Image for From Gangbanger to Hope Dealer: The Importance of Disciple Making (Part 3)

From Gangbanger to Hope Dealer: The Importance of Disciple Making (Part 3)

Photo of Myron PierceMyron Pierce | Bio

Myron Pierce

Myron is the most unlikely leader in his region. At the age 18, he stood before a judge while facing 200 years in prison due to his life of gang banging, drugs, and crime. While facing a life sentence of prison time, one thing changed: his heart. He’d surrendered his soul to the Lord Jesus. While leaving the courtroom with a 16-to-33-year sentence, Myron had heard a whisper. "I'm going to get you out of prison to plant churches.” This word from God became the vision that has now inspired thousands. Through a series of miracles, the prison doors opened for him after 8 years. Myron received his B.A. in Biblical Studies and Business Leadership at Grace University. He is currently working towards finishing his M.A. in global leadership from Crown College. Myron has authored several books, including Digital Ministry. He has launched a host of churches and businesses and is the Lead Pastor of Mission Church, a grassroots inner-city mission with a dream to saturate every inner city with diverse Hope filled churches. He and his wife, Kristin, live in the heart of North Omaha with their three sons and daughter.

Myron Pierce had been discipled by gang bangers into a life of crime, but it was when he faced a life sentence that he learned the importance of disciple making for Jesus. This is Part 3 of Myron Pierce’s story (here are Part 1 and Part 2).

Q: At and, we teach that, if you plant churches, you may or may not get disciples in the process. But if you make disciples, you’re going to eventually get a church. Can you make a case for why you have made disciple making the core of the churches you’ve planted?

We take the time to make disciples of Jesus (not just church attenders) because the times are critical. There is always an urgent need for people to find redemption. Unfortunately, we can get inundated with life at the expense of being saturated by disciple making.

Not only are the times critical, but, more than ever, the harvest is plentiful. Jesus told His disciples, “Look up! Look at all these people! The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” Now the harvest may not always be plentiful when it comes to inviting people to attend a church event on Sunday morning. But there are many people who are hopeless, and therein lie countless opportunities to build friendships which lead to making disciples.

“There are many people who are hopeless, and therein lie countless opportunities to build friendships which lead to making disciples.”

Also, the second coming is inevitable. Paul is addressing the church in Corinth when he says that what they’ve done is going to be tried by fire. Some of it’s going to burn up. Some will last, and what lasts is what you’ll get rewarded for. There is incentive for our works to actually survive being tried by fire when we stand before Jesus.

Q: How have churches missed the mark when it comes to our core mission?

Our marching orders are from King Jesus. And they are to make disciples, not just event attenders. Unfortunately, we’ve typically made our case for event planning and church growth, not disciple making. But Jesus never told us to break 200, break 500, break 1,000. He told us to make disciples.

Whatever we aim at, we keep getting, and whatever we keep getting, we start creating more of. It becomes a culture whereby the metrics we use to embody success become what we perpetuate in the lives of those who are following us. So, churches need to get serious about asking what success really looks like. Is success a matter of building better events or making lifelong disciples?

Q: Walk us through your method for reaching a neighborhood for Jesus.

I walk through a missional process that can be memorized through the acronym PODS: prayer, outreach, disciple making, and spiritual family.

We enter into a new community beginning with prayer. I remember when we planted a church in the neighborhood I grew up in, we’d be doing these “Jericho marches.” We’d be in our cars at midnight or one o’clock in the morning just circling the neighborhood, praying. We’d get out and meet the neighbors. Then, we’d go back to our building and pray again. We’d pray and pray for hours and hours.

“From prayer, we get our marching orders because we are able to see what the needs are.”

From prayer, we get our marching orders because we are able to see what the needs are. We’ve been able to, at least for the inner city, bring it down to four areas critical for meeting needs: reentry (people coming in and out of prison), the next generation (people 15-16 and younger), community engagement (bringing people together because there’s a lack of trust between the ethnicities), and entrepreneurship. Then we ask God which of these lanes He wants us to enter into at the current season.

The O stands for outreach. We throw outreach parties, these big events paid for at our expense. Through these parties, we discover new relationships that lead us to (D) disciple making. However, I also think disciple making begins at the beginning of the process. The whole spectrum is disciple making, not just #3.

Q: At, we say that disciple making begins at hello and ends with, “Now go.”

Yes! And prayer, outreach, and disciple making always lead to (S) spiritual family. So, PODS is the process for anyone that we raise up as a missionary, church planter, leader, disciple maker.

Q: How do you deal hope in your inner-city context?

In our context, a disciple maker is a hope dealer, and we deal hope by leading people into a hope-filled life with Jesus. Why such an emphasis on hope? It’s all over the new covenant: we give reasons for the hope that lies within us; Jesus Christ is our hope of glory; now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; Jesus is the hope of the world.

We also define three domains of disciple making: relationships, experiences, and opportunities. First, we need to be in intentional relationships. Second, we need to be cultivating memorable, life-on-life experiences with our disciples. Third, we set our disciples up for opportunities for kingdom advancement. We try to see people how God sees them based on spending intentional time with them.

Q: You have an effective weekly rhythm for discipling people. Can you walk us through it?

Our team brought it down to this: a disciple of Jesus functions in five different ways: living the mission of God, being clear on the Word of God (biblical clarity), hearing the voice of God, obeying God, and caring for one another.

Each week, we reinforce these five ways in our discipling relationships. First, I’ll sit down with a guy and say, “Okay, how did you deal hope this week?” This is how I hold him accountable for being missional. Second, we’ll read a chapter in the Bible and I’ll ask him to summarize it in two words. This helps him with biblical clarity. Third, after reading the Scripture, I’ll ask, “What did you hear God say?” because I want him to be hearing the voice of God. Fourth, I’ll ask, “What are you going to do about it in the next 36 hours?” This one gets at obedience. Lastly, I’ll ask, “How can I pray for you?” That gets us thinking about how we can care for one another. We’re trying to dismantle the idea that the pastor is the only one responsible for “pastoral care.” The whole church needs to be caring for each other.

“We’re trying to dismantle the idea that the pastor is the only one responsible for pastoral care.”

Another way we put it is in 5 H’s: We focus on hope (“How’d you deal hope this week?”) head (“How would you summarize this chapter in two words?”), heart (“What is God saying?”), hands (“What are you going to do about it?”), and help (“How I pray for you?”).

Q: I like how this is simple, effective, and reproducible. It probably doesn’t take a new disciple very long before they can take this and use this to disciple someone else.

Yes, and every week, we reinforce these things. We talk about what a disciple is, what disciple making is, the functions of a disciple, etc. I’m constantly reiterating these things, and they’re being trained sometimes without even knowing it.