Helping Others Follow Jesus Is a Ministry Leader's One Thing
One thing. Ministry leaders believe it. Ministry leaders struggle to live it.
On one side: helping others follow Jesus. On the other: fullfilling the daily whirlwind of ministry activity.
Two opposing commitments. Stuck in the middle. It doesn't have to be this way.
As a ministry leader your purpose is not complex. And God certainly has not called you to choose between these two opposing purposes. There is only one purpose. God's dream for your leadership is stunningly simple. In your going...make disciples...baptizing and teaching them to obey Jesus' teaching. Show them how to follow Jesus. This is THE aligning principle of any Christ-centered, Jesus-following ministry.
Jesus is clear. Simple and clear does not mean easy, however. And, today it is a profound challenge. Ed Stetzer uses the term "discipleship deficit" to describe this challenge. Instead of alignment under the ONE purpose, we have repeatedly chosen the whirlwind and pitted the two sides against each other.
Addressing this deficit is our greatest leadership challenge.
And, our greatest opportunity.
What if helping others follow Jesus is the dream AND the operating principle for all the daily ministry activities?
Many of us feel helpless in the whirlwind. What's a leader to do?
Adding the challenging call of helping others follow Jesus to an already overextended and weighty agenda seems impossible. So, we push aside the dream in God's heart and do our best to survive the whirlwind. In our either-or thiniking we say, "I'd love to devote myself to encouraging others in their journey with Jesus, but, there just isn't enough time. I can't add one more thing."
One more thing? Really? Addition actually leads to resistance of the ONE thing.
I would like to offer some relief.
Our leadership resistance to the discipleship deficit is destructive and unnecessary. Let's stop pitting these two commitments against each other and think of creative solutions to bridge them together. Helping others follow Jesus AND fullfilling the daily whirlwind of ministry activity.
We address the deficit not by adding disciple-making to our busy calendars, but by aligning the whirlwind of ministry activities under the ONE purpose of disciple-making.
Below are 3 tweaks I made in exisitng ministry commitments. As a part of my whirlwind they were obligations that needed frequent attention. With very little effort, and a little creative thought each responsibility became another opportunity to helpo someone learn how to follow Jesus.
Interested? Read on.
Tweak 1: Identify One Apprentice
As a ministry leader you meet with other leaders in your ministry all the time. Pick one who you sense is open and interested in living out some aspect of following Jesus with your encouragement and support. Here are some possibilities. They may want to discover how to:
- pray with more confidence
- prayer walk
- incorporate Scripture into their prayers (pray the Scriptures)
- read the Bible
- incorporate a weekly sabbath into their calendar
Instead of simply meeting to discuss the whirwind of ministry activity, spend some time within that exisitng meeting encouraging one another in your Jesus-following.
Tweak 2: Incorporate One Assignment
Preaching and teaching are important to the life of any ministry. We preachers and teachers long to see lives transformed by our efforts in this arena. Yet, many of us are underutilyzing these weekly opportunities. Most tend to teach and preach for information not transformation. In this tweak I'd like you to make a subtle yet significant change in your thinking: from teaching to training.
Every time you lead, teach, facilitate, preach, present is an opportunity to give an assignment. Based on your content, give the participant something to take home, to remember, to do, to write, to reflect on. Every time. Put something in their hands. Inscribe an image in their minds. Send them out to put something into action. Instruct them to share a thought, or write down an insight that they are leaving with. Over time your listeners will become doers. Over time readers and receivers will become applyers and reproducers.
Tweak 3: Illustrate One Aspect
How exactly do YOU follow Jesus?HOW do you:
- read the Scriptures
- study the Bible
- discern God's will
- write a devotion
In another blog post I used a simple 3 step formula that will help you illustrate how you follow Jesus to another person. It will also help that other person articulate how they follow Jesus to someone else. Cool, huh?