May 30, 2011

Church Planting Wives: Our Most Important Ministry in the Church Plant

If you haven't already, you may want to read these posts first:
Series Intro Post: Why I Love Discipleship
Series Post #2: What is Discipleship?

The Most Important Ministry and Why It Is So
As a church planting or ministry wife, what's the most valuable ministry you can give your time and energy to within the church?

Teaching a Bible study?
Speaking to hundreds of women?
Hosting tons of events in your home?
Planning retreats and conferences for women?

I would suggest that all of those are beneficial and valuable, but that they are not the most valuable in terms of seeing the lives of women radically changed.

Although we grow in Bible studies, listening to sermons, and attending retreats where we sit under great speakers, we grow even more and even deeper in one-on-one discipleship relationships.

Discipleship. That is the most valuable ministry you can give your time and energy to. Here's why:

  • It's a primary calling and God blesses it. Jesus didn't say, "Go and start Bible studies" or "Go and plan ministry events," but "Go and make disciples." Our Bible studies and ministry programs and outreach events are good when they are the means by which we establish relationships that develop into discipleship. Reaching people with the gospel and helping them grow to maturity in the faith is the plan of God and when we carry out the plan, He guarantees to bless it.
  • It's multiplication rather than addition. Let’s suppose you are an evangelist and you want to add believers to the Kingdom. You make it your goal to win one person to Christ every day for a year for the next 16 years. Supposing your reach your goal, how many people will become a Christian after 16 years? I'll do the math for you: 5840 people. Now let’s suppose you practice multiplication. Instead of becoming an evangelist, you become a discipler. The discipler would win one person to Christ per year and spend the year discipling that person to maturity in Christ. At the end of the year, you encourage that person to go and do likewise. Every year from that point forward, you do the same thing. At the end of 2 years, the numbers aren’t that remarkable. At the end of 16 years, though, there would be 65,536 mature followers of Christ. At the same time, you have been sharpened by hundreds of other people.
  • It's what Christ did in His ministry. Jesus took three years to turn the world upside down. How did He structure His ministry to reach the most people (including us today) with His message? He didn't gather masses of people; in fact, He drove them away. He didn't write books. He didn't come in the age of YouTube or Twitter. Instead, he focused his ministry on twelve ordinary men, narrowing that focus even more to three. He ate with them, taught them through experiential lessons, and lived life with them. After he died, those twelve took the gospel to the ends of the earth. By doing life with the disciples, Jesus helped them internalize truth.
Discipleship (the process of growing to maturity in Christ) cannot be done through preaching or programs. It only happens in life-on-life relationships. So why don't we see it happening more in our churches?

Because it is hard work. We'd much rather it happen in large-group, low-commitment settings.
Because it is a process that is often messy and difficult.
Because most people don't feel capable of leading someone else along in the process.
Because if we challenge someone to grow, we have to be living it ourselves.
Because we feel like we can't because we weren't discipled ourselves.
Because we don't have it all together. 

But none of those are reasons should keep us from committing to God's great commission and missing out on some of the most incredible blessings of our lives!

I hope these posts have gotten you thinking about your own life. If so, I'd love to hear about it. In my next post, I'll tell you how you can know if you're ready to initiate a discipleship relationship and what in the world initiating this type of thing looks like (I know it sounds really scary and formal, but it's not at all). 

Before you go, however, I'd like to hear from you. 
What fears hold you back from initiating a discipleship relationship? 
And what do you think qualifies a person to disciple someone else?

You can read the next post in the series here.