If discipleship is so important how does this impact ministers and how might it affect how we exercise ministry? How can we ensure we develop disciple making communities?
1. Live out your values. If whole life discipleship is important it should permeate your ministry. First, because all of us are disciples and ministers need to live out Christian discipleship themselves. Second, because what you value will find expression in your conversations, preaching, leadership choices etc.
2. Keep a kingdom focus in church life. It is too easy to make doing stuff in church the important thing; so we appeal for people to serve in church life with the implicit (and sometimes explicit) message that doing stuff in-house is more holy than work, family or community involvement. Attending worship gatherings, being part of a small group, giving and serving the church all matter but they are not God is in the global reconciliation business not the ‘best church’ competition.
3. Make pastoral interactions about discipleship rather than therapy, transformation rather than presence.
4. Leadership style. Ministry is not about controlling but enabling; not about being above / separate to others but in it together with them; called to engage in God’s mission together rather than calling people to engage in our agenda. We need to release and encourage people into the work of God.
5. If people’s primary struggles are about applying faith to life and understanding how to witness about faith in a culture where atheism appears to dominate we will target support in these areas. Not by providing all the answers but helping people make connections between Scripture and the big issues of life (poverty, justice, disasters), their identity in Christ and their personal ethics (money, sex, power) and their walk with God and sharing Jesus.
Now all I need to do is work out what this means in practice: easier said than done.