We need to be good organizers as leaders and take responsibility to grow healthy churches, but we can’t let the tasks of organization overshadow our responsibility to make disciples. We can’t let tasks become more important than the people. The tasks need to get done, but we are in the business of discipling people in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, every task and responsibility must help to advance this disciple-making mandate.
As pastors, how can we keep discipleship as a priority despite the need to get things done?
1 – Build Transparent Relationships
As leaders, we must build relationships with those we are discipling. Jesus modeled this perfectly and demonstrated this throughout the Gospels through his relationships with his disciples.
As leaders, we must be transparent toward those we are discipling, letting them know we were once where they are now. We also need to share that we are not leaders deserving to be put up on a pedestal but that we are leaders among equals.
Even though we are leaders, we must grow in our spiritual development, just as we expect from our people. This requires transparency. We must let them know we have the same kinds of struggles. We must let them know we are living the same Romans 7 experience that they are. They need to know that, sometimes, we do things that we wish we hadn’t done.
People need to see we are real and we are on the same journey of discipleship they are on. When they see that, we will have the opportunity to influence them.
2 – Ask Powerful Questions
Not only do we need to provide answers for the people around us, we need to help them think for themselves.
Jesus asked questions on a regular basis that forced other people to stop, reflect, and think on their own. Through asking questions, he helped them to arrive at their own conclusions.
Sometimes, our questions will cause people to think about their own character. Other times, they will cause people to think about the character of God. When we ask powerful questions, they facilitate growth opportunities for the people we are discipling.
3 – Tell Amazing Stories
Stories help people to understand how faithful God has been, not only in our lives, but in the church. When people can see how amazing God is and how he has come through in amazing ways, they become drawn to him.
Our testimonies of God’s faithfulness will expand their faith, which is what we are trying to do in discipleship.
4 – Present Powerful Principles
To keep disciple-making as a priority, we must present powerful principles. When there is an opportunity to teach a scriptural lesson or principle in response to a real-life situation, we must seize the opportunity. This will help our people to understand why we react the way we do. They will begin to understand why we face conflict in a biblical way. They will understand why we pray the way we pray. They will understand why we wait and why we move forward in certain leadership decisions.
When we can present powerful scriptural principles to people, and they can learn where to apply those principles in their lives, we are expanding discipleship at our church.
When church leaders tell me that they are struggling to develop leaders in their churches, I often say, “You do not have a leadership problem; you have a discipleship problem.”
People who are being discipled will turn into leaders. The 12 Disciples proved that. After Jesus had discipled them, they had turned the world upside down by Acts Chapter 17. Nobody anticipated they would become the leaders they became. Because Jesus poured into them as disciples, they became the leaders the world needed.
Who in your church will someday be the leader your church needs because you stopped and discipled them first?