What Apple Gets About Disciple Making

April 2018 Blog Theme: The Bold Moves of Disciple Making

Not long ago I was in the Apple store working on my iPhone. A young lady was helping me—she probably looked to be in her early twenties. While she was working on my phone I starting talking to her about her job. I asked, “Have you been working here long?”

“No, not really. Just a few months,” she said.

“Do you like working here?”

Her face lit up, “Oh yes!”

Seeing her enthusiasm, I decided to inquire further. “Well, I bet it’s hard, learning all this stuff. You must have had to sit through hours and hours of training, right?”

She smiled. “Not really.”

I asked, “So how did you learn to do what you do?”

She said, “Well, I went online and saw there were job openings, so I registered for a two-day seminar hosted at a local hotel ball room. After two days, they placed me in a store and assigned me to a mentor. For the first few weeks I just wore regular clothes and the mentor wore the bright Apple shirt and lanyard. I just watched everything he did and took it all in. After dealing with a customer, he would ask me if I had questions or we would discuss that particular situation.”

By this time she had stopped working on my phone and was completely into this story, so I kept listening.

“Then,” she said, “after a while, I put on the Apple shirt and lanyard and my mentor dressed in regular clothes and he followed me around as I took care of customers. If I had a problem, he was ready to jump in and help. When he thought I was ready, he just set me free to go on my own. Now I’m prepared to do the same things with another trainee!” She smiled.

I did, too. Because what she described was disciple making, Jesus style. Jesus took in curious men, drew them to faith, let them shadow him for a season, and then he cut them loose to go on their own. When they were ready, he watched them reproduce into seventy-two more men. His plan was so simple and yet so profound. Jesus drew men to himself, let them follow him until they got it, and then he sent them out to reproduce.

When I look at the modern church, I’m grieved that somehow along the way we’ve missed the strategy of Jesus. Somehow we traded making disciples for making decisions. Somehow we traded a clear process with running programs. We stopped moving people through stages of maturity and started shuffling people between services. Somehow along the way we thought that if we got people to worship and in a group that they would figure it all out and become strong, when in fact, the church has become weak.

We’ve forgotten that the church exists to train up men and women who will take the gospel to their offices and neighborhoods and the world, and we started just trying to fill seats. What Jesus gave us was simple, reproducible, and powerful.

Apple gets it. Do you?

Written by Craig Etheredge

This blog is an excerpt that comes from our book Bold Moves which you can purchase here.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash


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5 thoughts on “What Apple Gets About Disciple Making

  1. What an excellent example drawing from the corporate to how naturally we can reproduce disciples.

  2. Profoundly simple – simply profound!!

  3. For years the church has presented a Gospel that is self-centered rather than God-centered. Our prayer meetings are largely about how I can get God to fix my problems than seeking what God wants no matter what the cost. Believers actually think this is the norm and that there are two classes of believers, the ‘deeper, more spiritual, more dedicated’ believers and regular folks. We have promoted an “education based” approach to Christianity and not a “responsible, relational” approach. So, people take the out that has been provided – they engage in Bible studies to demonstrate their devotion. That’s their obedience. It’s okay if the deeper folks do evangelism/discipleship, because that’s their “gift”. And we have many with “gifts” so we can have more distinction among believers.
    What we need to impress on folks is that you’ve always been and will always be less of who you’re supposed to be without abiding in a desperately dependent relationship with Jesus. Like a marriage, with Jesus with are more than we are as individuals – and that completeness is only in the midst of the relationship. It cannot be imparted to us so we can merely go our own way. As long as we allow Christians to believe they are growing toward self-sufficiency or will achieve a working level of self-sufficiency we will not have disciples – we will have hirelings.
    Jesus tells us in the parable of the wedding banquet that a proper guest honors his host by putting on wedding garments. I believe we receive those garments when we first believe. They’re not our size, our style or our favorite color. We’re supposed to put them on and allow the Holy Spirit to build us up and transform us into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ so we can co-labor with Him in reaching a lost world. We’ve let people believe that they can come to the wedding wearing whatever they want and God will have grace upon them. We need to preach a higher vision before we ask for a decision.

  4. Great example! Sometimes I wish we in the church were so strategic and intentional about training and equipping our people. This is a great illustration. thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for the comment!

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