Staying focused as Disciple makers

What is the number one enemy you will face as you pursue the release of a Disciple Making Movement among the unreached?  One would imagine that it would be intense spiritual warfare, keeping a visa platform, persecution, or some other kind of external challenge.  Those are real and they are there to be sure.  In my opinion, however, the greatest obstacle for those pursuing the release of a movement,  is the inability to stay focused on what is most important.  The tendency to become distracted doing many good things without doing what iblack-and-white-1845826_1280s most important is typical of those who hope to see movements but don’t.

Busyness is a major enemy in our lives.  We can easily get so busy that we don’t have time to pray, to listen to God, to share good news with the Lost, or to adequately spend time with those who are expressing interest in coming to faith.  These things usually happen in the early stages of our efforts to start a movement.  When we don’t see things “take off” as fast as we had hoped, we allow ourselves to get involved in other ministry tasks that give us a bit of a sense of fulfillment.  Teaching here or there, doing emails, making a video for a church about what we do, attending a seminar or conference someone invited us to…suddenly we realize we have had little time for the task of disciple making.

Later, when (and if) we do have some disciples and the first church gets going, it is again easy to become busy with things related to that church’s programs rather than continuing to pursue relationships with the Lost, or to invest in quality disciple making.  We make the mistake of thinking that a weekly meeting of a few hours will make quality disciples. We fail to truly invest our lives in those God has given us whether it be in detailed prayer for them, or in developing deep relationships.

One of my favorite Old Testament Bible Heros is Nehemiah.  In tnature-1984314_1280he sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, messengers come asking Nehemiah to attend a meeting with Sanballat and Geshem.  Instead of agreeing he says,

“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3)

Nehemiah is completely focused on his God given task.  He is not going to stop his work to go and resolve a conflict, listen to his enemies, or attend a meeting.  He knows how to say a clear “no.” He continues to focus on what is most important.  We need to do the same.

How hard is it for you to stay focused on what is really important?  Do you clearly know in your own mind what is most important in light of your goal to see a movement of disciples?

In a recent training I asked the participants to make a list of everything they had done in the last week that took more than an hour of their time.  After they had listed at least 15 things, I asked them to circle which of those things directly related to making disciples among the unreached.  It was eye opening for many of them to see how little time they actually devoted to the task they said was their primary vision.  We all would benefit from a similar exercise from time to time.

Feeling convicted?  I truly hope you don’t feel condemned.  Its very human to get distracted and not at all uncommon! Instead of feeling bad, look carefully at where you are at. Recommit yourself to stay focused on your true calling as a discipler and messenger of the good news.  Be willing like Nehemiah to say no to some things so you can say yes to what is really important.

The unreached wait to hear your message.  New disciples wait to be encouraged, trained and mentored.  Let’s get busy doing the most important things that lead to the release of movements.

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You are a Trainer of Trainers – a Disciple maker!

In every missions conference we talk about the Great Commission. It is found several places in the gospels but most often referenced from Matthew 28.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”– Matt. 28:18-20 NIV

This verse speaks of actions we all can be involved in. It tells us to; 1) Go, 2) make disciples of all nations 3) baptize them and 4) teach them to obey.

Ying Kai and Steve Smith, authors of the book, T4T A Discipleship Re-Revolution,  speak of how we are Trainers of Trainers.  Ying uses the word trainer for a disciple maker.  Do you see yourself as a Trainer of Trainers? For many years I saw myself as a teacher.  What I didn’t see was that I was to train the people I taught until they could train others!  Instead of seeing myself as a teacher, passing on knowledge and information, I began to see myself as a trainer and those who were learning from me as those who in turn would immediately train others. I am a Trainer of Trainers- A Disciple Maker.

Trainer tag

I train one person to follow Jesus and obey His commands, they go and train another, who trains another.  In this way the Kingdom multiplies and grows.

Making disciples of Jesus (trainers of trainers) is a crucial task not only for pastors, spiritual leaders and missionaries.  This is the task of every believer. This is the task of everyone who is a disciple of Christ.   As basic as it seems, why do so few get involved directly in disciple making?  Why don’t we see ourselves as trainers of others?

We have settled for a model far short of what Jesus taught.  Why?  There are numerous answers to this question.  We could blame anyone from Constantine to today’s clergy for not placing more emphasis on empowering local believers to do the work of the ministry.  Blaming them would serve no real purpose, though sometimes it can be helpful to understanding the process that led us to the situation the church is in today.

Instead of analyzing the history or blaming various people, it is time for all who follow Christ to wake up to their identity and to their task.  We are disciples.  Disciples train other disciples.  It’s natural. It’s normal.  It requires no special skills or special qualifications.  We just need to obey Jesus’ command, and begin to do it.

Who are you training to obey Christ?  Who are they training?  Are you a trainer of trainers? A disciple who makes disciples?  If not, you can be!  Embrace that identity today.

You are a Royal Priest

Understanding who we are has a huge impact on what we end up doing in our lives.  What we believe dramatically impacts how we behave.  In the last blog I talked about who we are as people God has chosen to bear much fruit, fruit that will remain.  We are the Chosen Ones.  Today I want to focus on another aspect of our identity, who we are as royal priests of God.

1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- NIV

It’s important to understand what a major shift Jesus brought about when he went to the cross and rose again.  He destroyed the old system of Levitical priesthood and established a new system where all who followed him would be royal priests. In the new covenant you are not physically born into priesthood as the Levites were.  Instead you are spiritually born into this priesthood when you receive Jesus into your life and are born again.

Not only are we priests, we are royal priests!  I’ve had the privilege of visiting Thailand crown-1701934_640often, a land that honors and loves their king.  In the Thai language, there is even a whole different way of speaking when you address a member of the royal family.  The royals receive great respect and carry much influence and authority.  It’s been a good picture for me of what this verse might mean when it calls us a “royal priesthood.”  This speaks of a place of favor, privilege and authority as children of the King of Kings.  I am a member of the royal family.  That means I carry great authority in the spiritual realm.  I’m not a nobody, I’m a royal priest. So are you if you are following Jesus as Lord!

What does this practically mean for us as we think about pursuing disciple making movements?  Its a very big deal!  It means that there is nothing related to spiritual work that we can not do.  We are given authority by God to establish His kingdom, to make disciples and to do the work of God as his representatives here on earth.

While we know this in our heads, often our behavior sadly reflects an old covenantsupreme-patriarch-463291_640 belief system.  Our worldview is deeply influenced by Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam or whatever system we have come out of…even traditional Christianity.  In those religious systems, only special people are qualified to do spiritual tasks and work.  Only Levites, or Brahmins, or monks, or imams, pastors or priests are to do the spiritual work of the ministry.  Jesus came to abolish that old covenant and bring in something new.  So why are we so quick to go back to the old?

If we want to see rapidly multiplying Disciple Making Movements, we must embrace who we are as royal priests and we must realize that every follower of Jesus has been empowered and commissioned by Christ himself to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them to obey all that He commanded.

Who gave us this authority?  Jesus himself gave it in the Great Commission.  Without embracing and truly living out the priesthood of all believers, we will only see limited multiplication of disciples among the unreached (or anywhere).

Declare it with me today.  I am a royal priest of God.  He has appointed and commissioned me to represent him on this earth.  Every work of spiritual service, and especially the task of making disciples is mine to do.  The people I lead to Christ are also given authority by Jesus to make more disciples freely and to serve as royal priests.

Let’s start disciple making movements- groups of royal priests who make more royal priests!