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Taking Discipleship out of the Coffee Shop

By August 4, 2015Discipleship

Discipleship can be quite the buzzword sometimes. We all want to be discipled, we know that we should be discipling, we see the value of discipleship in building missional communities and yet actually living out the discipleship model often feels elusive.

When you think about discipling someone, what environment comes to mind? A coffee shop maybe? Sitting down across from one another for some focused time together discussing life’s challenges and mysteries?

But let’s be honest, how much time do we have in our lives to sit down for an hour or so over coffee?

For a while I struggled with feeling like I didn’t have time to pour into another person. I had one or two young women I met with once a month, but struggled to find the consistency I desired in discipleship. The other frustration I had was wrestling the desire to disciple more young women while also feeling my budget and schedule didn’t have room for more coffee dates.

Eventually, I started to realize that the best discipleship doesn’t happen over coffee. The best discipleship happens over laundry, running errands, long car rides, and pulling weeds. Rather than struggling to find more time and money for coffee dates I have begun to just invite young women into my life and in doing so I have found infinite time and budget to walk alongside as many women as would seek me out.

This model shouldn’t be such a huge revelation; when we look at scripture we see few times where Jesus is spending set time face-to-face with His disciples and many times where He is teaching them along the road as they go, teaching them as they fish, as they eat together, as they go about the day-to-day mundane tasks that are just a part of life.

The effectiveness of this life model of discipleship became really clear to me one day when I met with a young woman for coffee but didn’t really feel like the conversation was going as deep as it needed to. On a whim I asked her if she’d like to go thrift-store shopping with me. As we searched through racks of clothing side-by-side she began to open up and share the deep hurts and struggles I suspected were there. Side-by-side she poured out the hurts she never would have had the courage to speak out face-to-face over coffee.

So how do we move discipleship out of the coffee shop and into our everyday lives? And especially, how do we do it without feeling like Tom Sawyer convincing people how fun it is to white wash a fence?

Here are five tips on how to move to a life-on-life discipleship model.

  1. Don’t be a Tom Sawyer. Which means, don’t invite someone into an activity just because you don’t want to do it. This seems like a little bit of an obvious tip, but is an important heart check. The issue here is not the activity itself, the issue is if our desire is just to get someone else to do work we don’t like or if we genuinely want to spend time with that person investing in them, teaching them the value of doing the hard things well.
  2. Be kingdom minded in conversation. This is true whether you are sitting down over coffee or are cleaning out the basement together, but is all the more important to remember when you are working on a task side-by-side. Much like Jesus would take the mundane and teach about the kingdom, we have same opportunity in our side-by-side conversations. Actively point out the kingdom concepts you see in the tasks you are doing together.
  3. Be real. Invite your disciplee into things you actually would be doing anyway. If you try to force activities that aren’t natural to your day-to-day life it will feel forced; it also won’t be sustainable. I know it feels like you need to think of something fun like a craft project or baking cookies, but trust me, you’ll be shocked how many millennials are willing to come clean your house with you just for the chance to spend time together. Remember Mike’s post a few weeks ago about millennials secretly wanting to be mentored?
  4. Invite yourself into their life too. Life-on-life doesn’t just mean inviting someone into your life, it also means inviting yourself into theirs, asking to come walk along with them in the everyday. They don’t have time to get coffee because they have to pack up their dorm this weekend? Go help them pack! Entering into to the mundane of someone else’s life communicates how much we really care, and teaches practically that we will be there for them even at their worst.
  5. Don’t abandon the coffee shop completely. There are still times when those face-to-face meetings over coffee are the best environments for the conversations that need to be had. One way to have these face-to-face conversations in a more budget and schedule friendly way is inviting your disciplee to come cook dinner with you and then share that meal together.

When we look at discipleship as a part of everyday life we realize that we have far more time to give than we realized and that we have far too few excuses not to invest in someone else’s life.

The flipside of this is advice is for those that desperately want to be discipled but can’t seem to find someone that has the time. In part 2 of this post we’ll talk about how to find discipleship when it seems like a mythological creature.

What are some ways that you bring discipleship into your everyday life? Comment below or join the conversation on twitter with #3DMdiscipleship

Photo Credit: Kody Dahl, Instagram @kodieodie

About Leah Lesesne

Leah Lesesne, MA is an Inner Healing & Wellness Practitioner with Shelemah. She and her husband are a part of Bethel Atlanta and have a small urban farm in their backyard. You can check out her blog at www.shelemah.com or follow her on twitter @leahlesesne


  • dlacich@gmail.com' Dan Lacich says:

    Good words! I remember a Christian youth organization that connected adults with young teens in need of a mentor. The objection was always, “I don’t think I have time to add another thing into my schedule”. The response was brilliant, don’t add something into your schedule to try and make room for this young person, rather include them in the things already in your schedule. I always say that making disciples is not something that requires a specially trip but it is rather in the going that you are already doing.
    I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  • Timfong888@gmail.com' Tim says:

    Great idea of integrating life. It’s the good kind of multi tasking!

    I wrote about garage cleaning as a source of spiritual breakthrough. Could be a good activity to invite someone into.

  • adfleming@gmail.com' Andrew says:

    In reading your post if occurred to me; This is also how it works with discipling kids. 🙂 We worry so much about “training them up” that we think we have to have special moments and family devotion time etc. that we can miss how easy it is to just talk to our kids about life, while doing the things of life. Like dishes, laundry and cleaning the garage. Awesome post Leah.

  • Papabreen@gmail.com' Mike Breen says:

    Really great insights Leah! The highest praise I can give you is you sound just like Sally -and you do! Love it. M+

  • merrybethohler@gmail.com' Merry says:

    This. Thank you.

  • Kimbaligian@gmail.com' Kim says:

    Really loved this! I’m a mom of four but have a girls group who are in their 20 something’s that I’m discipling, it’s hard to have time for coffee with everyone but love the life on life interaction that you talked about in the blog. Still learning and trying to make sure they know they have access to my life and having that open invitation. Thanks for sharing!

  • whitmansophie@gmail.com' Sophie says:

    Great blog Leah – this is also how I feel about raising kids. Often you see parents trying to ‘entertain’ they’re children, by giving them the best toys, etc. But from my experience with young children, they just love helping you out – whether that be washing up or hanging out the washing. It’s empowering them to do something useful. And I think millennial s also want to feel empowered that they’re doing something useful.

  • […] The rest of this guest post I wrote for 3DM can be found at Discipling Culture […]

  • […] my last post I talked about how to take discipleship out of the coffee shop and into our everyday lives. While this is helpful and encouraging when you are the one doing the discipling, what do you do […]

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