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The Mandate: Making Disciples that Make Disciple-Makers
An Introduction: ‘Making Disciples That Make Disciple-Makers’
by Dave Buehring
A Four-Generation Model
Have you ever been “ruined for the ordinary” by something someone said? It may have been a passing comment, an unusual insight or something said directly that resonated deep within. I had one of those divine kind of occurrences that shaped my life, while flying between Los Angeles and Washington D.C. in April of 1980.
I was 20 years old at the time and living in Kona, Hawaii serving with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). My day-to-day responsibilities revolved around leading a youth ministry called “Acts 2.” I led a team of young adults that engaged in campus ministry and hosted weekend youth retreats and two-week intensive summer discipleship camps.
I was approached one day by one of our base leaders asking if I would be open to traveling a bit with YWAM’s founder Loren Cunningham. He had an extended trip coming up that would take him to Dallas, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. to train missionaries, host a television show, and participate in a large gathering in our nation’s capital. I was honored to be asked, and after prayer, embraced the opportunity!
On our flight from L.A. to D.C., Loren asked me what I thought my spiritual gifts were. At 20, I was still in the process of trying to figure that out myself! Because I had been in Kona for several years, Loren had the opportunity to observe me and our “Acts 2” team firsthand. With that in mind, he shared with me that he thought I had been given gifts of leadership and teaching. While discussing this, he said the following words to me:
“You know, Dave, it really isn’t important how big the organizations are that you will lead, or the size of the groups that you will teach. The way that God will measure the fruitfulness of your life is whether you have invested to the third and fourth generations.”
He went on to explain to me that he did not mean 40-year generations, but rather the kind of generations referred to in 2 Timothy 2:2 where (1) Paul discipled (2) Timothy who invested in (3) faithful men who then passed it on to (4) others. Loren had just envisioned me with a four-generation model of disciple-making!
Paul → Timothy → Faithful Men → Others
The aim is reproducing the life of Jesus so deliberately and thoroughly into another that they are transformed, enabling them to replicate the same in others. Thus begins the powerful pattern of multiplication!
Hearing these words at 40,000 feet “ruined me for the ordinary!” Since then, making disciples that make disciple-makers has been my measure of spiritual fruitfulness. I’m curious, what’s yours?
An Honest Evaluation
Henry Blackaby, author of Experiencing God, recently made the observation that “this is the least discipled generation I have ever seen.” Over the last few years, I’ve heard other “fathers of the faith” like Jack Hayford, Lloyd Ogilvie and John Perkins express their concerns about the lack of deliberate disciple-making and its consequences in the church and the world around us.
Biblically, disciple-making is the way Jesus grew and expanded the church in maturity while also adding to its ranks. The measure of fruitfulness of Jesus’ discipling is unmistakably clear in Acts: a sincere, united, powerful, ever-expanding, culture impacting, God fearing and God glorifying church! What godly leader alive doesn’t long to see and experience Jesus moving through His church like this in our day?!
Without deliberate disciple-making the church becomes ‘thin’ spiritually. It also loses its influence and voice within society as no one carries God’s ways into the various domains of culture. And, maybe most tragically, there is a huge vacuum and void of disciple-makers in our day for those who want to be discipled! Somehow this command and strategy of Jesus has been radically reduced – or even completely lost – in church life. Few and far between are pastors and leaders whose primary purpose and aim are making disciples that make disciple-makers.
To provide pastors, spiritual leaders and churches that we are walking alongside with an honest evaluation, I encourage them to consider the following three key questions:
1. Do you and the Christian community (church) you serve have a deliberate plan in place to obey the command of Jesus to make disciples?
2. Are your current members actively engaged in “making disciples that make disciple-makers?”
3. Do you have a biblically based, proven and practical resource to aid your members in the disciple-making process?
Stop now for just a moment and consider: what did you just discover about yourself and the Christian community you lead/are a part of through these three questions? Did you rush right past them or did you allow the full reality of your answers to sink in? In light of your responses are you currently cultivating a disciple-making community?
The Dozen Domains
The command of Jesus to make disciples is not limited to church life but rather extends to every domain of culture where followers of Jesus live and serve. God’s intentions are for people to be deeply valued and to have their needs met. Living and leading in the ways of God allows God to be glorified and people to be honored and served. More often than not in our society, leaders rule out of pride, selfishness and greed leaving people dishonored, discouraged and destroyed.
To see real change occur on this front, godly leaders serving within the various domains must be freshly envisioned and equipped to make disciples, mentor, and coach other godly leaders within their domains. Then, like Nehemiah and Esther, when strategic decisions need to be made, godly men and women who are in decision-making roles can reference and lead out of the ways of God. This allows the blessing, provision and protection of the Lord to flow to those they serve.
We believe that there are a dozen broad umbrellas – “Dozen Domains” – that represent various expressions of culture where leaders are appointed by God to serve. Each one of them has their own God-given and distinct strands of DNA that uniquely reveal the character of God and represent:
* Specialized abilities, gifts and callings to serve others
* Products, services and wisdom to bless others
* God-given influence shape and lead others
* Relationships to enjoy and to team with others
* Strategic missions to be accomplished for others
The Dozen Domains are made up of:
* Family & Social Services
* Church & Missions
* Education & Students
* Electronic/Print/Digital Media
* Business & Commerce
* Science & Technology
* Non-Profits & Service Organizations
Reproducing the Character, Ways and Mission of Jesus
Regardless of what domain we are called to serve, as followers of Jesus we have been commanded to “make disciples”: reproducing the character, ways and mission of Jesus in those around us expecting them to multiply the same within others. As followers of Jesus, disciple-making must always be our aim and end. After all, it is what Jesus has specifically commanded us to do.
Along with multiplying the character and mission of Jesus, we must also deliberately reproduce the ways of God in others. The ‘ways of God’ can be defined as “God’s path on a matter”. for example: His path revealed in Scripture on how we are to relate to one another, His path revealed in Scripture regarding how we launch ministries or businesses, His path revealed in Scripture on what it looks like to lead as a godly leader, etc. His ways were the pursuit and plumb line of His leaders in Scriptures, e.g. Moses (Ex.33:13-14), Joshua (Jo.22:5), David (Ps.25:4-5) and Micah (Mi.4:2). They are true, dependable and apply eternally to every people and culture. Not only are His ways wonderful but they actually work!
I have found over the years that discipling people in the ways of God may be expressed in various ways, especially within the marketplace. This includes the methods of mentoring and coaching. Mentoring allows one to intentionally pass onto another what they have learned and experienced. Coaching points people towards insights and solutions by navigating them through a series of key questions.
Disciple-making, mentoring and coaching have the following in common: (1) deliberateness in walking alongside others via a relational approach; (2) guiding and equipping that leads to discovery and development towards greater health and more effective service; and (3) sowing seeds of multiplication, enabling others to reproduce in others what they have received.
As followers of Jesus, we have been commissioned to make disciples. Many who lead outside the Church & Missions domain effectively use mentoring and coaching to guide and equip others within their domains in truth and godly principles for life and leadership. We must embrace one another’s gifts, emphases and place of calling to see to it that God’s ways are passed on, applied and multiplied!
Teach – Demonstrate – Replicate
I am often asked about whom one should disciple or invest in. Brand new believers must be discipled in the basics right away. That is a must! Beyond that, a good starting point, as Jesus demonstrated in Luke 6:12-16, is to seek the Lord about it in prayer. I have found over the years that to the degree I have relationship with someone, to that same degree I have authority to speak into their life. In light of this, consider who has the Lord provided a natural heart link with and who receives what you give with weight. I have learned through experience that those with qualities of faithfulness, availability, servant-heartedness and teachability seem to go deepest and farthest when it comes to reproducing what they have received.
A healthy and biblical approach to disciple-making is to teach – demonstrate – replicate. First, teach them all about it, grounding them biblically and making sure they fully understand. Next, demonstrate it for them – show them – so they can see what it looks like for themselves. Then, ask them to replicate it for you, providing you an opportunity to “coach them up” right on the spot. Teach – demonstrate – replicate.
This has worked for me in family life, coaching football, developing leaders, and in making disciples. I’d encourage you to give it a try.
The Aim of “The Mandate” Booklet
This booklet is a collection of short essays by thirty-plus friends of mine, all who are godly men and women committed to making disciples where God has appointed them to serve.
You’ll find that it is divided into three sections:
* Perspectives on Disciple-Making – insights and challenges from spiritual leaders representing the Body of Christ;
* Disciple-Making within The Dozen Domains – glimpses of how disciple-making can be approached and applied within the various domains of culture
Our aim with this booklet is three-fold:
1. We believe the role of “disciple-maker” is a multiplying mission belonging to every follower of Jesus. Our hope and prayer is that this booklet – with writings from leaders representing various denominations, domains and organizations – will freshly envision you to align your life and leadership to obey the command of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20 to “make disciples.”
2. We believe that we can accomplish something together that is much greater than anyone of us could achieve on our own – a reviving of deliberate disciple-making, mentoring and coaching in the ways of God. We’d invite you to prayerfully consider joining our growing network of NetDMC teammates in our decade-long 2020 Vision. See the back of this booklet to learn more about NetDMC.
3. We believe that the godly men and women represented in this booklet offer practical insights, seasoned wisdom and proven resources to serve in cultivating disciple-making communities and/or discipling leaders in the ways of God. We commend them to you.
To read the complete booklet visit The Mandate: Making Disciples that Make Disciple-Makers
~ Dave Buehring has served for over three decades as a missionary, pastor, teacher, and disciple-maker. He is the Founder and Team Leader of the Lionshare Leadership Group, the facilitator of NetDMC and author of ‘A Discipleship Journey’. Website: www.lionshare.org.
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