This series of articles explores thirteen major methods that are effective for making disciples. Keep in mind that in a ubiquitous (all encompassing, everywhere present) disciple-making process, virtually each method is not only encouraged but is planned into the church ministries. Here is a list including links to articles that have been completed in the series:
- Simple Discipleship: A Comprehensive Disciple-Making Plan- The Simple Discipleship Virtual Book Tour- (updated) originally posted in 2010
- DISCIPLESHIP BEST PRACTICES: 13 Ways to Make Disciples
1. Passive Discipleship: the least effective method but essential to support other methods
2. Private Discipleship: the Christian and the Holy Spirit (most effective but under used)
3. Presence Discipleship: In times of crisis the disciple invests time, assistance, and prayer.
4. Participation or Proximity Discipleship: applies to all areas but most of all to giving
5. Projected Discipleship: Actively but humbly projecting a Christian example of living Christ’s teachings.
7. Program Discipleship: Pre-packaged materials delivered in large or small groups.
8. Personal Discipleship: One-on-one discipleship (very effective but seldom used)
9. Peer Group Discipleship: Bible study and Sunday School
10. Practical Discipleship: Hands on service, evangelism, and missional projects
11. Proficiency Discipleship: Leadership Development
12. Proclamation Discipleship: Evangelism and preaching to unchurched
13. Process Discipleship: All of the above delivered in a systematic way
Evaluate how you and your church are doing in the 13 methods of discipleship: Copy of 13 Ways to Make Disciples_Evaluation
This article in the “Discipleship Best Practices” series presents the greatest challenge as there are a myriad of articles, blogs, and books on the subject of “leadership.” Unfortunately, there is not an equal focus on leadership development as related to discipleship. Perhaps we are looking for that quick-fix, magic button, next big thing, simple and easy way of developing leaders. Sorry…you will not find it here. As with discipleship, developing leaders is a process and it takes time. I marvel that few church leaders and churches even have any kind of real leadership development process. I have written on the subject before in the articles IMPROVING YOUR CHURCH’S CULTURE: 11- Leadership Training and #11 The Twelve Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Church: What is our leadership development process?
For this article I will build on the cited articles and I want to challenge readers who are responsible for the design of leadership training to include what I consider to be the soil of great Christian leaders—the mind of a leader and the humility of a leader.
WE NEED PROFICIENCY DISCIPLESHIP
What is “proficiency discipleship?” “Proficiency” is defined as “advancement in knowledge or skill.” For the purpose of this article and series the term will apply to leadership development of Christians.
The following story was quite common before the internet and distance education but is still a challenge as few churches offer internships or leadership development opportunities:
In the 1980s I knew the Lord wanted me to someday serve as a pastor. I was working toward a degree so I could later go to seminary but I wanted to get started with hands on ministry. The church where I attended offered no real training other than as a Bible study teacher for which I had a large following. My pastor was somewhat paranoid of other preachers and teachers in the church and rarely gave us any opportunities to do anything outside of our normal service. I made appointments with pastors of several other churches to discuss opportunities for ministry training and experienced rejection at worst and indifference at best. I found it necessary to essentially settle for waiting until going to seminary before getting some hands on training other than teaching Bible study.
For the purpose of this article we are not just speaking of those who may become pastors but also of Christians who will go on to serve as deacons, elders, and teachers in the local church. What qualities should they possess and what may a church do to develop their yearning desire to serve into ministry proficiency?
Church leaders need to develop or at least provide for the leadership development of potential and new leaders in the church. Training should include hands-on supervised ministry in the church. I particularly like the Unlimited Partnerships model of providing peer group leadership training for ministry while the leader is actively serving. I also like the organization Truth@Work as they have Christian leadership coaches who develop proficiency discipleship programs for leaders in the workplace. Churches are far behind when it comes to proficiency discipleship. Take the step and start Christian coaching ministries and leadership development ministries in your church and community. The best proficiency discipleship programs will include modules using each of the thirteen ways to make disciples.
PROFICIENCY DISCIPLESHIP CULTIVATES CHARACTER
In my book Simple Discipleship: How to Make Disciples in the 21st Century I discussed a leadership training model that merges the principles of Simple Discipleship and Ken Blanchard’s leadership training model discussed in his book Lead Like Jesus. Here is a verbal description that corresponds with the Simple Discipleship visual shown in this article:
- WORSHIP—Heart- “What do I value?” (Self-leadership effectiveness)
- WORD—Head- “What do I believe?” (One-on-one leadership effectiveness)
- MINISTRY—Hands- “What do I do?” (Team leadership effectiveness)
- MISSIONS—Habits- “What do people say?” (Community Leadership effectiveness)
Note the four points above and the progressive spiritual growth that is illustrated as one lives the Christian life in relationship to self, in personal individual relationships, to a small group or team, and to the community outside the church. This is consistent with the principles of 1 Timothy 3:7 which says, “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (NKJV)
Leadership skills do not develop in a vacuum but are cultivated and nurtured as one lives the Christian life around the cross daily. “Progressive spiritual maturity develops as one grows from WORSHIP to WORD to MINISTRY, and to MISSIONS” (Simple Discipleship, 102). Some spiritual maturity elements such as humility are cultivated in the WORSHIP domain as one gives heart-felt participation in private and public worship. Humility is the result of seeing oneself in the presence of God. An Isaiah 6 experience helps one put self and God in the proper perspective. Humility may grow over a period of time and continued connection with God through living life around the cross, i.e. WORSHIP, WORD, MINISTRY, and MISSIONS. Humility matures in the MINISTRY domain as one eagerly seeks to serve others. A distinction must be drawn between “humiliation” and “humility,” as the former is inflicted or forced upon a person and the latter is heart-felt and voluntary. The fruit of humility in a disciple’s life also shows up in the MISSIONS domain as integrity and trust.
The point is that churches should develop a leadership development process for potential leaders that cultivates faith, humility, integrity, and character. It is fair to say that a leader who has been tested in the four Simple Discipleship domains and is found to possess faith, humility, integrity, and character will be a good servant leader. A potential leader found lacking in either of the four qualities will likely not be a good servant leader.
PROFICIENCY DISCIPLESHIP HELPS LEADERS THINK DIFFERENTLY
A common proverb about leadership is, “A leader on a journey with no one following is only out on a walk.” With all of the discussion and programs available for leadership development, we are producing few leaders. Not only are we missing the boat when it comes to cultivating Christian character as illustrated above but we also fail to cultivate the thinking of potential leaders. Leaders think differently! Jesus did and later Paul the apostle. Space does not allow an inclusion of many historical Christian leaders who thought differently and transformed some area of their community.
Liz Mellon in her book Inside the Leader’s Mind: Five Ways to Think Like a Leader, has identified some interesting points of leadership development that may be neglected. I list them here with my own revisions for Christian leaders:
- Leaders push the boundaries with God as their safety net.
- Leaders are comfortable in discomfort as they lead others to a new spiritual level.
- Leaders exude spiritual confidence to those they lead.
- Leaders are aware of their role in the life of those they lead as related to God’s plan and purpose for a specific contextual ministry.
- Leaders assimilate the identity of their ministry and vice versa; this is required for “big picture” long-term transformational leadership
Perhaps these five points will be discussed in a future article.
Dr. Tom Cocklereece, The Disciplist
- Describe the leadership development process of your church or ministry.
- How would a leadership development process change the culture of your church?
- Do the five descriptions of how leaders think describe you?
Dr. Tom Cocklereece is CEO of RENOVA Coaching and Consulting, LLC
Author “Simple Discipleship,” contributing writer L2L Blogazine
He is a pastor, an author, professional coach, and leadership specialist
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