“JM is a brilliant Bible teacher who has the uncommon ability to translate sound doctrine and theology to our generation. It’s unfortunately rare to find people who are willing to engage the questions being brought to scripture and God. It’s even rarer to find somebody who can articulate appropriate responses to those questions and in the process teach people how to properly read and understand the Bible. This is why every time we offer Bible classes, my first call is to JM.”
Chris Thayer – Zoar Campus Pastor, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, Charlotte NC
My Training Story – JM Smith, Disciple Dojo Founder
Being a PK (Preacher’s Kid), I was raised with a familiarity and general understanding of the Bible. During my high school years I determined to read the Bible all the way through and study it in-depth in order to be able to know what it is I truly claimed to believe and whether or not I actually believed it all for myself. It was also during this time that I began regularly pillaging my Dad’s library for books on everything from the Historical Jesus, to Christian Ethics, World Religions, Theology and Apologetics.
By the time I got to college, I had a hunger for Biblical and Theological studies as well as Apologetics-based Evangelism. As an art major (AFA. – Reinhardt College, BFA-Painting/Drawing – University of Georgia) I had very little book study requirements…so I used those years to study on my own. By the time I graduated, I had decided that I would probably go into the ministry of some sort, but I wasn’t sure exactly where God was leading me. I spent a year working as the Campus Outreach Intern at the UGA Wesley Foundation where I did small group Bible studies, Apologetics training, and open-air preaching on campus (something I think every preacher and teacher should be required to do at least once!).
After my year on staff at Wesley, I headed north and began my M.Div studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA. It was during my first year at GCTS that I fell in love with the Hebrew Bible (Thank you Gordon Hugenberger, Doug Stuart, Jeff Niehaus, Gary Pratico and Walt Kaiser!). After two fantastic years in Boston, I transferred down to GCTS’ Charlotte campus (Thank you Leighton Ford!) and began attending Good Shepherd. During my time as a member of GS I helped develop their young adult ministry that a couple had started just before I arrived (Thank you Don and Cheryl!).
In 2004 a position at GS opened up and I was eventually hired as Pastor of Discipleship where I served until 2009. During my 5 years on staff I oversaw all of the adult Discipleship, Teaching and Small Group ministries. This was an amazing time that allowed me to continue my Biblical Studies…not in an ivory-tower academic environment, but in the day-to-day life of the local church. The classes and small groups I was blessed to lead at GS were the perfect place to learn, grow and develop my gifts and calling as a teacher (Thank you, Good Shepherd family!!).
In 2009 I felt that God was telling me it was time to step down from my position at GS and into the unknown. I started Disciple Dojo as a place where I could continue developing resources for the Church worldwide and focus on my gifts and passions in a broader context.
In 2015 I started an outreach that teaches Jiujitsu and self-defense to kids from Charlotte’s international refugee community (as well as immigrants and kids from low-income families here in the city). You can read all about our #RefugeeJitsu program HERE.
In 2017 Disciple Dojo became a full 501c3 Nonprofit organization in the State of North Carolina. We currently have 9 Board members and are focusing on reshaping and expanding the scope of this ministry. If you would like to become a financial supporter (aka. a Dojo Donor!), all donations are tax-deductible. To donate online, click the button below:
Those interested in supporting Discple Dojo via check or money order can send donations to:
Attn: Finance Director
13623 Christian Tyler Ct.
Charlotte, NC 28278
Checks should be made out to “Disciple Dojo” and include either “General Funding“, “Ministry” or “RefugeeJitsu” in the memo line, depending on which aspect of the Dojo one prefers their gift be used for.
Blessings from the Dojo,