Have you ever wondered whether or not your church was haunted? I grew up in a pastor’s home and would often accompany my dad to the church building after hours. Sometimes he would even send me on errands to the church building from the parsonage across the street. I never liked being in the church at night by myself. There were too many dark corners and too much creaking from a settling building. No, I don’t believe in ghosts, but neither do I study at my office in the empty church building on Saturday nights.
While I know my church is not haunted, I confess that I am haunted. Something disturbed me in my very depths even before I began serving as a senior pastor. I am haunted by the mission God has given his church, the mission of making disciples. There are many things that I do on a regular basis that are important for the well-being of the church I serve: study and preparation, evangelistic conversations, leadership meetings, pastoral care, and counseling, etc. But the burden I cannot get away from is the disciple-making mission of the church.
While I believe we as pastors and leaders will answer for our words, our leadership, and our love at the judgment seat of Christ, I believe we will most certainly answer for our commitment to make disciples or our lack thereof. Jesus’ last words to his followers were to make disciples. So how do we go about strategizing our church around the mission of disciple-making?
- Make disciples personally. Not all of us can quickly or easily re-shape the design of our churches around making disciples though I believe that must be a goal. But until the reality becomes the ideal, we must adopt Jesus’ method. We must invest in others through relationships and training both formally and informally. Consider joining a group of people for lunch to discuss a book or the Scriptures. Everyone has to eat and the accountability to read or share is good for you.
- Learn all you can about disciple-making strategies. I’m not an expert in this field, but I am becoming familiar in the strategies and ideas of others. Read every book or blog you can on the topic and listen to as many sermons as you can on the subject. Why? Learning from the successes and failures of others will help formulate a plan in your mind for leading your church to make disciples.
- Invite others with you on your journey. If you get to the place where you are burdened by the mandate to make disciples, then you are probably thinking how and what do I do next? Consider inviting some key leaders into your confidence. Share your concerns and your thoughts. Ask them to pray and give you feedback. Their reticence or their support should indicate the readiness of your church for what might be needed next.
- Pray and seek God’s direction for your church context. Let me be clear: we don’t have to pray about whether we are to make disciples. Jesus already commanded us to make disciples. But regarding the specific steps for you and your church, the positives and negatives of your existing church culture, the timeliness of any changes that will be implemented, etc. Those are things you should pray about. You should involve others in small groups and corporately to join you in prayer about the process of implementing a disciple-making strategy.
- Be devoted to your divinely appointed mission. Sometimes things will move more slowly than you would like. Sometimes, you will face roadblocks and disappointments. Don’t be discouraged. God will bless what he has commanded. Be devoted to making disciples no matter the reaction of others.
I can’t tell you that everything will go smoothly if you commit to making disciples. It will not. Our enemy will oppose this strategy because he opposes God. But I can tell you that the reward of witnessing spiritual growth in the lives of others is definitely worth it.