How Does Church Planting Relate to God’s Mission?

Every church involved in a new church, and every church planter starting one, needs to answer the question: what is church planting?

For some, the word planting comes across as insider language. In the sub-culture of the church planting world there is an entire language mostly unknown to the outside. We’ve all heard of planters talk about “doing a parachute drop church plant,” or “starting with a launch team.” What do these words even mean? More importantly, what is church planting about?

That’s an essential question, really.

Church Planting or Church Starting?

When we talk about church planting it can be a little different than church starting. What’s the difference? Well, I think church starting happens a lot of ways. The most popular church starting strategy involves a group of people getting mad, leaving their home church, and starting another church. In most cases I wouldn’t advise this strategy.

Church planting, on the other hand, involves an individual, mother church, and/or a group of people going out to start a church for the purpose of engaging a community through gospel proclamation and demonstration.

Church plating, unlike church starting, should/must be mission driven.

Church planting grows in the soil of lostness (hence “planting”) where men and women far from God are challenged with the claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ by a group of intentional believers.

Church Planting and Gospel Movements

Church planting is about planting the gospel. And growth in church planting comes from making disciples.

As such, any movement of churches that’s going to be serious about reaching the lost world is going to be involved in church planting. In fact, most of us who write in the field of mission believe that any movement or denomination desiring to grow through conversion should aim for at least a three percent rate of church planting every year. (Take a look– most growing groups and denominations have over that percent and most declining ones have under that percent.)

Think of it this way, if a movement has a hundred churches one year they need to plant three the next year– at the very least.

Church planting is essential to the growth of the Kingdom and the work of Christ through His church. The networks, movements, and denominations that are thriving are thriving because they’re planting new churches. The key thing to remember here is that church planting is reaching lost people through the making of disciples that then gather into congregations.

Planting and the Mission of God

How does church planting relate to the mission of God? The mission of God is bigger than church planting, but it certainly includes church planting. Why? You can’t love Jesus and despise His wife. The church is the bride of Christ, and if you love the work of Christ you love the church.

Now, you and I both know that the church is a mess sometimes. While the church is the stunning bride of Christ, she sometimes looks more like Shrek than she does beautiful. But again, you can’t love Jesus and hate His wife.

Ultimately if you’re going to love the mission of God, you have to love the church of God which is sent out for the mission of God. Ephesians 3:10 tells us God has chosen the church to make known His manifold wisdom. Therefore the church is the tool or instrument of His Kingdom agenda.

If you want to change the world, and if you want to see God at work in the world, plant change agent churches. I think anyone who loves Jesus and His church would, by extension, love and be about the mission of God proclaiming the gospel of Christ– and that is done effectively through church planting.

Conclusion

So is it the mission more than planting?

Yes, it certainly is more than that. Is every church that’s planted necessarily a good thing? No, there are always exceptions, but as a whole, I think church planting is integral to the advance of the Kingdom. And more church plants doing more of what God wants us to do is a good thing.

For this reason I think church planting and multiplication is so essential to the mission of God.

None of our churches should be a cul-de-sac on the Great Commission highway.

Instead, as we plant churches that plant churches that plant churches, the Kingdom advances. The gospel is preached, men and women become believers, churches are formed, and those churches become agents of gospel transformation.

So, want to be missional? Great– just don’t forget church planting.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Joel Sprenger — 07/14/13 12:40 am

My thoughts for what they are worth. - The problem with all church plants in a de-christianizing society like ours is that they compete with already existing churches. Actions speak louder than words and the action of planting a church speaks loudly to the pagans that we believe that God cares about our denomination and the teachings and practices that are unique there-to. There are very few Bible verses that say in effect 'believe thusly', not zero but very few. Compare that to the number of verses that say 'act thusly'. This should give us some idea of what is important to God. Something that I think would help the The Church immensely is if all believers would memorize John 17:20-23 right after they memorize John 3:16,

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Why Being Fruitful is as Important as Being Faithful

In many corners of the church today, there’s an unhelpful and unhealthy division between theology and practical ministry. This division is damaging to both the discipline of theology and the practice of ministry because one without the other causes an imbalance.

Part of the cause of this division is the large number of theologically-minded people who spurn practicality as pragmatism. This can be seen as an overreaction to the Church Growth Movement of the 1980s.

Such critics rigorously decried a methodological mania as devoid of theological foundation. They took aim at folks like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and John Maxwell, accusing them of having only a modicum of theology accompanied by mountains of methodology.

Unfortunately, those theologically-minded people concerned with too much practicality, strategy, and leadership, threw the baby out with the bath water. Rather than looking for the proper place of practicality, strategy, and leadership, they found no place for it.

There are theologically-minded people who are producing large bodies of literature attempting rebuff any emphasis on the practical. They are teaching a whole world of people—a whole generation of pastors—that practical ministry, leadership strategies, and coaching don’t matter. I feel like some think practicality in any degree is heretical. It’s ecclesiology that matters, they say. All that matters is theology, they say.

They are creating a division, where no necessary division exists.

Contrary to that line of thinking, you have to consider the effectiveness of your ministry as well. Effectiveness isn’t only measured by the straightness of the angles in your division of the word of truth. Resist the urge to cluck your tongue when the topic turns to statistics and best practices, even if you just want to rush straight to ecclesiology and soteriology.

Honestly, it seems in some instances the “love” for theology is an excuse for failed discipleship, failed attendance growth, or failed discipleship, failed attendance growth, or failed outreach efforts. And, of course, that’s not what they say—they say they are just being faithful. The problem is they are not working in such a way to also be fruitful.

Here’s the danger. If we raise up a generation of theologically-minded people who have no tools for applying it to practical ministry, then reproduction stops. If we become so theological to the neglect of the practical, then ministry will be hindered.

That doesn’t mean we embrace the practical to the neglect of the theological. It’s also dangerous to go too far in the other direction. Practicality cannot be the driving force. Pragmatism cannot be the central focus of what we do. You have to be theologically-minded as well as practical.

Some essentially say, “I just want to do anything I can to reach people for Jesus.” That’s a bad idea. Don’t do anything you can to reach people for Jesus, because then you will end up losing the gospel.

The way we do ministry has to be driven by what we believe about the gospel and about theology. But if all we care about is theology and not how we might best apply theology in the world then we’re not taking seriously the gospel and theology.

> Read more from Ed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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To Reach Your Community, You Must Fall in Love with Your Community

“Give me Scotland or I die!”

That’s what John Knox said of Scotland. I would say: To fall in love with your community, you have to die–to yourself, to the mission and to your own preferences.

If you are going to reach a community, you need to be deeply in love with it. Jesus, looking down on Jerusalem, cried, “They are like sheep without a shepherd.” We have to say the same, about Plainview, Philadelphia and Pasadena. I am convinced you will not reach a community for Christ unless you are deeply in love with the community and its people.

Think Like a Missionary

I have often called for Christians in our world to think like missionaries in the Two-Thirds World. If you have ever been around a missionary, you know that the good ones all love the people they are sent to–they can’t stop talking about the culture and context.

When missionaries take up residence cross-culturally, they truly love the culture where they live, sometimes even more than the culture back home. In the same way, a person looking to minister in a specific community cannot be disinterested in it. If it is a fishing community, you had better love fishing or learn to love it. If the community has a high school football team, you had better keep up with it. If you are a church leader, the community and its people must have an important part in your heart.

I think you and I need the same passion in our contexts–our own personal “Scotlands”–for the Gospel.

Jesus demonstrated this very concept in His earthly ministry as He: walked with the people in His culture, lived with them, listened to them, told stories to them, welcomed their children, and recognized and met people’s needs.

The Church in Your Head

Too many church leaders read a book or go to a conference and get a great vision of a church in their heads. The problem is, they don’t have a great vision for their community. The catch here is that part of you often has to die. Your own preferences have to be laid down to receive Christ’s call and mission to the community. I don’t care what you like; I care that you love the Gospel and the people God has called you to reach. You may have to die to your desires–to pastoring a cool church in Manhattan or a laid back church in Southern California.

Leading the Church to Love

As a church leader, you must be willing to die to your preferences so your community can be reached with the Gospel, and so must your church. In established churches, this can be even more challenging than personally dying to self. This is because the pastor often already has the vision and burden to reach the community, but the church is comfortable residing in the Christian ghetto insulated from the community. (While maybe not as common, church myopia can also be a problem for planters if the new church is growing primarily by people coming from other churches, most, if not all, of whom already have their own ideas about how church ought to be.)

Reaching a community for Christ is not about you and your preferences. It is more about Jesus and his mission to send you to people. Your goal is what Count Zinzendorf said: “Preach the Gospel, die and be forgotten.”

Until the church dies to its comfort, preferences, wants and desires, it will not be able to reach the community. But like a grain of wheat, it must die so that it may bring new life.

Perhaps we should combine the phrases of Knox and Zinzendorf and say, “Give me Scotland or I die … then let me die and be forgotten.” When that matters most, you’ll die to self, live for His mission and reach your community in ways that are unimaginable.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Rapidly Growing Churches Place a Premium on Intentional and Strategic Leadership

I’m pretty sure that I’ve never met anyone who became a pastor so that they could spend their time worrying about strategy.

Those of us who are pastors and church leaders generally invest in ministry because we love people, not because we love spreadsheets and flowcharts. We love ministry because we want to see people move from where they are to where God wants them to be. There are very few things in life more powerful.

Seeing broken people become whole in and through Jesus really is amazing. However, church leaders do themselves and the churches they lead a huge disservice when they neglect strategy because they are not naturally inclined to it. Many pastors and church leaders are not necessarily strategically inclined, and because of that they ignore it, or intentionally neglect it.

In our research on the largest and fastest growing churches in America, however, we have found that strategy really matters. Churches who are rapidly growing, and who maintain that growth, place a premium on intentional and strategic leadership.

A Strategic Approach

Every year, at LifeWay Research, we pull together data from churches across the country. We collate the data in two ways; the fastest growing churches in the country and the largest churches in the country. This research is usually among the more talked about research we do each year.

Some think we publish this research because we are trying to exalt the large church as the “best” model for doing church. This simply isn’t true. Remember, God used the megachurch to reach Korea and the house church to reach China. Models should be held loosely, and Jesus should be held tightly. We are not convinced the bigger the church is, the better that church is.

We believe that any church that God uses is a great church. With that said, we also believe that facts are our friends. We want to regularly evaluate what God is doing in churches across the country, and one of the ways we do that is through this research.

As we comb through the research each year, we look to see if there are trends that stand out, or similar experiences that are shared by many of the churches who are seeing exciting growth.

Each year we find one or two areas that are unique and, we think, potentially helpful to other pastors and church leaders. This year is no exception. As we looked through the surveys, and interviewed a number of the churches, we saw a common theme of intentional strategy begin to emerge. This is more than just strategy, however, this is strategy in a couple of very specific areas – areas which might have received a bit less emphasis in the past.

We noticed that churches were intentionally investing strategic energies in groups ministry and sermon prep this year in a way that seems to be growing in popularity over the past few years. This matters because strategy is sorely lacking from many American churches. In a recent LifeWay Research study, among the pastors we surveyed, only 42% believed that their groups have a well-defined approach. Even worse than that, over half of all pastors we surveyed have no intentional plan for discipling all ages in their church.

This lack of consistent strategy in our churches is killing our disciple-making.

Group Strategy

Christ Church of the Valley – Phoenix, AZ

One church that is seeing God move in powerful ways is Christ Church of the Valley in the greater Phoenix area. They come in at #8 in the Largest Churches list and #91 in the Fastest Growing list. Started in 1982, they have grown to over 21,000 each weekend and meet across the Phoenix metro on 5 different campuses.

As a church, they would appear to be the definition of success, at least according to many. In spite of that, however, they recently underwent a pretty significant change in their group strategy. Formerly they used a fairly typical groups strategy with people grouped together by affinity. Additionally they would have a variety of ministries meeting throughout the week on their campus. While these ministry avenues generated a lot of people and activity, they were not sure they were helping the church actually accomplish its mission of, “win, train and send.”

Ashley Wooldridge, who is the Executive Pastor at Christ Church described their group gatherings as one “holy huddle” after another. He went on to say, “We would find groups of people that we liked and we would drive out of our neighborhoods, past all the neighbors that we knew did not know Jesus, and did not go to church” on their way to meet with their affinity-based small group. This lack of missional intentionality led the church leadership to reconsider their strategy. They arrived at a place where they were frustrated by their lack of missional effectiveness. “We are tired of saying that we want to reach our neighborhoods and change our culture yet really not strategically doing something about it.”

They completely shut down their affinity-based small group strategy. Instead, they launched a new groups ministry that is based on neighborhood. Every person in the church is encouraged to engage in a group that meets in their basic geographic area.

They are so committed to this strategy that Wooldridge tells us they don’t have any groups that exist today that would not be meeting in the neighborhood that the people live in. What is more, they eliminated all other larger groups that used to meet on their campus. Groups like women’s ministry, men’s ministry, single’s ministry no longer happen in lieu of everyone meeting in their neighborhood.

This combination of simplification and strategic discipleship strategy has served to promote relational discipleship as people now live in proximity with those they are growing in Christ with. It helps promote mission, as they can easily invite non-believers in their community to meet with their group, which is also in their community.

Wooldridge goes on to highlight that this has changed their approach to mission. “We found that it is a lot easier for a Christian to go overseas for Africa for a week, beat their chest, come back, feeling really good that they did something great, and then drive into their neighborhoods, while all the people around us that we know are not going to heaven with us.”

This change in strategy has unleashed the people in their church to grow as disciples, and to serve their community on mission. Wooldridge noted that they still send people around the world on mission, but this strategic change has exponentially increased their influence in their immediate area.

Though Wooldridge did not mention this, but my observation would be that they also enabled their large church to become smaller, and approachable, by multiplying through this neighborhood approach. Their intentional strategy has freed them up to serve people more effectively, allowing the Great Commission to go out and disciples to be made.

Real Life Church – Valencia, CA

Another church that is strategically positioning themselves to better disciple the people entrusted to them is the Real Life Church of Valencia, CA. Real Life Church is #93 on the Largest Churches list and #41 on the fastest growing list.

Real Life Church is working to strategically position themselves to see people’s lives transformed. While Christ Church of the Valley uses a streamlined, neighborhood strategy, Real Life Church is using a different strategy, focused on a variety of discipleship options, to help their people grow to be like Jesus.

Brennan Conklin, their Executive Director of Ministry explains their discipleship group strategy is divided into four segments. They offer Life Groups, Celebrate Recovery, Care Communities and affinity groups as a means for people to be discipled. Life Groups are companions to their weekend worship experiences, and meet in homes, with most people attending one in their basic geographic area.

Celebrate Recovery has become a major part of their groups strategy. Inviting people in who have any number of “hurts, habits and hang-ups,” they are seeing large numbers of people gather, on their campus, each week.

Care Communities are based off various topics and provide discipleship opportunities for people who have had their life turned upside down and are struggling with issues such as cancer, divorce, financial struggle, etc.

Finally, affinity groups gather around specific affinities such as men’s ministry or women’s ministry. This multi-faceted ministry allows them to offer opportunities to people wherever they are, and whatever stage they are in. Conlkin says that, while they offer many opportunities on their campus, they have a strategic push to offer many of these discipleship opportunities off campus for missional reasons. “We don’t want to see these kinds of discipleship paths be taken away from the neighborhood because of all of the people [there].”

While their four discipleship pathways are intentional, they are also highly relational and exist to serve people. In fact, Conklin describes their pathways as a means to help people assume more responsibility for their own discipleship. “Through these options, you are helping people take ownership of their following of Jesus.”

This effort to strategically enable their congregation to own their discipleship progress is an encouraging sign.

>>Read more from Ed.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Doing Life Together with Others Follows Christ’s Example

In a world that is pushing against community, the church must pursue authentic community.

Community matters.

There are few things in which the church can be more counter-cultural than in the way it practices community. There are few things in which the church can manifest its missional nature more than in the way it pursues community.

Community matters.

It’s a biblical non-negotiable. Transformation is not an individual task. No Christian is an island. The model Jesus gave us for disciple making is one of shared experience and learning in community. Christ did life together with his disciples, and he expects us to undergo life transformation as a community.

Community matters.

Churches that are serious about developing and cultivating authentic community are going to have congregations that are involved in transformational small groups. There’s no getting around the fact that any church that wants to make an impact on its people and a difference in its neighborhood will pursue and cultivate small groups.

Transformational Groups Matter

Transformational groups matter. Small-group ministry is essential to the health of any church. These small groups take a variety of forms: cell groups, Bible studies, life groups, Bible fellowships, discipleship classes, home groups, Sunday school classes, and other gatherings that promote relationships within the community.

The question is: what’s the primary reason for having small groups? It’s important to note that all groups have three purposes:

  • All groups have a connecting function.
  • All groups have a formation function.
  • All groups have a mission function.

Depending on the makeup of your congregation, your overall discipleship plan, and/or your small group strategy, you’ll find that one function will become predominant over the others. And that’s okay. You can actually structure accordingly to accomplish all three functions.

Decide on a Purpose

The first question we have to ask: what is going to be the primary function or purpose? Connecting? Formation? Mission? The answer depends on several different factors. The discipleship strategy of your church is a pre-condition that is the most important question to decide which function will be the focus.

If the preaching and teaching in your church is predominantly characterized by biblical exposition, it would be wise to consider the connecting or mission functions for your small groups. This doesn’t mean your small groups won’t study the Bible. It’s just that their intended purpose will be along the connecting or mission trajectories.

Conversely, if the preaching and teaching on Sunday is more topical and intended as a front-door experience for those who wouldn’t be considered the core of your community, you probably want to consider small groups centered on Bible study and spiritual formation.

Decide on a Structure

The next question to consider is how will you structure your small groups to carry out the primary function?

For example, let’s say that you’re focusing on missional communities. Missional communities are communities that are intentionally mission focused. These communities are engaging and serving those around them as an outgrowth of the gospel.

This doesn’t mean that missional small groups are not a place for congregational members to be building meaningful relationships with one another. They are connection points. And it also doesn’t mean that missional small groups do not seriously engage in spiritual formation in the lives of its members. It’s just the opposite. Missional small groups are strongest when all three functions of a group are present, with mission being the primary focus.

Cautions

There are a couple of cautions I need to point out.

The first, I’ve alluded to above. Focusing on one function of a group alone is not healthy. Transformational small groups thrive when they are practicing all three functions with one as primary. A solitary focus on missions tends to be unsustainable to groups that are not primarily college students. Groups that are solely focused on formation tend to lead to a spiritual deadness in the lives of the people and in the life of the church.

This is why the Sunday School movement has seen a lot of decline over the past few years. Many Sunday School classes are focused on knowledge formation. There’s really not enough else happening within the dynamic of the small group that would rise to the level of spiritual formation. The recitation of knowledge without any connection or mission leads to a sense of dryness.

On the flip side, if we’re developing a small group as a connecting point for friendship and social interaction only, the result is pretty shallow spirituality. In fact, people will hang for a while and enjoy the relationship building. But since there’s nothing more to the group, after a few weeks or months, they simply won’t stick around.

Our research shows people believe there must be a purpose for their gathering. That’s why they’ve come to church. Not simply for connecting, but for something bigger than themselves. And I’ll suggest that something bigger is found in the Word. Small groups that are serious about transformation will have some kind of Bible study or spiritual formation component to them, even if it is secondary to the connecting or mission functions.

Holistic Approach

Every small group should have all three elements of the purpose and function of groups, but one element will be predominant based on the overall discipleship strategy of the church. And that’s the sweet spot.

Transformational small groups that are going to serve the church well are going to flow out of the church’s strategy for discipleship and mission. And they are going to be most effective when they augment, rather than duplicate the weekend services.

If you’d like to explore more in depth about the role of small groups in the life of the church, my colleague Eric Geiger and I have published a helpful book, Transformational Groups: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations.

How is your church doing with small groups?

> Read more by Ed.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

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You Mass Produce Cars, Not Disciples

Disciples Need Leaders

I wonder how many church leaders don’t even realize the success of ongoing discipleship depends partly on how well they develop leaders.

God didn’t design the church to have one person lead everyone else in spiritual formation—far too often the model of evangelical churches. Throughout the New Testament, we see leadership development and delegation—or mass participation—of discipling others.

Paul repeatedly told young pastors to entrust the ministry to spiritual people who could then pass it on to the next generation.

I’m convinced one of the reasons we struggle with discipleship is because we aren’t raising up leaders to make more disciples.

You don’t need a priest because you are a priest.

Most people who are reading this are going to be Protestants of some variety. Protestantism was in part a rediscovery that individuals do not need a priest to communicate with God.

This is a key theological issue. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9 that we are a “royal priesthood” who are to proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness. We correctly assert that we don’t need another human as a priest for us to have access to God.

Protestantism universally holds this axiom—it’s a defining biblical view.

What’s interesting is that while it may be a universally held theological understanding, in practice most churches have a talented leader who explains the Bible. Otherwise, we can’t understand it. The congregants, who are supposedly priests themselves, end up asking this person what God is trying to say.

Functionally, we have adopted a very non-Protestant idea of a priesthood, as if we can’t approach God ourselves. We function as if God’s people cannot engage God’s word.

No Christian should think that.

Leadership Deficit Knows No Boundaries

Oddly enough, this problem doesn’t just exist with Christians.

Anthropologically speaking, religion is a universal constant. Every culture in the world developed with religion, and such religions tend to create rituals where they ceremonialize their religious obligation and hierarchies so they can outsource their religious obligation. The natural human experience is to turn your faith responsibility over to a ritual and religious hierarchy.

I know those reading this are from different traditions. I’m not talking about the beauty of worship that can be in liturgical form. I’m not speaking against the biblical office of pastor. This topic is about the tendency in human nature to ritualize our devotion and look to religious hierarchies.

We create rituals and priests, often so we don’t have to have personal devotion to, and a personal relationship with, the Lord.

So we shouldn’t be surprised about the trajectory that churches tend to follow. I call that “clergification,” the point when acts of faith center on clergy.

The problem is remarkably unbiblical. Some might say, “Well, I believe in clergy. I believe in biblical offices in the church, such as the distinct role of pastor.” That’s fine. Actually, so do I—but invariable someone reads into what I’ve written. Let’s try not to.

Some denominations have what we call lower ecclesiology and liturgy (low church). Other denominations have a higher ecclesiology and liturgy (high church). Some with a high ecclesiology may believe pastors are necessary to partake in the sacraments. Others with a low ecclesiology may believe anyone can engage in these things together, under the auspices of a local church.

If you are Lutheran, Baptist, Calvinist, or Pentecostal, you really do agree that clergification is a bad thing, even if you hold to the role, office, or function of a pastor (as I do). And, you really do think that the Protestant Reformation emphasis on direct access to God was just a reflection of the biblical teaching that Jesus is the one mediator between God and man.

Centralized Spirituality Is Unhealthy

Regardless of where you come down on these issues, my guess is that if you were to think about it, you would agree that too much of the ministry and mission has been centralized around the clergy. Some would even agree that it is actually hindering the life and ministry of your church.

Whether you’re a high-church Anglican or a low-church Brethren, and everything in-between, clergification has damaged all of us. This shift in missional responsibility causes clergy to become religious shopkeepers, providing the religious goods and services to the customers. These customers never get to the point where they serve as co-laborers.

God did not plan for one person to disciple an entire church, and He didn’t design us to grow via mass discipleship.

There are things that a good pastor can and should do and I will not list them all there. In the context of this article, a good pastor can lead a culture of discipleship. A healthy culture of discipleship recognizes that everyone is not only a priest, but also chosen and empowered by God to lead others into a deeper walk with Him.

Being priests does not mean we can go the walk alone. We follow those who went before, and lead those coming behind. Others led us so that we could lead. This kind of leadership development does not occur in a culture of clergification. Because of that, many churches throughout the world are addressing the challenges it presents.

Discipleship Thrives in Spiritual Small Groups

There are plenty of hurdles impeding the discipleship process. But we don’t want just to point out challenges. Many like to point out the crises and sell books, but they don’t solve problems.

So how do we move forward, if there’s a challenge, even a crisis, of discipleship and community in most churches? How do we move people from the crisis to actually some solutions?

The research behind Transformational Groups, which I wrote with Eric Geiger, demonstrates that small groups are being effective. People will mature spiritually in small groups with personal, godly leadership.

To experience effective group ministry there needs to be a de-clergification of the way you do church. This change will require the empowerment of a new band and breed of leaders throughout the church. Developed leadership differs from centralized leadership, but ultimately one of the keys to effective small-group ministry is going to be the development of leadership. We need to explore what leadership development looks like, and what kind of leaders help produce healthy group life in a church.

Have you experienced the difference between centralized spirituality and leadership development models of discipleship? How would you characterize the kind of disciples they produce? What do you think keeps pastors from developing solid leaders so they can disciple others?

> Read more from Ed.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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John Gilbank — 01/18/17 7:03 pm

Challenging and very good

Grant — 10/13/16 9:49 am

I think you have misunderstood what the author is trying to communicate...

david bartosik — 10/10/15 6:59 pm

Priesthood of all believers....I believe it, but if its not, in your unhelpful words, the "talented leader who explains the Bible" who does? Who is explaining the bible to the priesthood? If its not the pastor, then fire him and hire the other guy.... You may answer, "the priesthood should be reading the bible for themselves"..."the priesthood is able to go directly to God"... TRUE, BUT many, including many clergy, aren't interested in God or if they are feel stupid that they cant read the bible or know how to see and hear from God for themselves thru his word. Where does that leave us? Who helps these people? Thats what discipleship is...clergy leading a deliberate pursuit of a few and helping them see God for themselves in scripture and see it transform their lives...and multiply into the lives of others. But you seem to argument against that..... 1. You hate Centralized Spirituality saying its Unhealthy: The big idea you seem to be driving at was the "de-centralizing" of clergies role while simultaneously asking for a discipleship system to be constructed....who is responsible to construct this system if not the clergy whom the church has entrusted with that role? 2. You dont think that "God planned for one person to disciple an entire church, and He didn’t design us to grow via mass discipleship." So if not one person ( a church that budgets for one pastor) or a staff of vocational pastors (a church that allocates rescues for multiple pastors) who drives this? of course there are other leaders but who is at the center? 3. Seems obvious, but you said Discipleship Thrives in Spiritual Small Groups...yes but how is this small group system managed? There is no way you say, just go do small groups and see what happens right? Study what you want, who cares who leads, who cares who comes, figure it out by yourself...youre a priest good luck! There is a checks and balances system that would be helpful right? There is support, there is direction....Who is the gatekeeper determining the quality of the group and supporting, encouraging and driving its health? all questions that I hope are helpful for the church, the article seems like its trying to give easy answers to an incredibly challenging idea. It seems to be attacking clergy rather than helping them see the enormity of what the people of God and God himself have entrusted to them. Help pastors step into the role of discipler, being supported by the elders, and investing their lives and conversations into helping people see God thru scripture deliberately and consistently...unwavering to any fad or program that may distract us.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Don’t Stop Until Your “Decisions” Lead to Discipleship

One of the most exciting moments within the life of a church is when someone comes to know Jesus Christ as Savior. We celebrate having new believers in our churches, but are we leading them to become lifelong disciples of Jesus?

Are we helping them continue through the transformation process or are we leaving them in convert mode?

Conversion is not the end. It is the glorious beginning.

We have become masters at getting “decisions.” Conversion is a powerful event in the life of the believer. It is a great moment. But it isn’t the end of the game. Converting those decisions into disciples must be part of the church’s purpose.

Sometimes we put such an emphasis on that moment, we make people think that is all we are after. The not-so-funny joke is that some people are willing to receive Christ just so the pastor will leave them alone. Our goal is often for conversions. But God’s goal is for transformation, which really just begins at conversion.

Paul remarks in his letter to the Philippians (1:6), “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Conversion is central to the beginning of new life, being relocated (spiritually) to another kingdom. Colossians 1:13 tells us that we are “transferred through the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”

They have been born again, Jesus says in John 3. So there is now a spiritual life present now that was not present before. The Spirit of God dwells in them. They have new life. They are a new creation in Christ even as Christ in them is the “hope of glory.” But that event is not the end. It is a taste of the ongoing transformation that will come.

Spiritual growth should always follow spiritual birth.

How do we follow up for spiritual growth?

It’s a really bad idea to give birth to a baby and leave them on their own. We call that abandonment. People go to jail for that—and rightfully so. But I think sometimes we do that in church.

I call people to trust and respond to Christ every week in our church service. We ask them to share that decision through a card. Others use an altar call where new believers are connected with an established believer.

Whatever you use, it is at this point the process of partnership in spiritual growth is now stewarded to you and your church. We need to prioritize the discipling of anyone who has trusted Christ in our church.

When our church had ten people, I would meet with that person the same week. Now that our church has grown, I am not necessarily the person who meets with that new believer (unless they are in my neighborhood).

But in our context we’ve grown now where we have dozens of groups who become the “under shepherds,” leading people into the spiritual growth process. These groups are made of small group leaders—lay pastors in a sense—who are empowered to do the disciple making.

It is essential that someone connects with that new believer. As a matter of fact, I would say that there is no more important person in the life of the church, my church and yours, than the person who has just called upon the name of King Jesus for Salvation.

Spiritual mentoring creates a pathway to stabilization

Why is it so important to connect a new convert with someone who will walk through the spiritual growth process? More often than not people respond to Christ because they are in a life crisis, not just because they wake up feeling the need to be closer to Christ.

Adults who become Christians usually do so because of a challenging situation of some sort, and that means they probably need some help, and often need it fast.

A person who responds to Christ in a crisis then needs three types of stabilization, as I first heard from my friend Dan Morgan. And a journey companion can help with each of these.

Personal Stabilization – Most of the adults who I see trust Christ are doing so as their marriage is in trouble, or they’ve just had a drunk driving incident or whatever it may be. They need personal stabilization. Their personal life is spinning out of control. They are facing and making some crazy decisions. Becoming personally stable is part of what happens during spiritual transformation. So we have people in our church who can help with that.

Relational Stabilization – Now that they’ve become a believer they’re probably leaving behind some things and certain people behind who aren’t on board with their new life. These are usually people with whom they used to get into trouble, and some who helped them into the crisis God used to reach them. Losing friends and family can sometimes be part of following Jesus—not because that is our desire, but sometimes because the old friends aren’t too keen about that new life. But, either way, it isn’t easy. So they need people who can help with relational stabilization.

Doctrinal Stabilization – The unregenerated person does not think properly about God, life, truth, etc. So part of the discipleship process is renewal of our mind. We know “all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) So the convert will definitely need to exchange their belief system for God’s truth. However, most follow up only focuses on doctrinal stabilization.

Yes, let’s teach them what they need to know, but there may be some other stabilization that needs to take place first. Eventually good doctrine will help sustain them through crisis. But in a crisis, a whole new set of truths is not the only thing that is needed.

Spiritual mentoring is follow-up that encourages following.

This piece won’t answer every question, but I mainly want to remind us all that we need to immediately help people grow—and to do so through a process.

Every church needs a pathway which will provide direction for their discipleship plan, and also show how they grow together as a church. So we want them to travel on the pathway—maybe through classes, intentional relationships, a workbook, and more. But particularly when they’re older we want to recognize there’s probably a lot of instability we need to engage.

Part of that process has to involve people. The best thing you can offer a new believer is an older believer. It doesn’t have to be someone older in age, but rather someone who has been walking with Jesus for a longer period of time and experienced ongoing life-transformation themselves.

> Read more from Ed.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Leading A Cause Bigger Than Ourselves

Church movements are tricky things, but the phrase has never been more popular.

People keep referring to themselves as “a movement for global change” or “a church planting movement.” If we’re honest, however, that’s usually not the case.

Why do so many people classify themselves as a movement? People want to be a part of one. I recognize that desire because I share it. I am a seeker of movements. I want one. We need one.

Yet, only God can create a movement—it takes His divine and sovereign work. But, based on my observations in history and around the world today, there do seem to be some patterns related to such movements.

The obvious question is, “What will it take for a church movement to start now?” Here are just a few ideas of many:

We need unreasonable men and women.

The comfortable do not create movements. Instead, they originate with those who are desperate, demanding something different. Movements come from those who become more committed than they are now.

George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist and socialist, once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” He’s right, in a way.

I’d say that when women and men allow their faith to be tamed by the world, they end up with a “nice religion” uninterested in the big issues like global evangelization, world poverty, and injustice. That’s why I love passionate people. We need more, not less of them.

Christianity needs unreasonable people who are uncomfortable with the status quo and unwilling to be content with the current mode of life and church. We all need a cause bigger than ourselves, which can drive us to action with a holy dissatisfaction.

We need churches that are willing to sacrifice.

Seeing the Kingdom as more important than an individual church will take sacrifice, but that’s what a movement is about. For so many churches that are simply trying to get by, however, that is an odd thing. Instead of a vision for the Kingdom, they have a vision for survival.

A movement takes churches that so believe in their mission and cause that they are willing to sacrifice for it—financially, congregationally and corporately. They are willing to give andgo. Movement churches will sacrifice people to send out missionaries around the world and church planters across the nation.

Everyone loves a movement, as long as it looks great, but costs them little. A true movement will have a steep price, but those who are a part of it will recognize the immeasurable value.

We need multiplying disciples.

That’s so basic it is easy to miss, but it cannot be more essential. The fact is, no disciples are willing to be unreasonable and no churches are willing to sacrifice unless deeply committed disciples are involved.

Discipleship is the DNA of “movemental Christianity.” It is the basic building block of anything Jesus calls us to do, which is why it is central to the mission of God. Disciples are unreasonable because they want the world to know of Jesus and to live as those who are changed by the gospel’s power. Disciples demand their churches sacrifice for greater gospel good.

Paul explained that when we become new creations in Christ, we are drafted into service. We go out on God’s behalf and offer reconciliation to the people in our lives. We don’t replace Christ, but we do join him in the grand plan of redemption. We join churches and sacrifice for the good of the Kingdom.

On multiple occasions Jesus challenged the faith development of his disciples. As time went on, he expected them to step out in faith and believe with more consistency. He expected them to step out of boats with greater confidence. He expected them to be unsatisfied.

No Christian movement can be birthed without discipleship. It is impossible.

So, what needs to happen and what needs to change?

This book, Kingdom First: Starting Churches that Shape Movements, by Jeff Christopherson with Mac Lake, is a helpful tool to answer that very question. Throughout this text, Jeff walks the reader through the various necessities required for a real movement of the church, focused on the kingdom, powered by discipleship.

All sorts of factors play into church movements: leadership, purpose, communication, teamwork, and so much more. I am thankful for the ways in which Jeff has addressed all of these topics because each one of them plays an important role in real, effective Kingdom-centric movements of the global Church.

I hope that as you read and engage with Jeff’s book, you would be inspired to take the steps necessary to focus your discipleship-fueled multiplication on the good of the universal Kingdom of God.

> Read more from Ed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Developing an Assessment Culture that Provides Truth Today and Direction Tomorrow

I hate bad stats. They undermine the credibility of Christians and can confuse the issues. (I’ve written on the issue in Christianity Today.) But when we apply stats wisely, they can be of great benefit.

So while I often say “facts are our friends,” they aren’t always friendly. For example, in 2009, LifeWay Research found that 55% of church attendees believed they had grown spiritually over the last year, while only 3.5% of those displayed any measurable growth. That’s not a very warm and fuzzy stat, but it’s an honest one.

Sometimes, though, churches tend to be more hopeful than honest when they look at their situation. That can be good—we are a people of faith. However, bad information undermines good strategy. I believe that churches must have the right information to make that right decisions.

That takes intellegent self assessment.

When we speak of the need for an assessment culture, we want churches and Christians to avoid making claims that are unsubstantiated. We, above all others, need to be trustworthy, and we can do that with accurate assessment of where we are as individuals and a church.

Churches need honesty as much as they need to have hope.

Assessments are a great way to examine the truth about today and provide a direction for tomorrow. And an assessment culture within a church provides a way forward in thinking about where we are and how to go forward in making disciples.

For so long, churches have claimed success because their focus was on bodies, budgets, and buildings. Other areas, where the picture was not as pretty, were ignored. Creating a true assessment culture is about changing the scorecard. Attention is given to the factors that really lead to biblical growth and transformation within a church across cultural contexts and regardless of the size.

In Transformational Church, Thom Rainer and I examine the research to determine and explain the factors that were common to those churches across the spectrum who were experiencing true transformation. It’s why we developed our Transformational Church Assessment Tool. Instead of targeting areas that had been traditional measuring sticks for discipleship, we evaluated a broad spectrum of churches that were seeing transformation take place. They made disciples. By investigating what was taking place there, we proposed a new scorecard to assess the actual health of a church.

I’m not concerned so much that you use our LifeWay Research assessment tools—though I believe in it because the methods are verified statistically and repeatable in any church setting—I just want you to be engaged in assessing your ministry and doing so in a way that gives you an accurate portrayal of your success or lack thereof.

An assessment culture helps you take a realistic look at what your priority areas should be and evaluate how you are making progress in those. Too often we allow ourselves to slip into a false comfort from anecdotal progress that is not really indicative of what is happening.

I want your church to be transformational, and I know you do as well. We need churches that are being transformed by their dynamic relationship with Christ and, as a result, transforming their members and their surrounding neighborhood. Establishing an assessment culture can help you find and address the areas where you are not seeing that occur as well and as often as it could.

Later in this series on creating an assessment culture, I will be talking about why it is you need it, what are some wrong ways to do it, and two of the factors that must be a part of any church assessment culture.

While “creating an assessment culture” may not sound like the most intriguing topic, I believe it is vital to the health of your church. It enables and empowers you to not just think you are making disciples on a consistent basis, but to know that your church is regularly fulfilling the Great Commission.

Part One of a four-part series. Read part Two here.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Does Your Leadership Structure Impede the Progress of Discipleship?

At LifeWay Research, we are passionate about the state of the church. It is the focus of the vast majority of our work. One of the conclusions of an overwhelming amount of statistical evidence is that healthy churches are utilizing small groups.

Whether they call them cell groups, small groups, Sunday School classes, missional communities, or one of a number of other monikers, healthy churches are moving people move from sitting in rows to sitting in circles, in order that they might engage in community for ministry and mission.

If we take a good look at the state of our churches, however, we also see that there is a dearth of disciple-making. People are neither being discipled nor trained to make disciples, and much of that problem springs from a lack of small group community participation.

We surveyed North American churchgoers, and found: less than half sacrifice their own desires to provide for those in need; over one-third never exercise their spiritual gifts to serve God and others; and only 19 percent read their Bible every day.

Discipleship Deficit

So, statistically we see churches have a major discipleship deficit. Those who have realized this have tried to address it in various ways. For some, the answer is more exciting worship. For others, it is better programming or better preachers.

All those can be helpful things, but it can be deceptively hurtful when our focus becomes all about the weekend. A dynamic communicator and wonderful music can gather a crowd, but they often do not move people forward in discipleship.

In the book Transformational Discipleship, we specifically zeroed in on that particular deficit. What we found in our research is that one of the keys in the discipleship process is tight-knit community. Small groups are vital for creating disciples.

The Need for Community

There are at least 30 commands in the New Testament you cannot obey unless you are actively engaged in a local church. And you will not fulfill these “one another” commands by simply attending a church that is all about the weekend. You have to meaningfully engage in relationship-building with other believers who will walk through life with you, thereby fulfilling the one anothers together.

Because of all that we have learned in our research, small groups are now an assumed necessity, in my opinion. If you want to develop healthy disciples who make more healthy disciples, a healthy small group ministry is required.

But they are challenging, as is anything that requires deep, intimate relationships. So what makes them work. One of the most glaring issues we have seen in the creation of healthy small group culture within churches is leadership.

The Priest of Priests

I think one of the great challenges in the church today is that of “clergification.” Let me explain what I mean by that.

Most of the people reading this are Protestant, and one of the keys of the Reformation was the focus on what would eventually be called the priesthood of believers. This is a key theological position within Protestantism—we do not need a priest for access to God. (I do understand and appreciate that some traditions see the pastor as having important functions related to the the ordinances or sacraments, so I am talking in general about spiritual access to God and the importance of community.)

The problem is that while it is held broadly theologically, it is not necessarily held in practice. Many churches are set up as if some remarkably gifted, talented, or trained leader must teach and explain the Bible in order for the people to understand it.

Most churches have created an environment in which, if someone needs to understand the gospel, the leader has to be the one to explain it. We don’t hold theologically to the necessity of a priest, but we do functionally.

We act as though people cannot approach or understand God themselves.

I’m not unaware of that challenge of individualism, which is why I prefer the plural priesthood of believers. Yet, it is important to note that there is an undeniable tendency inherent in human nature to turn over our religious commitment or devotion or obligations, as we see them, to our religious hierarchies.

In effect, we create priests to carry out the religious rituals. This is the common trajectory for most churches, even in churches that are not theologically liturgical or sacramental. The acts of our faith become centralized on the clergy, hence, “clergification.”

I believe in biblical offices in the church. I believe that “pastor” is one of those offices, and some people might not agree, and some think there are more. Our ecclesiology determines those things, but we don’t have to agree on this to agree on the broader point.

Regardless of our conclusions on those matters of theology and practice, I believe that if we honestly assess the current situation we can (should) all agree that too much of the ministry and mission of the church has been centralized into the clergy. The result is hindering the life and ministry of our churches.

Discipleship and Clergy

Part of the discipleship deficit that exists in our churches is there because clergy has become the religious shopkeepers who provide the religious goods and services necessary to our faith. The people come to them as customers instead of co-laborers.

In order to engage small group community well and counteract the deficit we’ve created, we must work toward the de-clergification of the work of our churches and embrace the empowerment of a new breed of leaders.

Declergify

I’m not asking you to cast aside your leaders and leadership models on a whim. Also, I am definitely not, in this small article, encouraging you to change a well-thought theological view of your clergy. I’m encouraging you to not unintentionally clergify your ministry to the detriment of your service and discipleship.

I am simply encouraging you to prayerfully consider how your leadership structures might actually be impeding the ministry and disciple-making processes of your churches.

Consider how you might empower new leaders to begin to engage people within the church in small group community and how new leaders just might spring out of those groups, as well.

> Read more from Ed.

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.