Teaching TRUST through Deer Hunting, and Discipleship

For all you deer hunters out there, we are currently in the middle of shotgun season here in Northeast Indiana. Though I have owned a shotgun for over a decade, this past week was my first time actually ever going out hunting. Admittedly, I didn’t kill anything, but I did see 12 does and a buck. Pretty good for my first opening day!

As I talked with the other, more experienced hunters at our deer camp, I quickly realized I was way out of my league. These men and women had generations of deer hunting, muzzle loading, and blood tracking, running through their veins. I on the other hand, didn’t even have on any camouflage. Still yet, I was greener than the leaves in the tree stand I was supposed to sit in.

Needless to say, I had to trust these much more experienced hunters, quite literally with my life. They schooled me in using the firing safety, wearing orange, and how to approach a dying stag correctly.

As we conversed, I could tell I was trying to compensate for my lack of real life hunting experience with the fact that I had owned a shotgun for a long time. I had even mentioned how I won many shooting contest when I was younger at differing firing ranges. But as the saying goes, these hunters didn’t just talk the talk, they actually walked the walk, and they could see right through to my naiveté.

It’s one thing to own a gun, take it out for a cleaning on occasion, and set it back nicely on its stand. But it is an entirely different story to actually wake up at 4:00 am and make the trek out in 30 degree weather to watch the sun come up and fire away at Bambi.

I was eerily reminded how many people treat their bibles like I had my shotgun. Sure it looks good on display, but what’s the point of having one if you never use it? The Scriptures are living and our bibles are not meant to collect dust.
As if this wasn’t a shocking parallel enough, I thought of all the passive Christians I know. As believers in faith, we have the Spirit of God, The Creator of the Cosmos living in us. We aren’t mean to sit like bumps on a log and allow our spiritually to collect dust. No, instead we are meant to make disciples (see Matthew 28:16-20).  Christianity is a movement!

Another translation for the Greek, “make disciples” is to school, instruct, or apprentice someone. That’s what Jesus did with the twelve and then he commissioned them out into the world to do the same “until the end of age.”

Those hunters at deer camp had to school me in the basics of hunting 101. They taught me not just with showing and telling, but also by doing and being with me. The same applies to us in the Church when we are making disciples of all nations.

One of the key elements to any relationship, but especially with those in discipleship, is establishing trust between the mentor and apprentice. To help articulate what trust means, I have developed this acronym to explain the various elements that need to be present in both parties.

T = truthful

R = reliable

U = unselfish

S = servant oriented

T = time committed

Discipleship and spiritual formation are a continual process of lifelong learning, done best in relationship. The Church or community of faith should be the foundation for creating and growing a culture of trust in discipleship making.

Again, even though I didn’t tag a deer that weekend, the experience and exposure to hunting has been a step in the right direction for me becoming a hunter. It’s a process that requires trusting relationships, just like discipleship. As the influential missiologist, Donald McGavran used to say, making disciples is to “enroll in [Jesus’] school.” Students learn together from a teacher. And we have the greatest Teacher in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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