The second great truth from the Great Commission is that we are to be, and make, disciples. This means that the Church should feel like a training school, a barracks, a college, a training camp.
But while Jesus said make disciples, we often think church is about running church services and projects. This, I believe, will become one of the great changes in the coming Church Age.
The Church was designed to become a powerful training centre sending millions of glory carrying missionaries into every strata of society and into every corner of the earth.
As we learn to train, instead of living to run good church services, we will be raising powerful people – the result is the church will run itself!
Until churches become training centres, we find that people are often serving in the church for all sorts of reasons other than the one’s God intended. The evidence of this is found in churches that abound with little “power bases,” people who will not invite or take feedback, and volunteers and staff who take way too much personal approval in life from the things they do.
Instead of serving Jesus many are looking for approval through works. Instead of serving as worship, some are defining their worth from their roles. Instead of running after the goal of the great commission, we fall in love with our personal achievements.
One department in our church once said to me “If you touch this area, we will leave the church.” Of course, I HAD to touch that area, as such ungodly, unchecked behaviour showed the utter lack of depth in a personal relationship with God!
It’s as though some treat service like “Gollum” from The Hobbit, who loved that Ring! They grasp areas of responsibility gurgling “My Precious”, hugging onto the power like some demonic ring of significance! People build castles around roles, old cultures, rotas, responsibilities. And what that screams is that “I am no longer growing. I want to settle here, and use this to give me significance. My intimacy with God has plateaued and I am now using the work to give me approval.”
These power bases show that our churches lack disciples, sons and daughters. We’ve got everyone running Sunday services, projects and teams – but we’ve forgotten to raise disciples.
You know whether you’re raising sons or slaves, when you bring someone feedback to improve their area of service:
“Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.” Proverbs 9:8 says. Every time I have encouraged a person to improve, grow, update – the sons rise to it, while the mockers turn it into a thing of confrontation and conflict.
In our own church, as I have given up trying to run great Sunday’s (as my main concern) and instead built a training school at the heart of our church, I have found the dynamic power of the Kingdom has increased.
In all 6 sites of our multi-site church we have made it mandatory for all leaders to be in perpetual training, coaching and discipleship. I spend money on them. Give them books. Take them on trips. Give time to grow then and support them.
The transformation has been incredible, especially in the area of lessening the ungodly powerbases. Instead I have a leadership of excited, appreciated, growing sons and daughters.
You see, my greatest resource, my gold, is not our buildings, my strategies or our technical equipment – it is the people! My leaders are my greatest gold, my loudest vision statements, my most powerful examples and my perfect billboards for values and vision! God does not rest upon organisations, but upon people!
And so I live to invest in them. To wash their feet. To make their lives the best that can possibly be.
I don’t even want them to run church – I simply want to raise disciples, and trust that God will build His Church in the wake. Instead of growing a big church, I want to grow big people. It’s more powerful, less ego-driven and definitely less stressful!
Cabinet Re-Shuffles and Football Coaches
In discipleship cultures there are constant cabinet reshuffles, constant adjustments. Just like governments regularly shuffle the make-up of their leaders for maximum political effectiveness, we too should be adjusting for maximum power in a given season. To use another picture, it is as though I have become a football coach as a leader – my job is to train, support and constantly alter the team to the right roles at a given time.
The team that take a church from A to B, isn’t usually the same team that takes it from B to C. Moving around, seasonal roles, some taking rest, other taking more pressure – this is the world of the growing church. So you need disciples who love the teams goal, and are not serving just for their personal role. Flexibility is natural to disciples, but painful to power bases. Go after a flexible, discipleship culture with passion.
As we build churches of disciples, the feel of the church is going to change from an obsession with running great attractional services (though that will happen), to raising an army of brave warriors.
However you choose to do it – make church feel like a training college, a barracks, a school, and the powers of the Kingdom will begin to flood what you do!