DLC = Disciplemaking Learning Community. DLC‘s are Cadre's way of implementing the training of disciples in a way that reflects Jesus lifestyle as he incarnated and invested in disciplemaking friendships over three years. Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-13.
What does a Jesus-like Disciplemaking Learning Community look like in our twenty-first century Western culture?
This is the fifth indicator in a series about Disciplemaking Learning Communities, which we believe are crucial to becoming a disciple who makes disciples who makes disciples. These are not meant to be definitive or exhaustive, but simply indicators—to help you begin to wrestle what a Jesus-like Disciplemaking Learning Community looks like for you.
Keep in mind that it takes a minimum of two people to wrestle. And a real wrestling fan knows the best wrestling matches have more than just two people in the ring at the same time. So put a few people into the ring with you and dig into this...together...with Jesus.
Leading indicator #5 of a Disciplemaking Learning Community: A DLC requires planned time together.
““Jesus and his disciples went into a Judean countryside where he spent some time with them....” —John 3:22
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them: ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” —Mark 6:30-32
Shhh. Come closer. I want to share with you what I believe is Jesus’ secret for disciplemaking that transforms and multiplies. You interested? Okay, here you go. (Look both ways to make sure no one else is reading over your shoulder.) Jesus’ secret for disciplemaking that transforms and multiplies is... lots of time together with Jesus and a cadre of aspiring disciplemakers in a DLC (see John 3:22 and Mark 6:30-32 above). Think about it. With whom did Jesus strategically invest his short life? Jesus spent way more time with the disciplemakers in his DLC—the Twelve disciples—than anyone else.
Carefully consider this illustration below of how Jesus spent his time:
This triangle represents Jesus’ time. Jesus invested a relatively small percentage of his time with the crowds. He invested more time with his disciples. However, Jesus intentionally and strategically invested the overwhelming majority of his time with the Twelve disciplemakers in his DLC. According to The Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, “the bulk of Christ’s time was not spent in public ministry (17 times) with vast numbers of people, but in private with his disciples, as recorded approximately 46 times in the Bible.”
Why would Jesus invest way more time with those in his DLC than anyone else?
Consider the disciplemaking genius of Jesus. Life transformation is not an event, it’s a process-an arduous, challenging, and divine process-that requires lots of time together. Sorry busy Westerner, that’s just how Jesus-like disciplemaking works. In spite of all our technological, programatic, and systematic advances, there are no shortcuts to Jesus-like relational disciplemaking. Something is fundamentally lost in the disciplemaking process when we try to do it in a way that doesn’t look or feel like Jesus. So be suspicious and discerning of any approach to disciplemaking that smacks of quick, easy, formulaic, large, or impersonal. Jesus‘ approach to disciplemaking is snug, slow, and steady. We’re not kidding when we say, “Disciplemaking is relationships.” We get that idea from Jesus.
Therefore, a DLC seeks to lean into the disciplemaking genius of Jesus by being intentional and proactive about getting lots of time together.
Have you ever found yourself accidentally on vacation? Probably not. (As cool as that would be.) You know better than that. That’s why you plan your vacations—months in advance. You put it on your calendar and turn down all other opportunities that try to squeeze into that week or two. Because you diligently planned for that time and protected it, you were able to enjoy a vacation. You won’t find yourself accidentally getting time with those in your DLC either. You can be sure that if you get any time together as a DLC it will be precisely because you put it on the calendar and protected it. The question is: Will you dare to be intentional and proactive in planning time together with those your DLC? If yes, then there is great hope for you and your DLC. If not, then you’re just dreaming about a living life in a DLC.
Before I offer you a few examples of ways we’re learning to intentionally and proactively get time with Jesus and others in our DLCs, I’d like to first gently remind you of the DLC right under your nose.
Use links to connect Your DLC at Home and A DLC Outside Your Home sections.
A DLC Outside Your Home
Each year, I regularly ask the Lord to show me who (in addition to my family DLC) I should invite to be a part of a new cohort group for a DLC. (More to come on this later in the “Conclusion: How Do You Begin Your DLC Adventure?”) Here are a few ways we’re learning to get time with Jesus and others in these DLCs. These examples are NOT meant to be prescriptive. I am simply offering some real-life examples of being intentional and proactive about creating space to follow Jesus together.
* Day Long Gatherings: Once I sense I’ve invited everyone God wants me to invite to be a part of a DLC (no less than three of us and no more than twelve), I follow up to see who is in. Then one of the first things we do at our first DLC gathering is open up the calendars and schedules and plan our once a month day long DLC gatherings eight to ten months out in advance. Why? If you’re not intentional and proactive in planning time together, you’ll never gather as a DLC. But maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t have the luxury of taking a full day every month to be a part of a DLC.” Remember, I’m not prescribing how to get time together. I’m insisting on being proactive about getting time together as a DLC—like Jesus did. How you actually get time together as a DLC is only limited by your creativity. (Once I drove 16 hours with three other guys to go to a NFL football game. In reality it was a 16-hour mobile DLC with a football game in the middle.) For some, a day long gathering is going to be perfect. For others, not so much. If a day-long DLC will not work for you, no sweat. Please keep reading.
* Evening Gatherings: Can’t—or don’t want to—do a full day DLC? All good. I encourage you to wrestle how to create space to follow Jesus together via a DLC that gathers at least a couple of evenings a month. (Weekly would be even better.) This is probably going to be the best way to bring volunteers and students into the life of a DLC. Remember Jesus’ secret for disciplemaking that transforms and multiplies? A DLC requires planned time together. Perhaps this evening type of DLC gathering could work best for you and those in your relational sphere of influence.
* Lunch Gatherings: At each of our DLC gatherings, each person schedules a lunch with one or two others in our DLC. This small lunch gathering usually takes place before our next whole group DLC gathering. These lunch gatherings should be men gathering with men and women with women. Each lunch group of two or three uses the lunch gathering for three purposes: 1) sharing our personal stories and heart connection, 2) dialoguing what we’re learning about loving God, loving people, and making disciplemakers, 3) praying together. DLC lunches are usually about once a month, but can be more often if people want.
* Family Gatherings: At our first DLC gathering, we also try to plan a time for all of the DLC families to gather at our house so we can enjoy each other and get to know each other’s families. Why? Do you really know someone if you’ve never been in their home, met their spouse, or interacted with their kids? Just asking.
* Car Time: In addition to all these possible times together, I share my ministry schedule and invite anyone from our DLC to ride in the car with me—and do life and ministry together. (Again, since I am a man, I invite other men.) Some can come and do. Others can’t. I always offer an invitation. There is never any pressure.
* The Ongoing Nature of a DLC: Once a DLC cohort group completes its first 8-10 months together, we then continue to gather together with previous DLC cohort groups for ongoing study, application, and replication of the disciplemaking genius of Jesus. This growing group of aspiring Jesus-like disciplemakers might be akin to the 72 Jesus sent out in Luke 10:1. This ongoing DLC group gathers together 4-6 times a year for a full day of disciplemaking, learning, and community. In between day long gatherings, we meet for havering and community over lunch about 4-6 times a year.
Why all this hard work of intentionally and proactively scheduling time together with those in our DLC? Here’s a true confession I’m not afraid to make: I need people in my life who are trying love Jesus, love people, and make disciplemakers like Jesus. So when I find them, I move them to the front of the priority list. They get more time. I get this crazy idea from Jesus.
Now, let me be very clear: I’m not implying you need to do exactly what I’ve outlined above. In fact, I encourage you not to copy exactly what I’m doing. It probably won’t work for you. You need to figure out what getting time together with those in your DLC looks like for you. (Hint: “Dear God, show me how to create space and get time with those you are wanting me to gather with as a DLC.”) I am simply saying a DLC requires time together in some way, shape, or form, and if you don’t proactively write your DLC priority into your schedule, it will never happen.
No time together = not a DLC.
Pause, Ponder and Discuss
Pause: A DLC requires time together in some way, shape, or form, and if you don't proactively write your DLC priority into your schedule, it will never happen.
Ponder your DLC:
Are you together with your community more like 1 X a month (or less), 2 X a month or 3 X or more?
Discuss your thoughts.