By Trip Lee
What is God’s plan to train and equip leaders?
Today, we’re surrounded with temptation to compromise and preach false doctrines. Training is vitally needed. We try to be creative in our training and discipling, but we can lean on what God’s been calling us to for 2,000 years. It’s simple. The best way to develop leaders who faithfully serve God’s world is to make disciples who love God’s Word. The word is where meaningful discipleship starts.
What is discipleship?
It starts with showing people the beauty of faith in Jesus and the reality that we’re not meant to have this faith on our own. We’re meant to help one another follow Him. We follow Jesus, and we help others follow Jesus. This is discipleship.
It’s not an individual activity but like a team sport. We need people practicing together to reach a common goal. Everyone plays a role toward the goal of Christlikeness, maturity, and growth. This is corporate growth as each individual member doesn’t isolate and amputate themself from the body but helps each part understand its function.
If we’re going to be a healthy church, everybody has to be involved in discipling because the pastor isn’t meant to do it all. God calls us to teach one another because this is the way the church builds itself up.
The role of the people is not to show up, critique the pastor, and go home. We are to speak the truth in love into each other’s situations as we are spending time in the truth of the word. We are to offer correction, comfort, advice, and understanding in our contexts, even if we do not have a gift to do so in pastoral capacities.
We can speak the truth to each other wrongly. Truth spoken in love is gracious. It’s timley. It’s caring. Sometimes, it also looks really ordinary.
Yes, our favorite pastors can deliver compelling messages and loved counselors can have deep insight. Yet, the people who live day to day with us often have the perspective we need. When we look past others God has provided in our lives in search of something special, we’ve missed the mark and are missing out on some things God has for us.
We can speak truth into others’ lives in the day to day. It’s a form of discipling, and it’s mutual. In our churches, we pray “God, use me mightily to impact people’s lives.” All the while, we have hundreds of conversations a week with the opportunity to speak the truth in love, but we are distracted, looking for something more grand.
The very basic action God calls us, as the people, to take is speaking the truth in love into one another’s lives.
Likewise, God very basically calls us as pastors to equip the church to be truth speakers. Otherwise, we will burn out if we try to do it all ourselves.
Instead of equipping people, we often hinder them. We teach the Bible, but we don’t teach people how to understand the Bible themselves. When they listen to your preaching, they are learning how they’re supposed to interact with God’s Word. Are we teaching them how to understand, digest, and keep discussing, growing, and teaching among themselves?
You have authority and power given by God within the local church. You act as lungs to pump the oxygen of God’s Word to the different parts of the body so that each part can function properly. We don’t have the capacity to reach all parts completely. As pastors, we want to facilitate the teaching of God’s Word and empower others to catch the message and carry the oxygen on to other parts of the body by teaching each other. We want to facilitate a love of God’s Word and a love of passing on the word to one another.
No matter our place in the church, we have the calling to be mature disciples following Jesus and sharing the oxygen of God’s Word as he develops more mature disciples. Discipleship means bearing the calling to lift up the word of God. That’s the only way hearts are really changed and sinners are able to follow Jesus.
Adapted from Pipeline 2016: Developing Your Leadership Pipeline. To learn more about how to lead in discipleship, check out our free Ministry Grid courses Introduction to Leadership Pipeline and Leadership Pipeline Competency Overview.
Trip Lee is an award winning music artist, author, pastor, and speaker.