Discipleship Story: Ben Coulter
Ben Coulter is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Magnolia, Arkansas. He has been featured here on the blog before. He is a former student of mine from BCM days in Monticello, Arkansas as well as serving as a co-pastor at Journey Church in Monticello. He is an incredible singer (search for his music on iTunes!) andhelped me with a song I wrote about the Razorbacks. If you haven’t read the introduction to this series,please check it out here! Here’s Ben's story:
Making disciples is a passion of mine, and it was a passion that was passed on to me by those who discipled me. I long to see others grow into mature, obedient disciples of Jesus through becoming a part of discipling relationships. I was forever changed by discipleship, by being shown how to really follow Jesus.
After committing my life to Jesus I began attending the University of Arkansas-Monticello. The day I walked into the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) building would change my life forever. It was here that I would meet some of the people who would help mold me into who I am today. Jeff Noble, the BCM director at UAM, began to invest in me not long after I got involved at the BCM. Jeff would take me and some other guys and intentionally disciple us through studying Scripture, prayer, reading books, discipleship curriculum, etc. It was here that I learned many of the spiritual disciplines that remain with me now around 15 years later.
But it was in the life on life portion of these relationships that made the most impact on me. It was here that I found it what it really meant to follow Jesus. Paul writes to the believers at Corinth to “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) Discipleship is more than just meeting in a group for an hour a week. Discipleship is showing someone how to follow Jesus in their everyday life. Jeff was a great example for us younger guys to follow.
We were able to see how Jeff interacted with his wife, his son, and his daughter. We would go out to eat with Jeff. We would play video games with Jeff. Jeff showed us that we could be true disciples of Jesus and do “normal” things. The key is bringing Jesus into these “normal” things, and Jeff showed us how to do this. One example comes to mind for me of how Jeff showed me how to follow Jesus and live in the world. Jeff and I went to watch one of the Matrix movies at the theater in Monticello. Jeff had shown us how to use the first Matrix movie to share the Gospel with others. We were anxious to watch this sequel. As we watched the movie, there was a sexual scene that we didn’t need to watch. Jeff told me to get up. We walked into the lobby for awhile, so we wouldn’t fill our minds with what was on screen. In that moment, Jeff was showing me how to keep myself pure in the world. I’ll never forget it.
Another lasting impression that Jeff made on me when it comes to discipling relationships is meeting in public. Jeff would take just me, or a group of us, and we would have our discipleship group time in public at a restaurant in Monticello. This was so impactful for me. I was able to get comfortable in reading the Scriptures, praying, and talking about Jesus in public because of this. The people around us were also hearing what we were talking about. It was really a simple concept, but very impactful. Since then, I’ve always tried to meet with the people I’m discipling in a public place.
Even though that was way back in the early 2000’s, when I need direction and wisdom I still reach out to Jeff. Discipling relationships will change your life, and they never end. There is a bond I have with those in whom I’ve been in a discipling relationship that can never be broken. We are to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) as followers of Jesus. We do this in discipling relationships. We labor for each other that we may all know Jesus more and that we all may be disciples who make disciples of all peoples. I’m thankful for Jeff, and all those who have labored for me to be a disciple who longs to know Jesus more and make Him known by making disciples of all people.