Posts Tagged ‘Discipleship’

More Pondering on Leadership

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

This is a repost from 2007 that fits with the post on Missional Transformation – Three Shifts.

In a recent post I asked you to ponder this:

Let’s reflect by asking the following questions: “What is the role of leadership within the body of Christ?”, “How does the modern church define leadership?”, and “How do we move from the current leadership model to an Ephesians 4 ideal?”.

What is the role of leadership within the body of Christ?

It is pretty clear from what Paul taught and from what we see in the first century church that leadership was about discipleship. A key text is in Ephesians 4 where Paul tells us that God has given the body of Christ, “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to [become mature], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13, ESV).

It is plain that Paul sees the role of these “leaders” to be that of equippers (ESV, TNIV), perfecters (KJV, Amplified), trainers (The Message, Holman). He sees them in the role of disciple makers fulfilling the commission given to them by Christ himself (Matthew 28:19-20). Because they took seriously their task of equipping the saints for the work of ministry, when a problem arose, they were able to confidently turn to the saints and have them select people who could deal with the issue. Acts 6 is a classic example.

We see that the role of leadership is discipleship – to equip, train, and perfect the saints who then become leaders able to do the work of ministry. You can visualize it as:

How does the modern church define leadership?

Unfortunately, the modern church (and maybe even the church from the time of Constantine) has define leadership in terms of a hierarchical organizational model where the pastor is the CEO with paid assistants who deal with the programs and problems. Any discipleship that occurs is done using some programmatic methodology which tends to focus on imparting information.

And where are the apostles, the prophets, and the evangelists in the leadership of the body? Why is the pastor considered the only valid leadership gift?

Is it any wonder that in the modern church so few of the saints are involved in any work of ministry?

How do we move from the current leadership model to an Ephesians 4 ideal?

Within an existing congregation full of consumer driven saints who only know the CEO leadership model, I don’t think it is easy to move to an Ephesians 4 ideal. But I do believe it is possible to make some progress over time.

The first step is to make a commitment to doing personal discipleship. Identify a small group of saints who you can begin to equip, train, and perfect. My suggestion is that you start with those who already have influence, like your elders or deacons. As they grow and mature, it is going to be much easier for you to wean yourself from some of the organizational maintenance responsibilities and their dependence on you being in such a role. They will have understanding and can support such a transition.

Don’t expect this to be an overnight transition. Expect it to take years.

Understand that making disciples is not a matter of more or correct biblical knowledge. Having classes where you impart more information is not enough. You have to move out of the classroom and get them involved in right actions. For more on this, read what Alan Hirsh has to say about acting our way into a new way of thinking.

I know most pastors by nature seek to ensure that there are no “messy situations” or conflicts within the body, but in the process of disciple making you are going to have to trust the people you are working with knowing full well that they will make mistakes. Use such situations as a training time. Don’t back away from empowering them to act and do ministry.

Finally, you need to begin the process of expanding your leadership to include the apostle, the prophet, and the evangelist. The team is incomplete without these gifted people.

Discipleship in Missional Churches

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Len over at NextReformation posted these two quotes from a July 2007 Leadership Network article titled “Authentic Discipleship in Missional Churches.”

Missional living is about spirituality before it is about strategy or congregational structure. So, the first big issue is the reclamation of authentic discipleship. Churches must rediscover spiritual formation for missional living and develop systems for encouragement and accountability of a living faith.

Becoming a missional church is about being–being conformed to the image of God, bearing His heart–before it is about doing. Therefore, leaders must connect their congregations with His heart via the Scriptures.

The first quote is good. Missional is not a strategy or congregational structure. It is very much about spiritual formation and “being.” The second quote appears to separate “being” from “doing.” This false dichotomy is one of the major errors practiced in many evangelical faith communities. Discipleship is equated with connecting to the heart of God primarily “via the Scriptures” (exclusively in many cases).

Discipleship of the bible is connecting to the heart of God both “via the Scriptures” AND by doing. It is the combination of the two that lead to spiritual formation and “being.”

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11-13 — ESV).

Notice that it is both doing and the edification (teaching) of the saints that brings about unity and maturity. Can you envision an apprentice in one of the trades only spending time in the textbook and never going out daily to practice what s/he has learned under the supervision of a journeyman?

We need to reimage discipleship in terms of BOTH loving the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength AND to love our neighbor as our self. This is what authentic discipleship in missional churches will look like.

Pondering Leadership

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

In a recent post I asked you to ponder this:

Let’s reflect by asking the following questions: “What is the role of leadership within the body of Christ?”, “How does the modern church define leadership?”, and “How do we move from the current leadership model to an Ephesians 4 ideal?”.

What is the role of leadership within the body of Christ?

It is pretty clear from what Paul taught and from what we see in the first century church that leadership was about discipleship. A key text is in Ephesians 4 where Paul tells us that God has given the body of Christ, “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to [become mature], to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13, ESV).

It is plain that Paul sees the role of these “leaders” to be that of equippers (ESV, TNIV), perfecters (KJV, Amplified), trainers (The Message, Holman). He sees them in the role of disciple makers fulfilling the commission given to them by Christ himself (Matthew 28:19-20). Because they took seriously their task of equipping the saints for the work of ministry, when a problem arose, they were able to confidently turn to the saints and have them select people who could deal with the issue. Acts 6 is a classic example.

We see that the role of leadership is discipleship – to equip, train, and perfect the saints who then become leaders able to do the work of ministry.

How does the modern church define leadership?

Unfortunately, the modern church (and maybe even the church from the time of Constantine) has define leadership in terms of a hierarchical organizational model where the pastor is the CEO with paid assistants who deal with the programs and problems. Any discipleship that occurs is done using some programmatic methodology which tends to focus on imparting information.

And where are the apostles, the prophets, and the evangelists in the leadership of the body? Why is the pastor considered the only valid leadership gift?

Is it any wonder that in the modern church so few of the saints are involved in any work of ministry?

How do we move from the current leadership model to an Ephesians 4 ideal?

Within an existing congregation full of consumer driven saints who only know the CEO leadership model, I don’t think it is easy to move to an Ephesians 4 ideal. But I do believe it is possible to make some progress over time.

The first step is to make a commitment to doing personal discipleship. Identify a small group of saints who you can begin to equip, train, and perfect. My suggestion is that you start with those who already have influence, like your elders or deacons. As they grow and mature, it is going to be much easier for you to wean yourself from some of the organizational maintenance responsibilities and their dependence on you being in such a role. They will have understanding and can support such a transition.

Don’t expect this to be an overnight transition. Expect it to take years.

Understand that making disciples is not a matter of more or correct biblical knowledge. Having classes where you impart more information is not enough. You have to move out of the classroom and get them involved in right actions. For more on this, read what Alan Hirsh has to say about acting our way into a new way of thinking.

I know most pastors by nature seek to ensure that there are no “messy situations” or conflicts within the body, but in the process of disciple making you are going to have to trust the people you are working with knowing full well that they will make mistakes. Use such situations as a training time. Don’t back away from empowering them to act and do ministry.

Finally, you need to begin the process of expanding your leadership to include the apostle, the prophet, and the evangelist. The team is incomplete without these gifted people.