Billie Hanks Jr.

Billie Hanks Jr.
A Short History of the
Modern Disciple-Making Movement

The founder of the modern disciple-making movement, Dawson Trotman, was born on March 25, 1906 in Bisbee, AZ. He became a Christian at the age of 20 and early in his walk with Christ, he made a major discovery. If he invested personal time discipling a new convert—the quality of that man’s spiritual life would be radically different from Christians who were simply given a quick hand shake with no follow-up when they joined a church. For this reason, Dawson developed friendships with new Christians and showed them how to grow by listening to God’s Word, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on it, to apply it to their lives.

In 1934, he founded a para-church organization called “The Navigators.” Today, this is a global ministry. His vision was to equip dedicated men and women to carry out the Great Commission.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19)

Billie Hanks Jr., founder of “Becoming a Disciple-Maker,” was born on May 24, 1944 in San Angelo, TX. He was reared in a ranching family and at the age of 10 received Jesus Christ as his Savior.  In his teenage years, he recalls—“Every summer I would go to the revival services at my church and, ‘go forward.’ I always marked the box saying I wanted to re-dedicate my life to Christ. People must have thought I was very worldly! The truth is—I wasn’t—I was just expressing the reality that I genuinely wanted to grow deeper in my faith. The problem was, I needed someone to show me how by their example.”

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

In 1954, Billie and his family were vacationing in Scotland and several members of the Billy Graham evangelistic team “happened” to be staying at the same hotel. Billie met Billy Graham and Grady Wilson (Billy Graham’s associate evangelist) and they became life long friends. Grady discipled him for over 23 years until he went home to be with the Lord.

At the age of 20, Billie became BGEA’s first intern. He traveled throughout the world with the Billy Graham team learning crusade evangelism and became an experienced evangelist in his own right having preached in 29 countries. Later, when Billie was 35, he was invited to serve as a “minister at large” for BGEA. In this capacity he equipped several thousands of disciple-makers to minister to new Christians.

As a freshman in college, he read a book that would change the focus of his ministry forever.  It was entitled Born to Reproduce by Dawson Trotman. Later in seminary he read The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman. Realizing the importance of life-to-life training, he began discipling men who had a passion for carrying out the Great Commission. Together, they developed disciple-making materials for churches to use throughout the world. Billie graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth Texas with a Master of Divinity Degree, and received honorary doctorates from California Baptist University in Riverside, CA and Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO.

In 1972, The International Evangelism Association was born and today it guides the highly effective ministry of “Becoming a Disciple-Maker.” It implements a relational life changing New Testament disciple-making process in numerous countries and languages. His goal has always been to work through visionary Christian churches, colleges, universities, and seminaries.

Billie has personally discipled a number of godly leaders along the way.  Some of these men are outstanding Christian educators and businessmen. Others are dedicated pastors and missionaries. Among that number is Rick Warren who wrote The Purpose Driven Life.  In Rick’s biography, A Life With Purpose written by George Mair, Mr. Mair mentions the impact of disciple-making on Rick’s life:

“During Rick’s time in California, he was influenced greatly by two people: Billie Hanks Jr. and W.A. Criswell.  Meeting these two individuals would play a large role in determining the direction Rick Warren took, and would lay the groundwork for what would one day would become Saddleback Valley Community Church.” (pages 51 & 52)

Billie Hanks Jr. actively ministers widely throughout the world and at West Texas Ranch for Christ. The “Becoming a Disciple-Maker” Lead Church strategy and friendship based equipping process is now being taught for credit in Christian seminaries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Dr. Hanks has followed in Trotman’s steps and is teaching thousands of Great Commission minded pastors from many denominations how to close their “back doors” and “equip church members” to grow and multiply spiritually.