By: Stan Rodda
Every now and then someone has asked me a question along these lines, “How do I know when someone is ready to be discipled?” The short answer is simply discernment. We need to be in tune enough with the Holy Spirit to know when someone near us is ready to be challenged and invited into a next step. But without discernment, there are some qualities to look for in a person to know when they might be ripe for harvest.
But if you are looking for a practical tool, I like a simple tool called, “FATSO.” This tool will work for you whether you are a pastor, ministry leader or a lay person simply trying to make disciples in your workplace or neighborhood. It helps you identify people in your sphere of influence who are ready to be invited into a next step or to ultimately say “Yes” to Jesus.
Let’s walk through through this tool together. FATSO stands for…
People most likely to follow you into a next step of being discipled or saying “Yes” to Jesus, are people who are already faithful to you. They believe in you. They have attended your church for some time and are the first to arrive and the last to leave. They are all in on the ministry God has given them. They show up every time. They are faithful people.
Available people are the “anytime, anywhere” kind of people. You tell me what to do and I’m on it. What time do you want me there? I’ll be five minutes early. Oh, you’re having a meeting? Count me in. They are available to the ministry or church you lead. Or they are the neighbor that always shows up. If you host a cook out at your home, they can’t wait to be there. They are available to you when you move toward something. Look for people who always show up.
We all have things to learn when it comes to disciple making and following Jesus. None of us is perfect or knows all the answers 100% of the time. So when looking for someone to disciple, you’re looking for a teachable person. When someone simply wants to get together with you to argue theology or to point out a mistake you made in your sermon when you called out a reference and were off by one chapter, they may not be a teachable or humble enough person to move to the next step. Disciple making requires teachability.
The sendable person will go where you point. It’s the example of Jesus with His disciples in Luke 10. Go to those villages over there. He pointed and sent them. Sendable people are with you wherever you go. If you need them somewhere, they get there quickly. They are sendable.
Similar to sendable are obedient people. When Jesus sent His followers to villages ahead of Him, they not only went, but were obedient in proclaiming the message He gave them. Your obedient types will not only go where you point, but they will share the Gospel, tell their story or pray with a neighbor on the sidewalk. But far more important than them being obedient to a homework assignment or next step, is them being obedient to the voice of God in their lives. As they hear God’s voice and obey, they start to hear the unique calling and direction God has for them. And when God calls, they are obedient to His voice.
Some of the people most likely to walk with you in a disciple making relationship are FATSO’s. Obviously, this isn’t a foundational truth across the board. Sometimes outliers will surprise you when they show up and you’re shocked they are there. That has happened to me before. But overall, FATSO is a great identifying tool to help you discern who is ready to be discipled.
I hope this tool helps you make disciples right where you are. If you find it useful, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment and share your story of how FATSO helped you identify someone who was ready to make disciples and what God is doing in their life now.
Let’s take Kingdom territory!