What is the main job of a pastor or Christian leader? Or of anyone with ministry gifts and experience? Is it to prepare quality sermons that inspire and instruct drawing people to attend church services? You may believe their primary job is to provide pastoral care to those who are sick and in hospital. Or perhaps it is to oversee the staff team of the church. According to the book of Ephesians, none of these are the primary task of those with ministerial gifts and responsibilities. Our most important responsibility is to train others to do what we do.
If you are an apostle/pioneer, you need to train and mentor other apostles. If you have the gift of teaching, how can you empower others to also teach and train? If you are a leader, what other leaders can you develop and raise up?
Often, those in full-time ministry feel their job is to do the ministry themselves. After all, that is what we are getting paid for, right? Or if you are a missionary volunteer, you may think- that is what people support me to do. This is not the right mindset if we want to see the multiplication of disciples.
Old Mindset: Full-time professionals are the primary church planters, disciple-makers, and ministers.
New Mindset: As leaders, our job is to disciple disciple-makers and train trainers.
Read my friend Fred’s story of how a change of mindset in this area took their church planting work from addition to multiplication. Eventually, it led to the release of a new movement.
My wife and I did our missions training in 1996 and went to the field to “plant churches”. We worked with a faithful local couple and in 2003 we were instrumental in planting a church and children’s work. It was based around a building. There was no multiplication and we knew nothing of DMM/CPM back then. Ministry was limited by the building we were able to rent.
In 2008 we re-started with a new strategy in a new place. By envisioning and working with a near insider who has an apostolic gift we quickly won many believers. These were put into small groups based on relationship and location. After getting to about 300 believers we came to the end of ourselves. There were so many “pastoral” needs across a very wide area.
When we had a series of leadership issues among the insider believers, we weren’t able to overcome the problems. In the end, the whole thing collapsed.
After evaluation, we decided to make another fresh start in new locations (working among the same people group). We attended a short two-week training on DMMs. It proved invaluable during this fresh start.
Once again, we experienced miracles as God brought many to faith including some important Persons of Peace. One big difference this time is that we no longer ran around doing “pastoral” work. Instead, our team concentrated on training and coaching leaders of small gatherings. We particularly focused on those leading streams (groups that were multiplying groups). We trained them to disciple the believers in their locality.
A three-part meeting approach in the disciple-making groups was especially useful. This style can also be used during evangelism or discipleship, or even pre-evangelism. The first part of the meeting is about hearing people’s stories. They share how they got on with the previous meeting’s application and praying for one another. Any “success” of applying God’s word is celebrated.
The second part is about teaching/training. The third part is the application and sending. It also includes prayer related to multiplication.
We also learned that we did not need to be the ones who baptize the believers. We didn’t even need to be known by them. By empowering and training others to lead, the total number of believers from the latest “fresh start” within a few years exceeded 1,500.
What questions does Fred’s example bring to mind? In what ways can you relate to his story? What could you apply to your situation?
No More “Sage on the Stage”
The New Testament is clear. The role of those in ministerial roles and with these gifts is to train and equip others. It’s not to become the “sage on the stage” or the “performer on the platform.” That is not a Kingdom mindset, nor does it lead to the rapid multiplication of disciples.
Training others doesn’t mean running a three month school or even a one hour class. It is a mindset shift. It has to do with identifying potential people, then helping them develop skills and capacity.
Start small. Start simple. Choose a few people to train and mentor. You train them and they train others (2 Tim. 2:2). Take them with you to watch and observe. Then let them do it with you. Next let them do it and you watch. Lastly send them with your blessing to do it alone, but report back. Don’t forget, they must then repeat that process with others.
For example, if you have the gift of evangelism, train three people to do what you do. If you have a pastoral gift, take others with you to pray for the sick and minister to them in the hospital. Always look for others to “take along” and develop. That was what Jesus did. His disciples were always beside him, learning and growing by observing and participating in His ministry.
Who can you take steps to equip and train this week? How can you become a trainer of trainers?
Share in the comments below or on the DMMs Frontier Missions Facebook group.
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