99 – Reprint of ALM 34 “Recovering a Vision for Making Disciples”
Before we begin the Saturday morning sessions of our Success That Matters™ Seminar, I lead a bonus session for men interested in building an effective men’s ministry in the local church.
Someone will usually ask, “How can I get my pastor excited about these ideas?”
“That’s easy,” I say. “Your pastor is already excited about these ideas. He’s been talking about them for years. All I’m doing is repeating what he has been saying all along. It’s not our pastors who need to catch the vision it’s us!”
But then someone will invariably say, “I’ve tried to get my pastor interested in men’s ministry, but it just never seems to go anywhere.”
Then I must add, “You will never be able to get a dynamic men’s ministry going in your church until your pastor has grasped two things about the purpose of his ministry. First, he must have a vision for making disciples. Second, he must believe that his vocation is to prepare God’s people for works of service.”
THE “VISION” FOR MAKING DISCIPLES
The purpose of the church (that’s us) “why” we exist is to glorify God. The mission of the church “what” we do is to make disciples.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20,NIV).
Do you ever tire of hearing about the Great Commission? May it never be. If this doesn’t excite you, go to your God and cry out for Him to break your heart for the lost. If you cannot weep for them, weep for yourself. Fast. Pray. Plead for God to break your heart to love the things He loves.
THE “CALLING” TO EQUIP GOD’S PEOPLE
If the mission of the church “what” we do is to make disciples, then “how” do we do it? In The Living Bible we see that some of us have been given “special abilities.”
Some of us have been given special ability as apostles; to others he has given the gift of being able to preach well; some have special ability in winning people to Christ, helping them to trust him as their Savior; still others have a gift for caring for God’s people as a shepherd does his sheep, leading and teaching them in the ways of God (Ephesians 4:11).
Are you one of these leadership people? If so, the essential question is “why?” why would God give you such special ability? We find the answer in the very next verse.
To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:12, NIV).
Or, if we stick to The Living Bible. . .
Why is it that he gives us these special abilities to do certain things best? It is that God’s people will be equipped to do better work for him, building up the Church, the body of Christ, to a position of strength and maturity.
If you have been endowed with special abilities from God, do you also understand why He gave them to you? The pastor is not the minister. The pastor is the pastor. It’s the sheep who are the ministers. The pastor’s “calling” or vocation is to equip these sheep so they also can do what they are “called” to do.
EVERY MAN HAS A “TASK”
When we study the life of Paul we see a man who endured incredible hardships and rejection. In actuality, we pass through the same fires. Paul’s riot in Ephesus is our family feud. The plots to do away with Paul are like the intrigues of men who would steal our credit, our promotion, or our client. The all night preaching of Paul is the all-nighter we pull to meet a production deadline.
The real question about Paul is not “what” he did, but “why”? Why would he go through all those troubles? (And why should we?) Everything makes sense when we understand his calling.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24).
Every man has a “task” (diakonia: service, ministry). The Bible says there are different kinds of “tasks” (1 Corinthians 12:5) but we are all “called” to use them to the same end making disciples.
Some, like Paul, evangelize; others set up the chairs where the people sit to listen. Some teach God’s people how to walk rightly with their Lord; others invite them to come. Some reach out among the hurting; others give the money to do the reaching or phone to set up the appointments.
What is your “task”, ministry, and service to God? Have you been given “special abilities” in starting things, winning men to faith, leadership, shepherding, teaching, or even preaching?
Or are your spiritual gifts and calling more in areas of service, administration, and non-speaking roles?
KEEPING THE ENDS AND MEANS CLEAR
As we walk along it is easy to look at the ground immediately in front of us and forget not only where we are headed, but why.
The works we do are important to God. But they are means, not ends. Our “activity” is not our “purpose.” What we do is only important if we remember why.
Paul was able to remain so passionate, so focused, so intentional, so urgent, so singular in purpose because he understood his task. Everything Paul did, he did in light of his calling. How about you?
If you are a pastor, remember. Remember why. The calling is to make disciples and equip them for service.
If you are a layman, remember. Remember why. The calling is to do good works in a way that draws men to Christ. The Message says, “Curiosity about Paul developed into reverence for the Master Jesus” (Acts 19:17).Let our prayer be, “Lord, let curiosity about me develop into reverence for the Master Jesus.”
Why we exist: To glorify God
What we do: Make disciples
How we do it: Fulfill our calling or “task”
For Pastors: To make disciples and equip them for service
For Laymen: To do works of service to make more disciples
When we comfort people in their sorrows, teach them theology, invite them to a Bible study, help them solve a problem, or simply love on them; we must never lose sight of why we do what we do.
Pastors: If an outside “auditor” came in and reviewed your ministry, how would he rate you on these counts:
He has a vision for making disciples
He has a plan for making disciples
He has made _____ disciples
He understands his calling to equip God’s people for service
He has a plan to equip God’s people for service
He has equipped _____ people for service
As a result of this audit what would you like to do differently?
Laymen: How would an outside auditor rate how you have responded to your pastor’s ministry in your life?
He understands the purpose and mission of the church
He has honored and responded to his pastor’s leadership
He understands that the pastor is the pastor and he is the minister
He has allowed the pastor to equip him for service
He is serving Christ at _____% of faithfulness
As a result of this audit what would you like to do differently?
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley helps men to think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to be equipped for a larger impact on the world.
© 1997. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.