I love history. I love it because it teaches us so much about our current state and how to move forward. Let’s take a quick look at the explosion of the early church.
At the time of Jesus’s crucifixion, there were 120 believers (Acts 1:14–15). The book of Acts is a record of how Acts 1:8 became reality in the first 40 years of the church’s existence. At the close of Acts, disciples had been made and churches established from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria (Acts 1:8) and then throughout Asia Minor into Macedonia, Greece, and across the Adrian Sea even to Rome. Sociologist Rodney Starks said the number of Christians grew to about six million by AD 300 (before Constantine).1 The first 12 disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit and commissioned by Jesus, transformed the whole world. The question for us is this: Why doesn’t that seem to match up with our current state of the church?
Daniel Im said, “Churches that multiply understand, that multiplication begins with discipleship.” When a church fosters a culture of Christian discipleship and growth (2 Tim. 2:2) For a church that multiplies is unstoppable.
Today, people are an audience rather than an army (Eph. 4:12). The Great Commission is crucial not only for the commitment to grow but to multiply as well. But how does a church grow without development and discipleship?
Here are few thought to be considered
Push-Back on a Biblical Model
So, our church hires pastors to not do ministry? Let me get this straight. We are going to pay pastors to train us to do their jobs? Yes, because it is biblical. We are all ministers, and we have a role to play in the kingdom. Look at the graphic below from Designed to Lead by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck.3
The Typical Approach
Pastors – > Minister – > People
The system makes sense, really. People come to church and generously give money. So as the church grows, more money can be given to compensate ministers. But if the church is not careful, it can subtly be taught that it is paying people to do ministry. We are to prepare, not perform.
The Biblical Model
Pastors – > Prepare – > People – > Minister – > Each Other
Unlike the typical model that fosters and develops consumers and moochers, the biblical model develops more participants and contributors. The ministry is for all who are called to share in Christ’s life, but the pastorate is for those who possess the peculiar gift of being able to help other men and women practice any ministry to which they are called.
Yes, it is easier and more comfortable to rely on pastors to do the ministry. And it takes time to build people, especially if that has not been the culture and practice of the church. Change is hard. People prefer what they have observed and known. As the old saying goes, better caught than taught. So, in many churches, the cycle continues.
Does your church have an intentional plan? Or does that happen haphazardly?
A culture of discipleship multiplies the gifts and ministries of the entire church body, not just the pastor or a few select leaders. By this method, we witness a cycle of reproduction to the ends of the earth to the end of time. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the gospel, chances are you are in a maintenance mode rather than a multiplication mode.
Your success as a disciple of Christ is not something you do; it is someone you disciple to also become a disciple-maker. Effective ministry is not gauged by how many ministries we execute but how well we equip others to partake in ministry.
The ultimate goal of discipleship does not end with training leaders but with training leaders who are multiplying faithful followers of Christ. True success in our lives as disciples is growing those we are discipling.
Let us not grow weary of doing good (Gal. 6:9). Be vigilant to train, equip, and build leaders for the sake of God’s glory. Through God’s grace and our guidance, they may witness God do more than we could ever imagine.