Recruiting Like Jesus

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If you are at all like me…you’re always on the lookout for leaders and leaders of leaders (whether you call them coaches, mentors, community leaders, etc.).  Isn’t that our reality?

In the last few weeks I’ve been studying the gospels, examining them to try and understand the sequence of Jesus’ invitations to the disciples.  Here are three of the things I’ve discovered and three questions that remain:

First Invitation: Many scholars believe that the first recorded encounter that Jesus had with any of the disciples is found in John 1:35-42.  You know the story.  Two of John the Baptists’ disciples, Andrew and Simon, hear him call Jesus “the lamb of God” and follow Jesus.  He turns around and sees them and asks, “What do you want?”  They ask “where are you staying?”  And Jesus says, “Come and see.”

My first question: If you had asked Andrew and Peter what they were doing when they accepted Jesus’ invitation to “come and see,” what would they have said?

Second Invitation: The next invitation seems to happen about a year later.  Found in three of the gospels (Mark 1:16-20, Matthew 4:18-22, and Luke 5:1-11, this is Jesus’ invitation to Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John to fish for men.  In the Luke version of the incident, Jesus uses Peter and Andrew’s boat as a teaching platform and when He finishes teaching the crowd, tells Simon Peter to “put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

You know the story.  They’ve already fished all night and caught nothing.  Peter reluctantly does what Jesus said to do (“because You said so”) and catches such a large catch that the nets begin to break.  They signal their partners (James and John) to come out and help them.  They are all astonished, Peter falls to his knees, and Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid.  From now on you will fish for people.”

They pulled their boats ashore, left everything, and followed Jesus.

My second question: If you had asked Peter and Andrew, James and John what they were leaving their nets to do?” what would they have said?

Third Invitation: After the feeding of the 5000 there is a conversation recorded in Luke 9:18-27 that happens privately among the twelve.  This is probably another 6 to 12 months after being invited to fish for men.  Here He tells the twelve, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Now, perhaps 18 to 24 months into their journey, they hear “come and die.”

My third question: What did they hear that and fully understand?  As you read the rest of the gospels, Jesus reminds them several more times that they are following someone who is about to suffer and be killed.  Peter tells Jesus to quit saying that.  Jesus rebukes Peter.  The disciples do not seem to have clarity on what is coming.

Conclusions:  Jesus made a progressively more challenging “ask.”  The disciples’ first response was to “come and see.”  Their second response was to “fish for men.”  Their third response was to “come and die.”  They followed and ultimately died for their cause.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Raul Cabrera on May 30, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Love this, Mark. This is one of my favorite subjects, actually. What it shows is that over time, Jesus built trust (relational equity) with these men – much like what should happen in a small group.

    Also, in John 1, Jesus gives us a key secret to relational discipleship – empowerment. He says to Nathaniel – “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.” Here, Jesus speaks to Nathaniel’s CHARACTER, calls him out for who he is.

    Imagine if we all were to speak to people’s character, seeing them through the eyes of Jesus…people would be relationally empowered all over the place!

    Great article Mark. Blessings sir √

  2. markchowell on May 30, 2013 at 7:27 am

    There’s so much to learn in these invitations! I love it! Thanks for jumping in here Raul!


  3. Libby Myrin on May 30, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Thanks for these solid points, Mark! We’re silly not to look to our Leader and His approach as we try to craft our own in His name. I appreciate the simplicity you provided in:
    come and see
    fish for men
    come and die
    I’m tempted to connect those three responses to:
    join a small group
    invite others to join you
    go all in and lead one
    Yet I think we often miss the mark on the last one. We don’t have to be gentle. Jesus was pretty clear on what those men were committing to, even if they didn’t fully grasp it. So my question is . . . 🙂
    How can we communicate the vision and purpose of small group leadership with such intensity that people with come and die for the cause?

  4. brian phipps on May 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm


    Love how these are categorized! Here is a progression I have been working with:

    Seeker: John 1 “come and see”
    Believer: Mark 8 “who do you say that I am?” come & believe
    Follower: Luke 9 “come and die to yourself”
    Leader: John 21 “feed my sheep”

    The key is providing the proper invitation to the appropriate experience at each level… and making sure that each experience has a clear path to the next. At Westside, we not only do this for individuals, we do it for Group Leaders as well… as they tend to bring 8-10 people along with them for the journey!

  5. Andrew Mason on May 30, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Sounds to me like the three stages are: Get More Info, Catch the Bigger Vision, Make A Lifelong Commitment. Never thought about these passages in this way. Great article Mark!

  6. markchowell on May 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    Hey! I like your thinking! I think we’re all asking your question. And I think the answer is just the way Jesus did it. He made it easy to begin. He included the twelve in ministry in ways they could put a toe in the water. And…He brought their relationship to a place where He could challenge them to take the next step. I also think we are really bad at not taking into account the fact that Jesus modeled the commitment level required and only after they saw His example did they follow to that extent.


  7. markchowell on May 30, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I like where you’re taking your Group Leaders! Good stuff Brian!


  8. markchowell on May 30, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Sounds good Andrew! I like your thinking!


  9. Rick Howerton on May 31, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Still journeying with you on this topic, still pondering, still wondering. Thanks for keeping this conversation alive, Mark.


  10. markchowell on May 31, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I’m glad for your interaction! Thanks Rick!

  11. Bertrand Baleydier on June 1, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Brillant. You answer questions I had for a long time. Thanks Mark.

  12. markchowell on June 1, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Glad you found what you need!