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Spiritual Fathering and Front-Porch Discipling
If you want to find Pastor Don Coleman, you’d better start by looking on his front porch. Years before we met him, Pastor Don was “front-porch discipling” anyone who would come sit with him at his home in the East End of Richmond.
Who is Pastor Don?
Long before he became a Noble Warriors partner, God’s hand was on his life as He brought him through the church and ultimately into pastoring in the very city he was raised in.
“God shaped my life to lead.” Pastor Don grew up in a home where his parents were not always available to him, and at just seven years old, he and his four younger siblings entered the foster care system.
“One of the first miracles of my life is that my foster family took all five of us.”
It was one of the first signs of God building his story of life and ministry in the city he loved. God placed him with a foster family who loved him and pointed him to Christ. They faithfully carried their five foster children with them to their small city church each Sunday. It was in that small church he accepted Jesus into his life. A few years later, he and his brother went back into the home with his father, but they still lived in the city they loved and remained close to their siblings – yet another miracle. He was able to keep attending church in his hometown. As he grew older and attended college at VCU, seeing others grow deeper in their faith challenged him.
Growing up a “spiritual orphan” shaped Pastor Don’s ministry, and his passion for “spiritual fathering” was clear from the first time he and I met and began discussing the Noble Warriors vision.
“We need to sit down and talk,” Don spoke directly from the beginning. “Mike came across so strong; he was so sincere about men. We need other men around us, a place to land, pointing, modeling to other men to know how to build relationships.”
We formed a true brotherhood that day, and he found in Noble Warriors a brother and a family who share his passion and live this mission. A spiritual orphan needs only to meet Jesus to gain a spiritual family. It’s this spiritual family that Don and others, who partner with Noble Warriors, are committed to building, and to developing spiritual sons and daughters.
“We have to invest in men.”
And we became family – family that just looks a little different, which has given us the opportunity to have some Courageous Conversation.
The family bond my family has with Pastor Don is obvious – even if at first glance a news photographer didn’t quite see the connection.
He recalls, with a chuckle, a moment years ago at a National Day of Prayer event when our boys were younger. While standing together, we were approached by a photographer who wanted to know our connection.
“Oh, this is our Uncle Don!” one of the boys professed. By the look of confusion on the photographer’s face, he didn’t quite understand yet that even though our skin color is not the same, “we are family.”
Pastor Don’s spiritual family at East End Fellowship, where he pastors, happens to be 60% white and 40% people of color. He has a reputation of being an African American pastor whose desire is to be “anti-racist”… because the Kingdom of Christ transcends race. As one of the earliest workshop speakers for our conferences, Don always saw a great mix of cultures.
“We need to take on the posture of trying to learn. That’s what’s broken today in our world. We need to have proximity with someone from another culture, enough concern about one another that we can have courageous conversations.”
The intentionality was there from day one to have authentic cross-cultural ministry. His partnership with Noble Warriors over the years is one of the outlets through which he’s been able to develop many of those relationships
Within our cultures are broken men. We need to multiply relationships, seek and hear other perspectives, and build trust.
“We need everybody at the table.”
Intentionality in Today’s Environment
Pastor Don Coleman is a disciple-maker maker, one of the reasons his partnership with Noble Warriors is such a good fit. His intentionality when it comes to giving and reaching across lines fosters reproductive discipleship.
“I love men.” He intentionally invests in the men in his own community, and the relaxed environment of his front-porch discipling opens the door to press in to hard conversations.
He models God’s openness and willingness to receive all who will come. He served the public school system as Chairman of the School Board for the City of Richmond and prays faithfully and consistently for the kids and citizens of his community.
As a pastor, Don values the partnership Noble Warriors brings to the local church as a support and enhancement to men’s ministry. Investing in Noble Warriors produces quality events and resources.
Don is a man who walks the walk, a true example of what Jesus did in His ministry, and his example provokes others to live intentionally for Christ.
“When people see us love across boundaries, they will know we are Christians by our love.”
Jesus prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It is all about God’s Kingdom, not an individual. It’s about being Kingdom-minded right here, right now, on earth.
“We want to see the Kingdom impact the neighborhood, community, and region.”
Don’t ask Pastor Don, “What Would Jesus Do?” He challenges us to do what Jesus did.
If you are passionate like Don, you can contribute to spiritual-fathering and disciple-making through partnership with Noble Warriors. One way is to help us launch church-based small groups across the state.