Do you have the proper vision?
Bill Hull notes that, “Christians are not well-trained, largely because pastors have not worked out a means of helping people do what Jesus has told them they should.” Pastors often lack vision for making disciples and disciple-makers—and then, of course, they fail to pass this vision along to their people. Or they have some vision, but no workable plan to disciple them well. Or they have a plan, but find it difficult to encourage prospective disciples to travel the path.
In our ministry, we hope to stimulate this vision; lay out the structure for a plan; and provide specific details to help you formulate a plan. Without the vision, you won’t get started. Worse yet, you may be successful at “playing church,” but fail at discipleship and the Great Commission. A passion for disciple-making begins with faith in Jesus’ ministry model and obedience to a robust version of the Great Commission.
If you have the vision but not a workable plan, you’ll get frustrated with a few failed attempts and eventually walk away from it as “too difficult,” finding some way to rationalize the failure. Or maybe you have the vision and a plan, but you—or those who employ you—don’t have the patience to see it through. If you don’t have a plan, “it” can’t work—and you will revert back to old ministry models. Begin with the end in mind; make a plan; set goals; work the plan. As the old proverb goes: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Maybe you already have a plan in place—and a plan that multiplies effectively. But what are you multiplying? Church leaders often have plans that multiply milk. At some level, and with some audiences, milk is fine. But it necessarily limits the equipping—and the sort of multiplying—that will take place. This is insufficient to the calling of our Lord, the capacity of our people, and the opportunities before us.
Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger advise us to keep the plan simple, before reminding us that “simple” does not mean “easy.” The plan should be simple to understand and communicate. But implementing the plan, in the day-to-day lives of disciples-to-be, disciples, and disciple-makers-to-be will be complicated. Ministry and discipleship necessarily involve relationships—and relationships are often somewhere between complex and messy.
What you plant matters—and you will reap more than you sow (Galatians 6:7-10; Genesis 1:11). You will multiply what you plan and implement. So, if one wants to increase the number of horses in the barn, there must be a plan to move believers from milk to meat, from solid citizens to Kingdom workers, from sheep to colts and horses. What’s your plan to make disciples and disciple-makers?
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|D Eric Schansberg|
Eric Schansberg is Professor of Economics at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, IN. Eric has co-authored two books (with Kurt Sauder) and co-authored Thoroughly Equipped: A Disciple-Making Curriculum ("DC")-- a 21-month program for "thoroughly equipping" layleaders and Kingdom workers, with 2,200+ graduates at more than 50 churches. Eric is a lay-leader at Southeast Christian Church and organizes the DC portion of Kurt's Further Still Ministries. Eric has been married to Tonia since 1995 and is the father of four sons; he and Tonia are still trying to raise a few good men.
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