“What is the primary reason the Great Commission task is not yet finished?” I asked this question to a group of students this week. Many different answers surfaced. None of them matched my own. I believe the main reason we haven’t yet made disciples of all nations is related to the priesthood of all believers. In elevating professional pastors, we have somehow overshadowed a powerful truth. Jesus died to make everyone a priest of God. There are no more high and low castes. Everyone who follows Jesus is fully empowered to do the work of the Kingdom. Disciple-making Movements embrace this.
I am motivated by a deep commitment to a New Testament understanding of the priesthood of all Jesus-followers. While I honor and respect spiritual leadership, in DMMs, every believer is empowered. Without this being taught, and also practiced, we will not complete the Great Commission. I am passionate about seeing a shift in the mindset of the Church worldwide regarding this concept. DMMs make room for this.
Everyone’s Giftings Used
I’m not against traditional churches. I have attended many and been blessed. Some of our supporting churches are large bodies of believers. I remember a time though when I sat in one of these churches. My eyes glanced around.
On my right side, I saw one of my Bible college professors, a wonderful teacher of God’s Word. I looked in front of me and saw other highly gifted men and women. Sitting in pews…under-utilized. Only paid professionals did the work of the ministry there.
The church encouraged service. But what did that mean? It meant changing diapers in the nursery (nothing wrong with that!). It meant showing up to help with a construction project. It didn’t mean leading people to Christ and then being responsible to pastor, train and disciple them until they could disciple others. That was the job of the paid professionals.
Looking around a bit more, I saw a few new believers. Not many, but some. How long it will take them to grow to maturity? If they were leading friends to Christ, and discipling them, how much faster they would grow! Instead of just seeing a handful come forward or raise hands, we could see thousands come to Christ. If the people in this church were trained to make disciples, the impact could be huge!
Somehow though, they’d gotten stuck in a performance mentality about ministry. It was for the highly trained, skilled and professional. The priesthood of all, was a concept they believed but didn’t practice.
“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”1 Pet. 2:5 NIV
Practice and Beliefs
When our beliefs don’t match our practices, we have to re-examine our beliefs.
Jesus died on the cross and the curtain was torn. A pathway into the Presence of God was made for us through His death. No longer is that place of access to His love, power, glory, anointing, and presence only for priests.
When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ disciples in Jerusalem, they went out as He said they would. They started in Jerusalem, then went to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Until they didn’t.
Constantine instituted the clerical system. It brought government into the church instead of organic growth. It brought order, structure, and systems. Unfortunately, it also led to halted growth. It stopped the organic missional spread of ordinary disciples making disciples.
Buildings were built. Pulpits erected.
Was this ever God’s plan for His body? I somehow doubt it.
I’m not saying these things are evil. I just believe that DMMs represent a more authentic expression of the church as God intended. Disciples making disciples. Every believer empowered and active in doing the work of the ministry, in using their spiritual gifts.
Biblical Motivations Run Deep
While wanting to see greater fruit and good results may get you started in pursuing a Disciple Making Movement, this motivation won’t last. It won’t carry you through the tough times, the spiritual warfare, the stops and starts of launching a movement.
When our motivation is based on our understanding of the Word of God, we stand on solid rock.
Does your heart long to see every believer equipped and empowered? Do you read the New Testament and wonder why in most churches so few use their spiritual gifts? Why the ministry is apparently only for professionals when the Book of Acts seems so different from that?
Being convinced that DMMs fulfill part of what Jesus died to make possible will keep you going. It will help you push through the persecution and misunderstandings with humility and faith.
Are there other biblical foundations that motivate you to pursue DMMs? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below or on the DMMs Facebook Group.