by Bobby Harrington: Bill Hull and I have joined together to urge pastors to learn how to focus on truly making disciples.
Let me explain . . .
There is general agreement among pastors that making disciples is central to the church’s mission. It is a curious phenomenon, then, that so few pastors would say they are good at it!
A recent study of church members found that 52 percent of those who have attended church at least once in the past six months believe their church does a good job of helping members grow spiritually. The same study found that only 1 percent of pastors think they are doing a good job at helping their members grow.
That is, only 1 percent of pastors believe they’re doing well at making disciples.
What do the pastors know that church members do not? Pastors have more theological knowledge and understanding than most about Christ’s expectation for the disciple making in the church. They know their churches well and can see all the faults. They are experts on their short comings. Most clearly, they understand that distractions, conflicts, and a shortage of well-trained leaders hold their church back from what God desires for them.
Pastors understand that they are to be disciple-making leaders who create a multiplying disciple making movement, beginning with the church they serve. But, unfortunately, if you asked most pastors to raise their hand if they were sure about how to go about it, very few would raise their hand high.
Bill wrote the seminal book on this topic, The Disciple-Making Pastor, over thirty years ago to address this problem. That is why, having sold 150,000 copies, this book is still in print today! In fact, it has never been more needed than right now.
With over forty years of experience, writing more than twenty-five books, and training thousands of pastors to make disciples who actually make disciples, Bill is one of the leading experts on what it takes to be a disciple-making pastor in the world today.
Continue Reading . . .
Join Bill Hull and his special guests—Bobby Harrington, Dave Clayton, David Young, Michelle Eagle, and Ben Sobels (all proven disciple makers)—for this online seminar, “The Disciple Making Pastor.”
This seminar will lead you through an engaging process that will clarify the role of a disciple-making pastor, what disciple-making pastors really believe, the challenges they must be prepared to face today, and the critical practices of disciple-making pastors whom God uses to create disciple-making movements.
As a preview, here is what to expect in the five sessions:
Session 1. Why are Disciple Making Pastors Needed?
Pastors are to raise up everyday disciples who become disciple makers who reach the nations (Eph. 4:11-13; Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:2). But if Pastors are unclear on why they are to be leaders of disciple making communities, then confusion will be in control of the church’s activity. The Why is theological in that the gospel we believe will determine the disciples we make.
If for example our gospel is primarily about how the Christian feels, how fulfilled they are, and how the church meets their needs, there is very little chance that a consumer gospel can make any useful disciple.
The wrong kind of gospel just makes matters worse. We create disciples that are of no use to Christ and his mission. This session’s special focus is the nature of the gospel, a gospel that includes discipleship as a natural part of what it means to be saved.
The secondary issues is what is called the “high cost” of non-discipleship. Pastors have wasted much time attempting to talk congregants into upping their spiritual game. At the same time, we have taught them a non-discipleship gospel that has convinced them that discipleship itself is optional. This must be turned around, disciple making pastors are the key.
Session 2. What are Disciple Making Pastors Up against?
Opposition from the outside world against a pastor’s disciple making efforts is fierce and constant. Pastors are up against rigid religious traditions, misconceptions about discipleship, a culture that craves to be entertained, an anti-training bias in the church, a demand for immediate results, superficial knee-jerk decision making, a constant re-interpretation of things, not to mention the full frontal attacks of the spiritual forces of darkness.
All these outside influences work against a pastor. But it’s the struggles inside a pastor that ultimately determine their disciple-making destiny. Being a disciple-making pastor requires a satisfied soul. A satisfied soul empowers a pastor to be patient enough, tough enough, and committed to Jesus and His message and methods long enough for a movement of multiplication to take hold. There is a pathway through this jungle without signage, so a guide is needed
Writer Linda Stone aptly labeled our age one of “continuous partial attention.” That is, you are multitasking your way through the day, continuously devoting only partial attention to each act or person you encounter. It is the malady of modernity. We have gone from the Iron Age to the Industrial Age to the Information Age to the Age of Interruption. The anxiety associated with this addiction to superficiality is a serious threat to the making of disciples.
Cal Newport in his 2016 best seller, Deep Work, says it is rare, it is meaningful, and it is valuable. “’Deep Work’ is defined as Professional activities performed in a state of distraction free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill and are hard to replicate.” Most knowledge workers…have lost their ability to perform deep work. Dallas Willard called pastors and teachers to the nations. From a biblical world-view, spiritual knowledge is the most important kind, and pastors are custodians of that knowledge. The Apostle Paul described Christian leaders as “servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries” (Col. 1:26-27) Since distraction is a major threat to this mission, what can be done?
Session 3. What are the Goals of a Disciple-Making Pastor?
It is alarming how many church leaders, board members, and staff teams are unclear on what a disciple of Jesus actually is. They don’t have a definition of a disciple on the tip of their tongues. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for Christian leaders to gather to define a disciple and for the conversation to go on for hours!
Even more unfortunate is that these discussions often end in either a heated argument or a frustrated stalemate. What is clear is that many church leaders aren’t clear on the goal of disciple making – a Christ-like disciple.
You can’t make Christ-like disciples if you don’t know what a Christ-like disciple is. If there is one person in the church who should be equipped with a clear, biblical, and viral definition of a disciple, it’s the pastor.
Many churches have a definition of a disciple that is true – but not useful. For example, “a disciple is a follower of Jesus.” Or, “A disciple is someone learning to live and love like Jesus.” Or,” A disciple is a person on mission with Jesus.”
All of these are true, but not useful! They suffer from ambiguity; ambiguity protects us from accountability. You not only can’t measure a disciple with these definitions, you don’t have enough specificity to make a disciple, forget replication of more disciples. The goal of a disciple-making pastor is about the creation of and replication of a certain kind of person who will change their world, a Christ like disciple.
“We now have sunk to such a depth that the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent persons.” George Orwell
Session 4. What is the DNA of a Disciple Making Pastor?
Some discussion has already taken place with respect to a Disciple-Making Pastor having a satisfied soul; being the kind of emotionally stable person needed to lead a disciple making movement.
Bill likes to offer definitions of what he refers to as “the DNA” of a Disciple-Making Pastor. There are at least eight characteristics of this DNA. For example, Bill says that a Disciple-Making Pastor must be convinced that all that are called to salvation are called to discipleship – no exceptions, no excuses.
The characteristics Bill will define – this disciple making DNA – must be consistently cultivated in a pastor’s life, not only for their own spiritual health but also for the fullness of life experienced by those they disciple. After defining the eight characteristics of disciple making DNA, Bill discusses with his guests how to best cultivate them not only in our own lives but also in the lives of those we disciple.
Session 5. What is the Strategy of the Disciple Making Pastor?
If you don’t have a plan, you don’t intend to do it! A pastor’s calendar is filled with many “good” things – preparing sermons, visiting the sick, maintaining and repairing buildings, conducting memorial services, coordinating volunteers, leading staff, etc. One thing that rarely makes it onto a pastor’s calendar is discipleship. They don’t have time for it.
A huge part of the problem is the established church – what it rewards, what it ignores, and what it punishes. But the church needs pastors to make disciples, develop disciple making leaders, and create a comprehensive discipleship strategy for the church. These things take time – a lot of time. If the pastor is not spending time doing these things, you can be sure no one else is.
In this session the panel will discuss practical ways pastors can manage their time, navigate the church’s expectations, and also what pastors need to spend time doing as it relates to creating a disciple making movement among their congregations.
Pastors should be making disciples but they’re not.
The Disciple Making-Pastor Seminar …
Most don’t know how. Many pastors have never grasped why.
For Jesus, making disciples was his passion; it was also his plan for rescuing people and restoring his creation.
Just recently, Bill joined with a group of church leaders to create a fresh and contemporary recording of the disciple making pastor.
If you are a pastor or you care about how pastors can follow Jesus and make disciples, please join us for the Disciple-Making Pastor Seminar.
For King Jesus,
Bobby Harrington, Point Leader, Discipleship.org
Join us at our National Disciple Making Forum!
November 7th- 8th in Nashville, TN
““Can I Pray For You?”—Alex Absalom’s Breakthrough Disciple-Making Learning”
by Alex Absalom
“5 Principles of Discipleship from Colossians 1:28-29”
by Downline Ministries
“Family Discipleship Activity: Intentional Faith”
by D6 Family
New Podcast Episodes
S6 Episode 28: The Driver Is the Intentional Leader: Take the Baton and Pass It Forward
S6 Episode 27: The Micro Group Vehicle (3s & 4s): Creating the Hothouse Effect
S6 Episode 26: The Micro Group Vehicle (3s & 4s): Relational Ingredients for Authentic Discipleship