Interview With Seth McBee About Being On Mission, Community And Discipleship

Who is Seth McBee?

Seth McBee is the adopted son of God, husband of one wife and father of three. He’s a graduate of Seattle Pacific University with a finance degree. By trade Seth is an seth mcbeeInvestment Portfolio Manager, serving as president of McBee Advisors, Inc. Today, he’s a preaching elder with Soma Communities in Renton, WA and part of the Executive Team with the GCM Collective. In his down time he likes to CrossFit, cook BBQ, host pancake ebelskiver breakfasts at his home and many other neighborhood events in his hometown of Maple Valley, Washington

Question: What do you do (the strategy) to make sure that people in your church are being discipled do that they can go and disciple others?

My strategy to ensure people are making disciples is pretty simple.   We trust in the work of the Spirit as we live out the implications of the gospel in community as a family of missionary servants.  I am not sure any other way to “make sure” people are being discipled.  You can do trainings, classroom discussions and studies, etc. but that isn’t ensuring anything is actually happening.  You must get the people in community, living out the implications of the good news with the power of the Spirit for this to happen.  We see this is exactly how Jesus did it as well.  We can see him discipling his disciples on the mission field with the broken 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time was just with the disciples.  The interesting thing is that by doing this we get to see the real responses of the discipleship process, meaning, we even as readers 2000 years later, get to see where the disciples need the gospel.  We see Peter saying some pretty stupid things and the apostles failing to heal (Matt 17) and asking Jesus for explanation, (with many other examples) all these happening as real responses from being on the mission field.   So, by living out discipleship on the mission field, you will see where you, your missional community and those that are not yet believers actually need the good news of Jesus in their life.  When you are having a BBQ and a neighbor’s kid spills his fruit juice on your carpet and you yell at him and get angry at the cost of carpet cleaning, it reveals you need to understand who’s carpet it actually is and why you have your home.  You need the good news applied to both your anger and your possessions.  If you have the BBQ with your MC, and you see them as family, they can point these gospel needs to you with confidence you desire correction to make you more like Jesus and under his Lordship in every area of your life.

Not only this, but we encourage everyone to live as normal people with normal lives, but understanding they have an abnormal calling.  Everything we do needs to be transferable to each one of our people instead of discipleship only being able to be done by a select few.  If your discipleship can’t be transferred over to a single mom, a CEO or college student…you are probably not doing what Jesus was doing.  He lived in such a way that was transferable to a wide range of people.  Fisherman, tax collectors, zealots and even crazier…women. (crazy for that day…don’t get mad at me).

The last thing I’ll say about this is to realize that the second people meet someone, they are discipling them to who Jesus is.  Everything you say and do people perceive is what a follower of Jesus does.  When your people see this difference, it opens their eyes to understanding discipleship and how much they are discipling in the every day.  Much more to say on this topic, but we don’t want to belabor that here.

Quick summation: Holy Spirit empowered, Gospel saturated,  in community, on the mission field, transferable, in the every day.

Question: Do you make disciples in a group (Life Group or Missional Community) or do you do it one on one? Or is it a combination of the two? Please explain.

Both, but mostly, like 90%, in community.  There are times to meet up one on one, I get that.  But that cannot be the totality of our discipleship.  There is a reason that God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, God calling out Abram to start a new nation, God calling the people of God the church, a family, a body, a flock.  Because the point of all these are to point people to who God is and what he is like.  God is Trinitarian, therefore, by living and discipling in community, we show off who God is and the fact that he lives in community as Father, Son and Spirit.  If I merely disciple someone one on one, that person will start to look like me, instead of Jesus.  I can call them my disciple, instead of them being Jesus’ disciple.  It would be like going to the gym and merely working out your right bicep.  Sure, that bicep will be huge, but it will not help your whole body’s development.

Again, this doesn’t mean you negate one on one, but you must see the fallacy of that being the way to make a fully formed disciple of Jesus.  Even Jesus rarely met with the disciples one on one…what makes us think we should spend most of our disciple time doing that?  Unless one thinks they are greater than Jesus.

Question: How often should Life Group or Missional Community Leaders meet for training? What curriculum do you use?

How often? Not sure.  This will be different for every community.  We need to be careful from trying to set this up for all people for all time.  Some questions to ask to determine for one’s community would definitely be these:

  1. Where do we see our people needing to be trained in?
  2. How long do our people need to live out the training before we start a new topic to train them in?
  3. Can we gather for training that will not interrupt their normal discipleship lives in an unhealthy way?  If yes, the question then comes, how often should this be to make sure it is not a burden?
  4. Can we use our other gathering times for training? MC meetings, Sunday gatherings, etc.

We use many of the resources found on the GCM Collective.  I am about to embark on this with my MC as I am moving and expecting three MCs being born as I leave.   I will be going through these first: Empowered by the Spirit; Gospel Fluency; How to Create an Environment for Discipleship; The Power and Purpose of the Gospel.

Question: What should we do if there is a lack of Life Group or Missional Community apprentices? Steps to take?

They are there.  Usually people just have too high of expectations for apprentices.  Too high being the apostle Paul would struggle to pass your test.  I think the very first step is to ask the Spirit to reveal them to you.  Remember it is the Spirit’s mission and the Spirit’s power, so he’ll provide the workers.  We must rely on him and him alone for leaders to be not only born, but empowered.  Once he shows who this is, and he will, take extra time with them.  Make sure you are continually living life on life with them and tell them what you see in them.  Tell them you believe they’ll be leading some day and you believe in them because you believe in the power of the Spirit.  If we think every one of our kids are going to be “good enough” to one day lead their own families, we should look at our MC family the same.  Every one of them could lead, doesn’t mean all of them will.  But, just as you treat each of your children differently because of age, maturity,etc. do the same with those in your MC.  Some will be ready for leadership more quickly, so spend more time with them now readying them to multiply, and when they do, look for the next batch by asking the Spirit again.

This all goes back to the first question though.  You have to make sure that you are discipling in ways that are empowered by the Spirit, transferable and in the every day.  If you do this, more people will believe it’s easy to lead an MC.  I am about to leave for Arizona and my MC is freaked out some, but they know that they can do everything that I’ve done, because everything I’ve done is pointing them to the Spirit’s power, easily transferable and very much in the every day.  They’ll miss me because we are family and I have some distinctive gifts, but they won’t miss me because they don’t think they could do the exact same thing with me gone.

Question: What are a few books that you have read lately that have had a big impact on you?

I always get rocked by seeing the life of Jesus and how he lived with the power of the Spirit, in relationship with his Father and discipling in such simple ways.   I have been reading the Bible and focusing on the life of Jesus looking for these things.  Powerful.

Other books that have been killing me, in a good way, are Creating a Missional Culture by JR Woodward and also The Permanent Revolution by Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim.  Both focus on Ephesians 4 with the giftings given to the church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers.   Both these books are revolutionizing my thoughts on the church and I believe is the tip of the iceberg for the church at large.

Question: Is Caesar Kalinowski coming out with a book? If so, tell us why we should be excited about reading it.

The reason you should read it is because Caesar does a great job of showing everything I/we believe about discipleship in the everyday empowered by the Spirit.   Love that guy…he means a ton to me.  Great friend and even better brother.

The book will be coming out next year, stay tuned!


If you want to learn more about Missional Community life go to GCM Collective. There is a GCM movement underway in South Jersey; if you are interested you can contact me (Michael Wallenmeyer).

Missionary or Business Person? Interview with Tara Russell

Tara Russell

An interview I did with Tara a few years ago…

I first learned about Tara Russell and what she is doing for the kingdom of God from the VERGE Conference website. Tara will be one of the speakers at VERGE this week. I was inspired by her story and I trust you will be too.

Michael: Hi Tara. Tell us a little about yourself.

Tara Russell: I was born in the mid-west in Pennsylvania and moved a good bit as a kid.  We lived in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan before moving to Indiana where I graduated from high school.  I’m the oldest of three kids and have fabulous parents (still married) who now live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I played a lot of sports, and had many Christian friends, but didn’t grow up in the church.  I went to college at Georgia Tech in Atlanta and studied Mechanical Engineering before going to work for General Motors, Intel and Nike.  I now live in Boise, Idaho with my husband, Jeff, and my kids, Tyson (6) and Lucy (4).

Michael: You are the CEO and Founder of Create Common Good. Explain to us what CCG is all about.

Tara Russell: CCG is about “teaching people how to fish.”  We provide experiential job training and employment to refugees and others in need in order to equip them to find, perform, and retain jobs and move towards self-sufficiency.  We use food to change lives and operate small-farms, value added food production, and culinary training and gourmet food service.  I spent years in Asia working with General Motors in Shanghai, China and then again in Bangkok, Thailand working with women involved in prostitution.  I know first hand the difficulties and challenges one faces when living as an “alien in an unknown land.”  When the economy tanked in 2008, unemployment in the refugee community skyrocketed to nearly 50% in Boise.  Create Common Good was born to fill the gap and prepare refugees to thrive in the workplace.

Michael: NightLight International is an organization for at-risk women in Bangkok, Thailand that you helped start. Tell us about it.

Tara Russell: NightLight is an organization that seeks to bring holistic life transformation to at-risk women.  In many ways, my work starting NightLight with a group of friends in Bangkok was very similar.  I focused much of my effort on the job training and business aspect of the new organization.  NightLight (NL) helps women leave the bars and enter healthy employment by coming onboard to make NL jewelry.  NL jewelry is then sold all over the world.

Michael: Few people wake up one day and just randomly decide to start a company. What inspired and motivated you to start these two companies?

Tara Russell: In 1999, when I was living and working in Shanghai for General Motors, I spent the year praying about whether God wanted me to be a “missionary” or a “business person.”  I was trying to figure out what to do with my life, and I saw these paths as two distinct paths.  During that year, God showed me that I was made for business, but that he wanted me to live in this messy space between I’ll call “social enterprise.”  In essence, I felt God wanted me to figure out how to use business to transform lives.  He affirmed to me that work IS spiritual, and we were all made to work.  We were all given unique gifts and talents, and the challenge we all face is figuring out how to best use them to improve the lives of others.

Michael: Not everyone should attempt to start their own company. With that said, what would you say to the person who is seriously wondering how they can make a difference in such a big world?

Tara Russell: I think the first step is trying to identify what you’ve most gifted with – what’s “in your hand” so to speak.  What do you love?  What keeps you up at night?  What is your heart burdened with?  Whether you start volunteering somewhere, go to work with another organization, start a non-profit or for-profit, all have great purpose.  There isn’t one path that’s the right path, and another that’s wrong.  God asks us to work with all our heart as if working for him, regardless of where we’re at (Col 3:23-24).  I believe we’re all called to tangibly put love in action, somehow.  To me, that is living out the gospel, daily.  Whether you’re being there for a neighbor who needs to be heard, standing up to advocate for women-at-risk, being the best mother possible, or modeling grace to a co-worker, we all have the chance to do that daily.

Michael: Let me guess…you are kinda busy! How do you balance being a wife, mom and an entrepreneur?

Tara Russell: Life is crazy, but crazy wonderful.  My husband and I both run start-ups, and we have two small kids.  That said, we have built a lifestyle that we feel is healthy and we’ve created rhythms that work for our family in the season we’re in.  We protect our quality time as a family ferociously.  Our kids don’t do a million activities – they go to school part-time and then are at home otherwise for the most part.  We enjoy simple dinners at home, sitting down as a family at the same table, and lots of play time on the weekends and breaks (runs, bike rides, hikes, ski dates, etc.).  My husband and I have learned that we’re both quality time, not quantity time people.  🙂  We’re both fairly independent, but we treasure our time together.  If he’s been traveling or I’ve been traveling, we create a special space to connect, just the two of us, and have some fun together.  As a mother and entrepreneur, I’ve had to be open and flexible to shifting my work schedule in varying seasons of my kids’ lives.  I’m mom first.  When the kids get sick and need me, I reschedule all my plans.  I have had to be really FLUID essentially, and sometimes it means working in the evenings or at night once my kids are down.  But I do work in an office outside the home, and we have a great babysitter that watches the kids a few afternoons a week.  Another afternoon we “kid share” with a family on our team, and one afternoon a week I work from home.

Michael: Name a few books that have really challenged you lately.

Tara Russell: Books…such a good question!  I’ve been reading a bunch lately and loving it.  I loved VENEER: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (written by some friends, Jason Locy and Tim Willard) and I loved Ordering Your Private World (Gordon MacDonald).  Xealots, by Dave Gibbons, is another great read.  And Leading on Empty, by Wayne Cordeiro.  I’m finding it so important to really work on my “inner life” as consciously as my outside, day-to-day world.