And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20).
Determined to respond to the biblical call to make disciples, we want to be very purposeful in encouraging people in their Christian lives—growing people who are disciple-making disciples of Christ. This will require a new mind-shift . . .
. . . from running programs to building people.
Rather than considering existing programs thinking about how they can be manned, maintained and improved, we start with the people in the church with no particular program in mind. We consider, who are these people God has given, how we might help them grow in Christian maturity, and what form their gifts and opportunities might take.
. . . from running events to training people.
Concentrating on training increases the number of gospel communicators (in both personal conversations and public settings) and their effectiveness. Identifying and equipping more believers multiplies the number, variety, and effectiveness of sharing opportunities. The more we train people in evangelism, the more unbelievers will participate in our outreach efforts.
. . . from using people to growing people.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of our ministries, but failing to develop their Christian life and ministry potential may result in short-circuited service, frustration, and burnout. Ministry flows from Christian growth, not the other way around. Caring for people and helping them flourish in the knowledge and love of Christ is a higher priority than keeping programs running.
. . . from filling gaps to training new people.
Considering each person as a gift from God and equipping him accordingly will open up new areas of ministry centered on the particular gifts and opportunities of the individual believer. Instead of filling the gap, we want to be concerned about what ministry this member could exercise and how we should equip, train, and support him to do so.
. . . from solving problems to helping people progress.
People’s problems are significant but they are not the center of their Christian lives. People need to be moving forward in holy living and the knowledge of God, whether they are facing difficulties or not. Proactive rather than reactive ministry will focus time and energy on training people and growing new work, increasing the overall effectiveness of their endeavors.
. . . from clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership.
The benefits of team ministry are so many it is well worth freeing up the pastor to “equip the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).
. . . from focusing on church polity to forging ministry partnerships.
Building ministry partnerships challenges our leaders to be active trainers and equippers, out of the strength and experience of their own Christian walk, before they are given responsibility for oversight. These are the ones who are setting the pace, engaging others with the Word of God, being an example, and sharing Christ with their neighbors.
. . . from relying on training institutions to establishing local training.
Providing the personal touch to equipping in character, conviction, and the skills required for ministry can only take place amongst the body of Christ. On-the-job training is most effectively accomplished in church life. As necessary as theological and academic training are, ministry apprenticeship is the place where real hands-on experience is acquired.
. . . from focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for long-term expansion.
Everyone understands how easily urgent things can crowd out important things. But if we know that training leaders will help sustain and grow our ministries, then exerting the energy needed to maintain this precedence will be worth the effort, and the short-term pressures we face now will become less immediate and may eventually disappear.
. . . from engaging in management to engaging in ministry.
Administrative tasks will always be with us, but the time caught up in management ought not to weaken the ministry of teaching and training. Others need to be trained to share the load of this kind of work. Which is better: one person managing it all or one person training three or four others to take on these responsibilities?
. . . from seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth.
Time and investment are valuable commodities, but these belong to the Lord, not us. There will be times we train people only to see them move on to other ministries. This is to be expected. At times we need to be prepared to be exporters rather than hoarders of trained individuals, increasing the gospel ministry as the Lord leads.