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Thursday, 25 June 2020 07:12

Pass on the Baton

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Below is taken from the YouVersion Bible app plan, "The Bible in One Year with Nick Gumbel" (Day 175) with my commentary inserted (in italics).

In Acts 16:1-15 we read about the beginning of the Apostle Paul’s mentoring relationship with Timothy. Specifically, we see how Paul trained Timothy. At the end of the devotional we are told about Paul’s final letter to Timothy (2 Timothy)  In 2 Timothy 2:2 we see the culmination of the mentoring / training relationship where Paul expects to see four generations of disciples. This is one of the great blessings of a spiritual mentoring relationship  – becoming a spiritual great-grandparent.  

DTI Pyramid

Paul recognized he had a responsibility to train up others. He found Timothy – ‘a fine young man’ (vv.1–2, MSG). Timothy was discipled, trained, and taught by Paul. Paul was a mentor to Timothy. They are a great example of what we all should be doing. Find a Paul from whom you can learn and find a Timothy to whom you can pass it on.

As with so many, I would say that every major strategic step or decision I have made has been inspired and encouraged not from a pulpit in a crowd of thousands but rather by someone within arm’s reach. There is no doubt that preaching can make a big impact, but we often overestimate the amount of truth that is assimilated between the pulpit and the pew. In my life, truth shared in proximity has been a key to my own personal growth. This seems to have been the key for Timothy.

Is the Sunday gathering the most important component of discipleship that occurs throughout the week?

It was through Paul that Timothy had become a Christian and they became very close friends. Paul was older than Timothy and he described their friendship as being like that of a father and son (Philippians 2:22). Paul described Timothy as ‘my son whom I love’ (1 Corinthians 4:17).

They went through a great deal together. ‘They travelled from town to town’ (Acts 16:4). They even spent time in prison together. During all this Timothy would have been watching Paul and being trained up as his successor.

Are you willing to be this invested in the life of another believer?

It is not enough to hope that the ‘Timothy’s’ are watching us. We must strategically position younger disciples to have significant opportunities to lead. Paul bestowed on Timothy real responsibility. He could trust him because he knew him so well.

I have been told by pastors that they are unwilling to let newer believers’ disciple other new believers because they don’t know what they are going to say. Is this a function of lack of training and not spending time with the disciple at the beginning of their faith walk?

Paul involved Timothy in the work right from the start. They took decisions together (v.4). Through their ministry together, ‘Day after day the congregations became stronger in faith and larger in size’ (v.5, MSG).

Timothy learned about the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When they tried to enter Bithynia, the Holy Spirit ‘blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either’ (vv.6–7, MSG).

This is an important lesson in life. I can think of at least five occasions in my life where I have felt that I should go in a particular direction ‘but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow’ (v.7) the plan to succeed. As I look back now, I am so thankful the Spirit stopped plans which, in hindsight, were clearly not the right ones.

God then led Timothy and Paul in a new direction: ‘During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us”’ (v.9). Not surprisingly Paul took this as clear guidance that they were to go to Macedonia: ‘All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans’ (v.10, MSG).

In Philippi, Timothy would have watched Paul on the first Saturday that he was there, going down to the river where there were a group of women praying (v.13).

As Paul spoke about Jesus, Lydia, a rich merchant woman, was converted. She invited Paul and those with him to come and stay in her home. It must have been an extraordinary and wonderful experience for them both to see how the ‘Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message’ (v.14).

The final letter attributed to Paul is 2 Timothy. To the very end of his life, Paul’s priority was encouraging and releasing the next generation. Let’s make it ours too!

Final question: In your church, is discipleship a “program” or part of your Body’s “DNA”, where it’s just as natural to spiritually mentor another believer as it is to share our faith with those who don’t yet know Jesus?

Lord, help every ‘Paul’ to find ‘Timothy’s’ who they can train up. Help every ‘Timothy’ to find a mentor like Paul who will pass on all their experience to them. Amen


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 virtual mentoring

Have you given up mentoring because you can’t meet in person? This article will give ideas, tips and tools for navigating the new virtual “normal.“

Living through the COVID-19 environment has prompted more people to search for God with answers to their anxieties, as evidenced by numerous articles and discussions, which only increases the need for discipleship / spiritual mentoring.  Don’t STOP spiritually mentoring at this time of crisis for many people, but use updated tools and methods to build relationships when it may not be practical or safe to engage in person.

God is NOT hindered by our Social Distancing, even when we think we are limited! He is at work, and people need you.

After we moved across the country, I spiritually mentored via phone when I could no longer meet in person.  I am also mentoring a woman in another country by using our Discipleship App and internet calling.

Below are tips that are effective for virtual mentoring.  God is not surprised by technology! We are blessed to live in a technological world that we can reach out via different mediums.  There is no perfect, right way, as each situation is different, but here are some suggestions. 


  • Do not allow technology to be the focus and diminish the Holy Spirit’s role in both the mentee and mentor’s lives. Our God is big enough to capitalize on using technology.

  • EXPECT glitches in the technology, since the enemy will cause all kinds of breakdowns to distract both of you from what He wants to do. (Another reason to be sure you pray before you begin!). 
    There may also be distractions from children or pets or unexpected guests who drop in. 
    What do you do?  Start over; pray; end, if necessary; set up another time.  Discern what God tells you.

  • LISTEN carefully to each other. Listen not only for what is being SAID, but what is NOT being said.  It is easier to put on a “mask” when you can’t see their body language.  So it’s important to be perceptive, with the Holy Spirit guiding you, as to what is REALLY going on in their lives. 

  • While we suggest in-person mentoring sessions be about 90 minutes, it’s harder to go that long virtually, unless there is an unusual level of engagement. 60-75 minutes is a better time-frame.  Be sure to set the expectation of how long at the beginning of each session, so everyone knows what to expect.

  • While effective mentoring always involves using a facilitative style of asking questions and getting input from the mentee, be very aware of how much you are talking. Instead of trading off reading the scriptures (like we usually do in person), the mentee might read more because you have been doing a lot of talking!  This also allows you time to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to what to say next.


  1. VIDEO CHAT (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, FaceBook Messenger, Google Duo, etc.)

    You can video chat with each other (probably using a phone) – so you can see each other’s faces and expressions, while using either the printed material OR the DTI app on another device, such as a computer.

    Be sure there is good lighting on your face, so they can see you. Preferably prop the phone where it shows you clearly and isn’t moving around.  You can’t hold it steady in your hand for an hour!   (Consider a selfie-ring light with tripod stand to both hold the phone and illuminate your face.)

    Be aware of what’s behind you in the video and of background noises that might be distracting. 
  2. ON PHONE (no video) with each person having the PRINTED material in front of them. (Or each person having the DTI App open on their phone or computer.)

    I have effectively used FaceBook Messenger audio with the person in another country to call me (at an agreed-upon time), while we both have the DTI App open on our computers. 

    An additional tool is to view together the short video snippets in the DTI App.  You can both watch, but you should mute your phone so you are listening to the mentee’s speakers.   (Better yet:  you but to avoid audio feedback, mute your phone so you are listening to the mentee’s speakers. (Better yet, watch it ahead of time, so you are not surprised, and then just listen).  This is how I prepare for my sessions, as I continue to be reminded of the principles, allowing God to guide my preparation.

If you have not mentored before, I suggest you read the suggested guidelines detailed in the DTI Mentor Training (Lesson 2-3), as most of these guidelines apply to virtual mentoring, as well. Click here to go to Lesson 2-3 in the electronic app.

Click here to download the app to your mobile device.


Monday, 27 January 2020 11:57

Q & A With DTI

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Below are five common questions we receive and the answers and resources we provide to help you implement a vibrant discipleship culture in your church.

Wednesday, 04 December 2019 06:06

DTI Newsletter November 2019

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Our most recent Newsletter is available here. Highlights include extensive revisions to the DTI Manual and a preview of Cuba 2020.

Specific for pastors and leaders is the Redefining Discipleship document.

Thursday, 19 September 2019 07:38

The Purpose & Goal of DTI

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Our passion to help believers grow to spiritual maturity, spiritual fruitfulness, and spiritual reproduction in Christ is knit together with our desire to be true to Scripture.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 12:58

A Note from the Author, Art Barkley

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We believe there are some foundational principles that all believers, especially newer believers, need to understand and internalize. Often Biblical “knowledge” is presented to new Christians rather than personalized instruction of Biblical “principles” to apply in their lives to help them mature more rapidly.

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Wednesday, 10 July 2019 16:52

Are You A Typical Modern Church Congregation?

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How Discipleship is Presented in a Typical Modern Church Congregation

Wednesday, 10 July 2019 09:36

Where Am I? Diagnostic Tool

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Many believers don't know where they are spiritually. This diagnostic tool is intended to help mentors and mentees evaluate where they are in relation to four "spiritual catagories."

Wednesday, 01 May 2019 08:41

DTI APP for Mobile Devices

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Download English APP

Descargar Español APP (Beta Version)

 DTI material now available for mobile devices

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