Beach Babes and Gentle Waves: The “Zero-Entry Devotion Driven Discipleship” Strategy

Not so many years ago, my family made an ocean sized mistake when we took our future daughter-in-law Kasey to the Pacific Ocean for the very first time. We were all so excited to show her our favorite beach that we didn’t consider what her first experiences with the ocean should be like. We didn’t think about the temperature of the water, the quick drop of the shoreline, or the force of that beach’s waves. Instead, all we thought about was how amazing that particular beach was and how much we wanted her to enjoy it. Unfortunately, Kasey’s resulting experience was less than ideal. And, turns out, what we physically experienced on that beach with Kasey taught me some important spiritual lessons that have since led to what I call a “zero entry devotion driven discipleship” strategy. 

Now, I think most Christ-followers would agree that we want the next generation – of children, students, young adults and new believers – to grow in their faith and become strong, confident Christ-followers themselves. However, I’ve noticed that what we believe and how we put that into practical application can be given as little thought as my family’s incipient ocean experience with Kasey. 

Alas, on that infamous day, we took Kasey to the prettiest beach we knew in the area. When we got to the beach, we found our perfect spot in the sand, laid out our swim towels and headed for the water. Kasey, unaccustomed to and uninformed about anything related to the ocean, just followed everyone else to the waters. However, whereas the rest of our family had learned through the years how to move through the beach’s incline and stand up in the rough waters, Kasey was immediately pummeled by the waves.

In shock, Kasey crawled out of those waters, shivered her way over to our beach spot, curled up in her beach towel and quietly declined entering the ocean again on that trip.

We still laugh about that experience, and fortunately, Kasey is still laughing with us enough to find it in her heart to marry my son in our beach-loving family. However, years later, Kasey is still marked by her experience. She’s still getting used to how to get into the ocean. (When I read her this article for her permission to share the story, she affirmed such is true!)

Thing is, the way we led Kasey into those ocean waters is similar to the way I think sometimes we lead people in the body of Christ. We’re so excited for them to know God and enter the deep waters of His Word, but we don’t think through their lives, familiarity, background or experiences. We don’t put a lot of individual thought into which ways will most simply and easily help them get accustomed to and excel in their new spiritual life. We just want them to quickly acclimate, participate and, by the way, bring others into the water as well. 

To be sure, there are definitely those who take to God’s Word like, as they say, fish to water. These people will immediately be able to swim out into the deep waters of God’s Word in devotion and discipleship – – – and this is always amazing!

However, far more people need to be gradually introduced to and led into these very important, essential, life-giving, eternal waters. We want to invite them in and inspire them that they have a place in the deep end of God’s Kingdom. However, we also want to help them to gradually get wet, equip them to stand their ground in the waves and teach them how to swim. What’s more, we want to model to them how to help those they love and care be able to get into the waters, too – – – but not have to wait until they’re “experts” to bring them in.

This is why Family Disciple Me has developed what I call a “zero entry devotion and discipleship” strategy. This approach makes it easy for us to help every Christ follower learn how to meet with God and then make Him known. The “zero entry devotion driven discipleship” approach deliberately removes the hurdles and eliminates as many barriers as possible. It also teaches a mindset that allows each individual the space and place to learn, grow and take on new experiences as they are able. 

Rather than taking someone to a precipitous shoreline, a “zero entry” approach is more like finding a gentle calm harbor. In retrospect, this is what we should have done with Kasey. Just a few miles south of the wild beach where we took her, there’s a calm, tranquil beach called Baby Beach. It’s a very flat beach with easy access, a smooth shoreline and gently rippling waters.

The beautiful thing about Baby Beach is that, every time I go past it, I see so many people there. Parents, grandparents, extended families, babies, toddlers, children and teenagers and young adults. Old and young, athletic and disabled, sleeping or playing. Literally every age group and stage of life is represented. It is quite the contrast to the beach where we took Kasey. 

At Baby Beach, it’s so easy and inviting to tiptoe to the waters then get in, one inch, two inches, three inches, more. What if we made this true in discipleship, too? What if, instead of leaving people to figure out the deep waters of the Word on their own, we welcome them in, conversation by conversation, verse by verse, truth by truth. We take them with us, inching closer and closer to the waters. Then, before we know it, they’re able to head out into some real waves on their own. 

Thing is, the waters of God’s Word are as endless and boundless, beautiful and amazing as the ocean. Meeting with God and making Him known is the adventure of a lifetime. It is as amazing and wonderful and vast as the oceans. 

However, let’s not leave those entrusted to us to brave the waves on their own. Let’s not assume they will figure out their way or simply stay above the waves by watching our example. Instead, let’s deliberately guide our people to the zero entry shoreline and then dip our toes in discipleship with them.

Be encouraged! ❤️ 


Share this post