Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Black

(1) What’s new since Downline?  Any updates on family, work, and church?

There’s a lot of new things since Downline! Some of the more day-to-day habitual differences are that I continued the practice of getting up early to spend time with the Lord and I’ve continued to explore some hymns— two things I rarely did before. My time with family is much more purposeful, specifically with my younger siblings. Before Downline we had the “doing life together” down really well, but since Downline there’s been more transferring of truth. Seeing things through the lens of the Gospel at work has impacted my life there as well; I realize now much time and influence I have with and on people there— and by God’s grace I’m able to see all situations through the lens of the Gospel, no matter how challenging or inflammatory to my pride they might be. I see much more than people now, I see the masses. God has blessed me with a group of 9th graders who I do life with now; everywhere I go, they go— and they’re my family. I’m praying that the Lord will use them to reach places on Pike Ave. and the surrounding area that I could never get to. One of them even made a trip with me to Louisiana to visit family for the 4th of July, and the impact that had on my family has yet to be seen I believe.

(2) What has disciple-making looked like for you since Downline?

Disciple-making for me has looked like four 15-year old dudes that have no father figures in their lives. I see them on wednesday nights at youth night for the church, and I’m afraid that would have been the extent of our relationship if it wasn’t for Downline. But because I understand how Jesus did life together with his disciples, my relationship with these young men goes much deeper. I pick them up on weekends, take them to family events, show up at tryouts, visit their families, bring them to work events, and invite them into my life however I can. I originally thought I was going to impact them for Christ, and see the change in them— and though that’s happened by God’s grace, I’ve discovered that God has done more in my heart. I’ve experienced what Jesus must have felt as He saw His disciples grow and mature under His love and example.

(3) What did you learn in Downline that you’ve used most or has most shaped the way you make disciples?

I’m not sure I’ve unlocked all that I’ve learned in Downline yet, which is cool to think about. There are lessons that are my favorites, like Romans 12, Great Commission, Bible Reliability, Ephesians, Bible Overview, and Revelation— and there are lessons that have been most impactful to my particular disciples (15 year old young men); some of those lessons are Biblical Uniqueness of Men and Women, Definition of Biblical Manhood, Four Faces of Manhood, and Romans. The Great Commission session is probably the session that most shaped the way I make disciples through 3 important truths about the text: the commission is for me, it’s to be done “as I am going,” and that Jesus and I do this together, on His authority.

(4) Biggest challenge of making disciples?

One of the biggest challenges of making disciples is being patient until God reveals to you the disciple He has for you. God’s purposes for a person’s life are very specific— and a discipleship relationship is very deep and lasting, so being patient is key. Also, the discrepancy between what you think discipleship looks like and what it actually looks like. Here’s an example: you expect your disciple to show up with a pen and a pad, eagerly awaiting a life-changing experience of the spirit through a lesson that you deliever—but in reality it’s a phone call when one of your disciples doesn’t make the team, and it’s a word of encouragment in that moment that opens up a conversation about identity and purpose. Finally, pride. The pride to think that you can know, do, or say things that change a person’s heart. It’s the Lord that does this, so the challenge is not to put too much pressure or focus on yourself, but rather show them Christ and His glory. Prayer takes care of each of these challenges. There are times when you wonder if you’re making any difference at all— but it’s not up to you to make a difference, it’s up to you to be obedient. So ask God to do what only He can do, and trust Him to do it.

(5) Most satisfying part of making disciples?

It’s hard to target THE most satisfying part of making disciples! There’s nothing sweeter than seeing someone experience Him. I know that’s big, and broad, and perhaps vague or “churchy”— but seeing Jesus take His throne in someone’s heart and begin to manifest new desires in their life to His glory is satisfaction beyond description. Or to see a young man catch a vision for biblical manhood, and to see Christ direct His desires toward that vision. It feels like I’ve done what I was created to do when that happens; I’ve known and experienced God’s glory, then helped someone else do the same. I love Jesus for this too, because He’s designed it in a way that all men and women can do. We don’t have to preach every sunday to get this satisfaction, it’s available to every man or woman through His proven model of discipleship.

(6) What encouragement would you offer your fellow DL alumni?

My encouragement to fellow DL alumni is to trust the One that goes before you. If the discipleship model was good enough for Jesus then it’s good enough, period. You don’t have what it takes, God does— so abide in Christ. Remember that you’ve got time for people, and make adjustments if you don’t. Two things will last forever: God’s word and the souls of men— so when you’re tired, or you want to just relax, or you know you’ll have to get out of your comfort level, remember that Jesus left a throne to come be with us … a really comfortable throne. It’s likely we won’t do anything in our vocation, our church, our families, our neighborhoods, or our lives as important as giving you life for someone in the form of discipleship. Since going through Downline I’ve met many of beautiful, radiant believers who have loved and served the church and its people faithfully, but something was missing— and it was discipleship. Discipleship is not a peripheral part of following Christ, it’s much more central than we think—it’s foundational. Just the fact that we understand these things after going through Downline is God’s grace, so be patient as it develops in your life because it’s a lifetime pursuit. Finally, dream God-sized dreams; expect to attend a lot of graduations, marriages, anniversaries, and even funerals perhaps— and do it knowing that you’ve given your life for someone as Christ modeled, through discipleship. Lord willing we will be surrounded on our death beds in old age by those we’ve discipled, and those they’re discipling.