I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is Disciples Path: The Journey. Our Groups team helped with this post.
Think with me about the last time you approached a group or gathering of people in the church where you serve. There should be, in those moments, a necessary nervousness because it is a weighty endeavor to look into the eyes of God’s people and open the Bible. But the near crushing weight of this responsibility isn’t meant to be borne alone.
To put a visual to it, imagine a church leader standing like Atlas (the Greek mythological figure) with the world balanced on his outstretched arms. Sure, the burden is great, but Atlas is strong enough to bear it. But the biblical image is not of one person bearing that weight alone. A better and more biblical image would be for the ministry leader, along with all of God’s people, all with arms outstretched alongside each other, collectively bearing the weight of discipleship.
While we might acknowledge this truth intellectually, in most churches the pastor alone bears the weight of discipleship. And sadly, many actually like it that way. It is appealing to think of ourselves as those who are strong enough to bear up under the weight of the spiritual development of our congregations. Nevertheless, we know deep within us that disciple-making is not only the charge for the pastor; it’s the commission for every Christian. We further know that there is a latent disciple-maker inside every Christ-follower just waiting to be engaged.
I would suggest, then, that three things must be in place for this weight of discipleship to be distributed from the few to the many:
1. Persevering commitment
Specific emphases come and go in the church depending on the season in which the people find themselves. But there are some emphases that should always be front of mind for a congregation. A culture of mutual discipleship must be paramount, for that’s ultimately what we’re after—not only another class or group or meeting time but an entire culture committed to the mutual shaping of each other into the image of Jesus.
2. Effective modeling
One of the keys to moving to a shared weight of discipleship is the commitment to model relational and replicable discipleship on our own. That means for many of us, we will have to do some calendar elimination in order to make room for our own specific discipleship opportunities. To be clear, this is not a preacher/congregation dynamic. Instead, it is a church leader meeting with a small group of individuals.
3. Appropriate tools
Jesus never looked at a curriculum, a book, or a video screen and said, “Go and make disciples.” That’s the job given specifically to people—real people—in the real world. So we should not make the mistake of thinking that a specific tool will do our job for us. We should, however, look for tools that are built not only for consumption by the Christian but that will simultaneously equip the Christian to make disciples.
One tool we are very excited about that’s driven by this philosophy is called Disciples Path: The Journey. It’s a year-long intentional pathway of discipleship designed to make disciples, who make disciples.
Leader, don’t bear the weight alone. Spread out the responsibility both for your own sake and the sake of your congregation.
Register here or in the form below before 11:59pm tonight, Wednesday, October 19, to win one of 3 bundles including: 10 copies of the Personal Study Guide for Disciples Path: The Journey Volume 1 and a copy of the Leader Guide. We will contact the winners on Thursday, October 20.