In the first half of the 1990’s I was a public high school history teacher and coach. As a relatively new follower of Jesus myself, the classroom provided countless opportunities to invest into the lives of teenagers. By God’s grace, many of those young men eventually came to faith in Christ, some directly through my witness and others indirectly through those I was discipling. After nearly six years of teaching, I sensed that God was calling me to cross-cultural missions. So, after finishing my teaching contract, my wife and I moved to seminary to prepare for overseas ministry. We rented out our tiny little home to a friend from church. One day she let us know that a note had been left taped to the door of our home she was renting. The note read, “Coach Robinson, I don’t know if you remember me, but I remember your investment in me. Through all of my struggles, you never gave up on me and kept sharing the love of Jesus. I thought you’d want to know that today I turned from my sin and trusted Christ. Thank you for never giving up on me. Sincerely, John.”
John and I kept in touch over the next few years and when, by God’s providence, we moved back from overseas into our hometown, John met us to help unload furniture! Immediately, John started contacting all of his old high school friends, many of whom he had led to Christ. He invited them to a Bible study that we started in his home, with me, their former history teacher, now teaching them how to study and apply God’s Word. Eventually that fledgling group started meeting in my basement. For several years we met every week, studying God’s Word together and holding one another accountable as followers of Jesus and fishers of men. I would frequently spend individual time with them, inviting them into the rhythms of our family life and my ministry. My relationship with those young men was both informal and intentional. It was informal in the sense that I was not leading them through a curriculum per se, but rather I attempted to interact with them where they were in life and in their walk with the Lord. It was intentional in that I invited them into aspects of my life and ministry, allowing them to walk alongside me, interacting with them and holding them accountable to what they were learning on the journey.
Many from the Basement Gang felt called to vocational ministry in other cities, so our intentional meetings eventually came to an end. It was only at that time that I shared with them how I had used Robert Coleman’s book The Master Plan of Evangelism, and the principles he expounds upon from the life of Jesus to guide my informal discipling of them. Among the young men in my Basement Gang were several salesmen, a banker, a landscaper, and a musician who worked at Wal-Mart. Several of them became church planters, pastors, and teachers. Not because I invested in them but because God Himself was orchestrating and empowering their lives. I simply got the joy of walking alongside them as a “Barnabas” on that journey.
You don’t need a seminary degree to host a Bible study. You don’t need a basement to create a gang of disciples. You simply need to be available and willing to step out in faith and trust God’s Spirit to do what only He can do: raise the dead.
Adapted from George Robinson’s book Generational Disciple-Making.