at it. And to see that lived out is just, as you said, it’s the joy that comes from it. It’s the fruit of the process. And I’m just incredibly thankful to the Lord that I get to see it.
Chad: Right. And we’re talking about spiritual parenting again, but I do actually want to ask about your kids and your home disciple-making culture, like where the joy of even watching your kids grow up in a church who lives like this. What’s that like Brandon?
Fight for This Culture in Our Homes
Brandon: Well, I think, I mean, many of us, those of you that are listening, if you have children, we’re biased towards our kids and that’s good and that’s a healthy, good thing. I’m obviously biased. I have four kids, two girls, two boys, and I’ve been able to live this culture out in our home and not like even in the church, not perfectly, it’s not that we do everything exactly right. All the time.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but we fight for disciple-making culture in our home, a home of being able to be transparent and be honest with each other to say you’re sorry, to fight through conflict when we disagree.
We’ve tried to live that out and promote it within our home, Amber and I, to be disciple-makers to our kids and challenge them as they grew up to disciple others, to live that out with their friends.
And so we have, we’ve had the opportunity to see three of our four kids lead somebody else to Christ, lead their friends to Christ. My two daughters are very involved with fast pitch softball. I’ve got to see them lead teammates to Christ, invite kids to the youth group, invite kids into small groups. My son Grady is very passionate about all this. He believes he’s called to ministry and this is what he wants to do.
And, and so it’s been fun to see it transition and have fruit, not only in the church, but fruit in our home and that our kids, they don’t know anything different, that doing life and living in a disciple-making culture and that I, as their dad, expect them, have an expectation for them that not only are they a disciple, but they learn and know how to disciple others. And we talk about that. We celebrate that in our home and they have a lot of questions around it.
“Dad, what would you do with this?” “How would you what would you say to this person?” “Dad, my friend had this question, how would you answer it?”
And being able to teach them and hand those principles off to them as they disciple and invest in their friends.
Chad: Right? And the assumption in your house is like, this is what we’re going to do, because it’s who we are, which changes the conversation. It’s kinda like if you don’t get on board with this, you’re just left in the dust. Cause this is what we’re doing. But it’s not a forceful thing, right? That’s another part of the love aspect of this culture, right?
Brandon: That’s the part where I was saying is if it’s who you are and you’re living it out and it becomes who you are, it’s become the culture and you just don’t know any different. That’s the part where I would, again, I would encourage everybody that’s listening if that’s not totally been your home to this point, that doesn’t mean you’re defeated, that there’s changes and things that you can do to bring into it. It’s like, my wife and I, I mean, we haven’t always done it perfectly. We’ve gotten really busy and disconnected with the kids and not follow it up with them like we should. And then we have to get back and get focused and fight for it again. But it does, it becomes who you are. And I mean, it’s, it’s who we are as a family.
I’ve Never Been Discipled. I Don’t Know How to Make a Disciple.
Chad: Brandon, I want to talk about the book a little bit. I know we’re at the end of this series, the special series on disciple-making culture. I wanted to just hear your heart about the book a little bit. And if you could even give people a reason to read it because they’ve been hearing a lot about these stories and it’s like, Okay. And the one thing that I think is such a great gift to leaders right now is the tools and the practical steps that you list out. You mentioned a lot of other things as well, stories and such, but I think that just hearing these audio podcasts would be inadequate because it’s motivation really, it’s vision casting. But when we get down into it, I wanted to just hear what does this resource, it’s a book called Disciple-Making Culture, it’s a discipleship.org resource and a Him Publications book, what is this going to offer for people? I know it’s putting you on the spot, but you’ve just invested a lot of time into this because you’re so passionate about it. So I wanted to hear you talk about it a little bit.
Brandon: Sure. Well, it’s twenty years of ministry. I can’t believe it’s been this long of all these years of doing this and trying to live this out as best that I know how, that the men and women that I’ve got the opportunity to do this with. In the last few years, we’ve really seen the word, the concept of discipleship become almost a buzz word in the church. A lot of people are talking about it. A lot of people are writing books about it. And I love to talk and interact with leaders in the church, paid staff, volunteers and to hear their hearts and I’ve talked with probably thousands now over the twenty years, at all kinds of conferences and whatnot, and the consistent conversation would always come back to this principle. I’ve never been discipled. I don’t know how to make a disciple.
And I’ve heard that from the senior pastors, elders, to everybody in the church. That’s bothered me.
How is it that the leaders in Jesus’ church have never experienced being a disciple-maker, or really ever felt like they were discipled? How have we missed the Great Commission that King Jesus called us to?
But that’s not everybody. There are people on this podcast, I’m sure, the audience, that have been discipled, had great mentors and great examples, but such a vast number of people have not. And that has had a big impact on me. Like how in the world did that happen? What do we need to do to help change that? So there was that piece, but then the other part that I’ve dealt with is people saying, “How do you do that in your church? What does that look like, Brandon? Like I said, I haven’t been to some, I don’t know what it looks like.”
And so my heart behind this book was to really try to paint the picture. This is what a disciple-making culture looks like, and also to try to encourage and to motivate to people to go, Well, I can actually do this. This is not rocket science. I can. It’s going to be hard work. It’s going to take some commitment, dedication, but I can do it. And so that was the heart behind it, was knowing that a lot of people in the church do not know what it looks like. They may know how to go buy a curriculum. They may know how to maybe have a program, but to really have it be something, be who they are.
That was the heart behind this book, was to be able to put a resource in the hands of, my hope would be that every Christian would read it from the standpoint of: if it helps you be a better discipler at home, a better discipler in your church, and create a culture where it happens. Because that is what King Jesus commissioned us to do as Christians, as ambassadors, as representatives of the King. He handed us, if you will, I think of it like an edict, like a here’s your marching orders. And that’s what we were given. And I just, I, I take that so seriously. And so that’s what I wanted to do with this book is to put some real meat to it and to give some examples and stories and practical application to say:
Hey, you can do this. Go start building this culture wherever you are.
Join God to Make Disciple-Making Culture Happen
Chad: Thanks Brandon. And you can find that book at himpublications.com. I encourage you to get that book for your team, read it for yourself, and gain from the experiences of others. Brandon you’ve, you’ve learned a lot of hard lessons, but as we’re focusing on this episode, you’ve really experienced a lot of the joys. So I wanted to close this mini-series out, this special series about disciple-making culture with just a snapshot of a story that you mentioned to me the other day about when you took a trip with your staff last year, back to Idaho. So you took the Real Life Ministries, Texas team back to where you started ministry. Give the listeners a peek into what that was like in terms of the reward for you as a disciple-maker.
Brandon: Yeah, we have, what’s called the gathering a conference back at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, where all of us, churches that are part of the relational discipleship network, we all go back there in the summer and we come together and just have a great time and celebrate and do some learning. And I wanted to go a little early with my team and I was born in Northern Idaho and some of my old favorite places and where I used to fish and grew up camping and all that things. I just, I wanted to share that with my team and spend some time together. And I value, whether it be here in Texas or wherever go that we do this, these things together. And so there was eleven of us that went and that’s a decent sized group and you’re in two different cars and we landed and went up to a place called the St. Joe river there in Northern Idaho.
And it’s this incredible place. And we spent two, two and a half days there together fly fishing and just hanging out and just being a family together. And it was just, it was very special because there wasn’t, there just is a closeness and a proximity that we have as a team, through all the things that we’ve been through together, through the culture, as we’ve said, that’s been created, and we were able to just celebrate how God has used us. Our church is getting close to a thousand people now and growing and getting up in those numbers, and to just see all the disciples that have been made and how each, how God used each person on the team.
And so they’re just, there wasn’t a pride, or there wasn’t animosity or jealousy or any of those kinds of things at all within the team. There was just:
- a wholeness
- a joy
- a love for each other
- a celebration of how God has used each of us and our gifts
And we just had a great time fishing together. We didn’t catch a lot of fish, but we just had a great time being together. And to me, if we can’t do those things and we can’t be in this together, it’s one of the things I learned from Jim Putman, that if we don’t have those relationships, when we’re building this culture that it’s just not worth it to me that if we’re not having those celebrations and the joy and having unity and doing it together, then I think we’re really missing what God intended for the kingdom to be and his church to be. And so we had a great time and I love my team and they love each other. And it’s just been a real joy.
Chad: Yeah, man, thanks for sharing that. And we’re talking about something that’s really hard to do. It’s to create a culture where disciple-making is normal, and for all the difficulties and challenges, we’ve got to remember that stuff because it’s, I think you’re right, man, it’s the fruit that God produces in our lives as we work with him to produce thriving disciple-makers.
The truth is, if we don’t take action, if we don’t try to make disciples empowered by the Holy Spirit, it’s not going to happen. God doesn’t force us to do it. We decide to join him, in response to him, as we’re sustained by him.
But in the end, when we do choose to partner with him in this, man, it’s so, Jesus talks about, “I came to give life and give it to the full,” and that’s what we’re talking about. This is the high life, this is the real high life that God intends for us, man. So what a great way to end this series. Is there anything else you wanted to add?
You Can Do This
Brandon: Just as I’ve done each podcast, I just want to tell everybody that’s listening: You can do this. You have the Spirit of God as a follower of Jesus Christ to empower you to do it. We have the Word of God that you can do this, to take the steps to do it. If it’s to, to get the book and read it great. If it’s to find likeminded people that are already living this out and doing this, then to go and learn to humble yourself and to grow, that you can do it.
Jesus wants to do the work of disciple-making in you. He wants his church to flourish and his kingdom to expand.
And so I just want to encourage everybody that you can do it.
Chad: That was Brandon Guindon on disciple-making culture. Thanks for listening to this mini-series. And if you haven’t already, now’s the time to look at his book Disciple-Making Culture. You can go to himpublications.com and find the book in the book section of the website.