“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV)
We’re not called to make converts, but disciples. We’re supposed to make reproducers of reproducers. This post is basically a continuation or a satisfaction of some of my thoughts I began to unpack in my last post, Go.
I once met with someone from Agape, the European version of Campus Crusade For Christ, before I came home from Holland. I’d been doing evangelism on a college campus with this man close to my age in Rotterdam when I last lived there back in 2007. This brother was telling me their main focus and modus operandi was to teach people how to teach people. In other words, the disciples that are raised up and made, are able to go do the same as a result of being taught by example. This process of advancing the kingdom of God should continue to move and grow, without the continued involvement of the original ‘discipl-er’. I’d thought about that as I moved to Peru a year and a half later and began new ministry her.
I think a successful pastor or teacher is someone who can work themselves out of their job. This is backwards to the way the world operates, but in the kingdom of God we’re to make disciples of all nations. For me, a finger on my hand of my arm of doing this is podcasting and blogging, in case you haven’t noticed–being able to make an impact on people hopefully for the better towards them doing something without necessarily having direct contact with them. But that doesn’t mean I’m discipling those who are listening or reading.
Scattering Rather Than Gathering
I like listening to the teachings of a specific healing minister, but I don’t really quote from him or post him on my blog. Not because he’s a heretic or in error, but because his whole focus is on getting people to attend his meetings. In having people come to his church meetings and get healed there.
He doesn’t teach me how to BE a healing minister in my daily life in public, where I spend way more of my time than I do in church buildings. He doesn’t reproduce into me that “reproducing anointing”. He just teaches on how to BE healed, and in many ways the flock continue to be dependent on his anointing instead of operating in their own.
I don’t want to teach anyone to come to me with their sick ones. I want to teach and motivate them to lay hands on people themselves.
Some pastors and teachers don’t do their sheep any favors towards making them grow, but teach and preach in a way of maintaining an audience so they’ll always have an outlet for their teachings and sermons. And maybe the job security of a steady pay check the tithes and offerings bring in, but who really knows?
There are even some Bible colleges that exist not to raise up laborers, but to make pupils more intellectual with Bible knowledge who remain absolutely useless and socially retarded to the dying culture around them. And, I also wonder if some Bible colleges only exist to pay some teachers a salary?
The Kingdom of God or the Enterprise of Man?
Whose kingdom is being built? God’s or “the ministry’s”? The idol of ministry is something that needs to be toppled in some areas of the body of Christ, in favor of a more organic expression that actually advances GOD’s kingdom.
With that on my mind, I also used to get a little bit jealous of a few people I know who seemed to have doors open to them to preach more than me, but who I’d arrogantly perceive as being way less ready to minister than myself. As I mentioned in Church Leadership: Is 50 The New 30?, it seemed to be like they hadn’t had to ‘earn their stripes’ like I did. I realized eventually that sometimes my concern wasn’t always an arrogant attitude on my part, but a genuine observation that God was teaching me and showing me my hunger was more geared towards having riches and reward in heaven, not so much an “audience” or being vindicated of anything on earth.
Some people, that’s what they’re striving for, and that’s what they’ll get. Of course, hear me out–I’m not saying that’s how all are–of course not. I’m speaking of my own journey and motives.
Are You Afraid of Your Disciples Outperforming You?
Sometimes people who I’ve impacted in a mighty way seemed to have gone off and ‘outshined’ me. I’m excited about that instead of jealous or upset. Why? Because I know how the kingdom of God works, and I’m more interested in seeing and being involved in raising up long-term committed followers of Christ who will do the same.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building…Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:7-9, 12-15, ESV)
I am happy to water what others have planted. I am also happy to plant only to see someone else water people and build them up. I’m not building my own ministry empire. I want to build in such a way that HIS kingdom is built, and that it lasts the test of any flame. I want a reward from HIM, not man. Better to have something tangible that lasts in HIS kingdom, than to have my own little flock or my own church or some kind of ministry or non-profit organization. When thinking of the Great Commission, the point is not to go make converts. The point is to BUILD – and build something that will last for all eternity.
Gold, silver and precious stones are not only materials that are going to last the test of the flames, but they are the minerals that are hidden in the ground. Wood, hay and straw all grow above the surface, in the sight of man. Didn’t Jesus say something about doing things in secret, and being rewarded openly?
What’s represented here is the works that are birthed out of the secret place of intimacy. Things that are laboriously dug up. On that final day, many ministries that stand tall and mighty, and may look like they’re doing the right humanitarian effort, or might boast of thousands of people in a mega church, will be tested by fire, and only then will we know how productive they were from an eternal perspective. That’s not to say they were bad, but we’ll see where they were birthed from–man or the throne room.
What materials are you building with? Is what you’re building going to last for eternity?
I don’t need “followers”. I don’t have a necessarily large readership on my blog or a large audience on my podcast or a large crowd of people in any church building to hear me orate and pontificate and use words like ‘orate’ and ‘pontificate’. On that great day, the Scripture says we’re going to lay our crowns at His feet. I strive to have as many crowns and rewards on THAT day than any vindication of any kind in this life.
If I can impact you to impact others, I receive my credit for it in God’s economy.
We need to have that eternal mindset about all we do, and only then will be start fleshing out the Great Commission in a powerful and relevant way.