Here are some of the many ways this week you can get into the hearts and lives of others and bless them eternally.
Some of my favorite spiritual lifters have been “historical mentors.” We need mighty men and women as role models. Sometimes they are in short supply around us. Biography can warn, instruct, inspire, sharpen our vision and encourage a higher walk with Christ.
Tragically, pastors or peers are mentoring few men. Why? Read Part 1 here.
What advice does Moore have for a pastor who wants to reach men? A starting point is to realize that men need more than preaching. They want to see something that really works — practical Christianity lived out.
“We see heaven more clearly through the prism of tears.” 1 Our family experienced the sudden homegoing, on October 10, 1993, of our 28-year-old handicapped son, Paul. In a personal desire to know more specifically of our own son's journey and experiences in heaven, we share with you some of the things we've discovered in personal Bible study.
Jesus reminded the Sadducees of these heart-warming facts concerning life after death: “Now about the dead rising — have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” 2
Those who have died in Christ are alive in heaven — a life totally beyond anything we have experienced on earth. The Apostle Paul, contrasting this existence to heaven, writes expectantly, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” and “(W)e would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 3
Paul probably had a near-death experience when he was stoned at Lystra. 4 His letters are peppered with a union of desires: between living here, and being in the third heaven with Christ. In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, he writes of a startling experience. In summary, the experience of dying or near-death was such that he couldn't tell the difference between being alive or dead (see verse 2 ). His faculties — his ability to think, feel, respond — were evidently the same. He himself was there as a “person.” Then, the Apostle describes what was most acutely affected, in a sensory way: his hearing. “He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” (verse 4). Then, because of the “surpassingly great revelations” he experienced, God sent a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming proud (verse 7).
Because of the overwhelming impact of that vision-experience, Paul could write with sober honesty to new believers at Philippi. He seems torn between the ministry with needy believers and the greater adventure of being with Christ in heaven: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am going to go on living in the body this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” 5
It is better by far because “now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 6 Imagine an unlimited mind, seeing everything in perfect harmonious balance and total depth. Knowing all on any subject. That is the mind of those in heaven.
What Paul experienced was so gripping and addictive, so mind-altering in power, he might never have given time to nurture and disciple the converts. Did he begin going place to place, to tell crowds about his visions? Not at all. Paul goes on to express to the Philippians the reason God kept him on earth: “. . . I know that I will remain and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith” (Philippians 1:25, NIV ). Other than sharing the Gospel of Christ, the maturation of those he had won was Paul's main reason for living on earth. Is it ours?
Those we love who have gone before us are experiencing a heaven BEYOND IMAGINATION. They are consummate individuals, without the limitations of a human body. They are light-fused, possibly like the body of Jesus in Matthew 17:2.
Heaven is “of pure gold, as clear as glass.” Words limit the reality of heaven to a height just above “Disneyworld,” — insignificant, filmy sight into heavenly glory. Yet scripture talks not only of the sights of heaven, but also of the SOUNDS!
It details the sound of music from harps, amplified, for ears without limitation. Picture the effect of resonate decibels of praise by a synergy of angelic beings. And millions of saints swell to harmonies beyond human vocal range and power — seven, eight, ten octaves and more of perfect pitch!
Link together the combined music imaginations of Handel, Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, and a hundred other composers. They are as middle C, a “Johnny-one-note,” compared to the infinite heavenly sounds. Hear the saints singing the “song of the Lamb.” Then listen to the Lamb of God as He sings. His voice throbs in each heavenly body, in a euphonious and symphonic intermingling of waters, a perfection of unlimited expression. 7
What will we LOOK like . . . short, tall, like a kid (for those dying young), or older looking? The Bible isn't specific. God does say something exciting. We shall have a body like the Lord Jesus. Remember His appearing in the upper room suddenly, with the door locked? He could be anywhere, anytime, at once, beyond the molecules of time. He talked, encouraged, asked Thomas to touch Him. He is flesh and bones, without the earth-limiting blood that mortals have. Recall his cooking and eating fish with the disciples by the seashore after His resurrection from the dead? “What we will be has not been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 8
On earth we only have the body we know. It is our cell. We are inside it, linked in time to it. At the moment of physical death, angels bring us into the presence of our Savior “TO BEHOLD HIS GLORY.” 9 All who have died in Christ now have a heavenly body.
A heavenly body? “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling . . . for while we are in this tent [our human body] we groan and are burdened . . . to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.” This is not the dwelling Jesus has been building in John 14:2, 3, but our own new spirit-body. “So that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” 10 At the resurrection there is a fusion of light with dust, and a glorified body is ours through the ages. Here, we are in a shadowland existence; there, it is life!
“All mankinde is of one Author, and is one volume; when one Man dies, one Chapter is not torne out of the booke, but translated into a better language; and every Chapter must be so translated. God emploies several translators: some peeces are translated by age, some by sicknesse, some by warre, some by justice; but Gods hand is in every translation; and his hand shall binde up all our scattered leaves againe, for that Librarie where every booke shall lie open to one another.“ — John Donne (1573-1631) 11
- Robert McQuilken, Leadership, Fall 1993, p. 128.
- Mark 12:26-27, New International Version.
- 1 Corinthians 13:12; 2 Corinthians 5:8, NIV.
- Acts 14:19-20.
- Philippians 1:21-23.
- 1 Corinthians 13:12.
- See Revelation 21:18; 14:2-3; 15:2; 1:15; & Zephaniah 3:17.
- 1 John 3:2-3.
- Luke 16:22; John 17:24.
- 2 Corinthians 5:2-4.
- As quoted by Joseph Bayly, The View from a Hearse (Elgin, Ill.: David C. Cook, 1969), p.9.
I suggest these “Five P's ” — PRINCIPLES, PROGRESS, PROBLEMS, PRAYER, the PRACTICAL — as building-blocks, with which the “coach” or mentor may effectively design his interpersonal time with a mentoree.
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a kick in the pants.” Richard Tyre used this definition, describing mentoring through the eyes of a mentor. 1
A layman from the church which I pastored was helping me fix a broken water pump for our air conditioner. Jim turned on the electricity and water shot out, squirting all over me. His face showed shock.
What would I say or do? I began to laugh, wiping my face and shaking water off!
He then relaxed. Later Jim told me that that experience with the water was the first time he had felt close to me. We can't build leaders long-distance.
Jesus' private time with His disciples — away from the crowds (the pulpit and public times) — was the critical mentoring foundation for all that he did publicly. Pastors, too, need to get out of the pulpit to do mentoring. They must network into the life and fabric of the ones they mentor.
The term “mentor” is linked with a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. It was used about Odysseus's trusted counselor, in ancient Greek Mythology, where Athena became the guardian and teacher of Telemachus. Most major businesses, our armed forces officer's training, plus Christian groups and churches now use “mentor” to represent a special relational process.
DEFINITIONS OF MENTORING
- “It is a dynamic relationship of trust in which one person enables another to maximize the grace of God in his/her life and service.” — John Mallison 2
- “Mentoring is a relationship through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.” — Robert Clinton 3
- “An agreed-upon exchange between two men, a more experienced man and a less experienced man, developing the less experienced to his maximum potential in Christ and empowering him with abilities to meet a need, achieve a goal, or to grow through a situation.” — Murray and Owen. 4
The Bible is chock-full of excellent examples of mentoring relationships. See Moses learning from his father-in-law, Jethro ( Exodus 18 ). Follow Moses mentoring Joshua ( Deuteronomy 3:28 ). It's amazing to see spiritually hungry Elisha run past the other prophets to get to Elijah's side ( 2 Kings 2:1-16 ), passionate about being mentored. Follow David's growth as his mentor-peer, Jonathan, introduces him to political leadership. Other kings were mentored by their religious teachers.
In the New Testament our supreme model, Jesus Christ, mentored the Twelve and the Three. One of the three, Peter, in turn had some type of mentoring relationship with Barnabas ( Galatians 2:11-13 ). Barnabas then imitated the method that he'd benefited from, by mentoring Mark and Paul. Through Paul, God erected a chain of Spirit-filled, world-changing mentors and church planters.
Let's look at five important mentoring elements involved in building a spiritual leader from scratch. It will cost you some personal time. We shoot for biblical “koinonia.” The Greek word “koinonia,” translated fellowship, means “to share or to partner, to invest in.” Amazingly, in the heart of an apprentice your time, words, attitudes, and actions are etched on their memory. They will quote you for years! Little is much when God is in it.
We will use these ideas: Principles & Promises, Progress, Problems, Prayer, and Practical ministry. These five elements are present in most meeting times or weeks that I'm investing in an individual. But their order may vary. For instance, perhaps someone needs help with a problem, or is yearning to pray over a need. That would be my first (but perhaps not my only) priority for our time together. Other times the mentoree has a Bible question, and one goes from there. Let's take a more in-depth look at these five mentoring elements, and how they allow us “to share and invest in” others.
PRINCIPLES & PROMISES
(Colossians 2:2b, 3; Colossians 3:16; 2 Peter 1:4)
Ultimately the mentor and mentoree must have a structured time together in God's Word. We need a base and a focal point of agreement. John communicates Jesus' coming in this way: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). Jesus perfectly lived out the Word. He fully revealed God's will through His life and words. Answers to questions, solutions to problems, standards for living — these all flow from Scripture. The foundation of any growing mentoring relationship will involve sharing and living the Word of God.
Joe was an appliance repairman for General Electric. I was leading a men's group at 6 a.m., teaching laymen how to feed their souls doing inductive Bible study. We invited Joe to join us. As Joe gingerly took “baby steps,” writing insights on 10 verses of Scripture, he grew to studying entire books of the New Testament. Joe's mind was stimulated, regulated to think, evaluate, and discern.
Everything improved in Joe's personal life. He was promoted at his job, then promoted again — and again! Calling me from a new executive position in New York, Joe, the ex-refrigerator repair guy, excitedly told me that when he learned to study the Bible for himself, everything began to change. It was the reason he'd been promoted to corporate leadership. Through Scripture memory, inductive Bible study, and meditation, anyone may jump from pew-sitting to “flight training.” He enters a new dimension, where he experiences God in every layer of his life. God's word applied had changed Joe's whole life!
I once asked a question of author-professor Dr. Howard Hendricks. “What is the first thing you try to do with the new convert?” Howard answered, “First thing I do, crack out of the box, is get a man into Bible study.” The Bible is a book of principles to live by, and promises to believe and claim. Through Scripture, God's fingers will touch every part of our lives. The mentor needs to model what he wants the mentoree to do and be. In the area of “Principles” we are to be pacesetters, leading the mentoree into Bible study.
When I meet for mentoring with a guy, I always want to know where he is in the Scriptures. Can he feed himself? Is he memorizing the Word? Does he know how to hear from God every day as he reads and studies the Bible? One characteristic that separates a baby from a teen-ager is the ability to feed oneself.
An easier method for an apprentice is to use a simple, question-answer type Bible study. Among the practical studies available is First Steps, which centers on John's Gospel. Then, you might move to the more demanding Living God's Word. 5 Another simple discipline involves teaching the mentee to take and review Sunday's sermon notes. In addition, when you pass on a few fun methods of Bible reading, it will push the mentee into new discovery and delight as he/she reads the Word. A good mentor helps plug his friend immediately into the Holy Spirit's master life-changer, the Scripture.
(Hebrews 3:13; Ecclesiastes 8:11)
People do what we inspect, rather than what we expect. All of us need to be accountable. There is no biblical “lone wolf” Christianity! Howard Hendricks cautions, “A person trying to make it on his own is an accident waiting to happen.” John Wesley said, “The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion — watch over one another in love.” 6 Do not attempt your Christian journey alone. “Find companions who see you as a pilgrim, even a straggler, and not as a guide. The Old Testament tells the story of the people of God. Jesus' parables unveil the kingdom; the epistles went primarily to communities of faith. We have little guidance on how to live as a follower alone, because God never intended it.” 7 We are to care enough to lovingly challenge the mentoree and help him be faithful to his commitment to the spiritual disciplines. One must show more patience, however, with a new convert. And with each person, I suggest lovingly, using much patience and encouragement.
When I met men early in the morning for an agreed-on Bible study, I asked each man, “Did you do the study?” Our rule was, those who hadn't written down the study couldn't comment on the passage. I recall the shocked faces of the men who had done nothing, surprised to be checked on their “homework” for the first time ever! Sadly, at church they had never before been held accountable for anything!
Some kind of discipline is at the root of all mentoring; that is, if the mentoring process has true disciple-building as it's goal. God commands us to “Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened from the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13). To lovingly confront and ask for faithfulness in biblically-based and agreed-upon assignments — that lifts a sagging relationship, without focus, to one of strong growth-potential. On the other hand, a “no check-up” relationship blunts people from conviction and spiritual reproduction.
Other forms of mentoring, however, may require less focus, for short-time help. My goal is not only to help the person where he is. If he is open, I want to share ALL that I can that will challenge him to a greater love for Jesus, and a willingness to follow Christ anywhere.
Next, In Part 2: PROBLEMS, PRAYER, & PRACTICAL MINISTRY
1 Richard Tyre.
2 John Mallison, Mentoring to Develop Disciples and Leaders, Scripture Union, NSW, Australia, p. 34.
3 Clinton, Robert, Connecting, NavPress.
4 Murray and Owen.
5 Moore, Waylon B., Living God's Word, LifeWay Publishers (Nashville, TN), 1998. First Steps and Living God's Word may both be ordered from Amazon.com. Order page to come. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
6 Mallison, John, Mentoring to Develop Disciples and Leaders, p. 34.
7 Philip Yancey, “My to-be list: What I Learned from a 50-Year Spiritual Check-Up,” Ministry, September, 2000, (Napa, CA: Pacific Press), p. 11.
The world's a better place because a German monk named Martin Luther did not say, “I don't do doors.”
Eight simple suggestions that will aid you to successfully memorize and recall hundreds of verses almost instantly.
Millions of new “babes” in Christ never grow up. Why not?
How can one describe what a lack of forgiveness looks like? Think of running a race with a tumor inside of you, grabbing the blood and oxygen you need to win.
A careful reading of Scripture will demonstrate how much of our faith is paradoxical, and how Jesus emerges as the chief proponent of such a paradoxical faith.
“Follow-up is the greatest problem facing Southern Baptists,” said a president of the Southern Baptist Convention. “ We're getting more and more of less and less,” a denominational executive told me at a large gathering.
Around the world, the explosion of newly-born believers is without parallel in the past 16 centuries. The loss of these being won, to active growth through the local church, has also reached record proportions. About one convert in nine is conserved in Puerto Rico, one in five in Brazil, one in three in the U.S.A., reported missionaries. The need for radical reexamination of present methods, and a new commitment to New Testament basics, must become the burden of all who win new believers.
Why are we losing so many from the church and Christ's Great Commission? Certainly cults grab all they can; Satan works to destroy the ministry of God's Word. The vacuum of trained church leadership leaves thousands of small groups of believers without a needed model and shepherding care. Ignorance of Scripture, blindness on the part of sincere church leadership, unwillingness to pay the price of raising spiritual children, busyness and activity which are not geared to meeting the special needs of converts — all mean terrible losses to the future ranks of those evangelizing and growth of new churches and mission points, we see factors which return us again to the basics of follow-up from the New Testament.
Let us look at four of these which the Apostle Paul employed effectively in a totally negative environment.
Follow-up begins only after effective evangelism. The most fertile soil for rich follow-up is an evangelistic environment to train new believers. With many varieties of good materials available (see *), follow-up is still best done by someONE rather than by someTHING. A summary of Acts and 1 Thessalonians reveals that all effective follow-up is personal.
Paul followed up by personal contact. His missionary journeys were two-fold; to evangelize and then to confirm new believers (See Acts 15:36 ). Fellowship was not a once-a-week experience. Daily times of sharing, praising, studying, and witnessing were common (See Acts 2:42-47; 20:20 ). The fellowship gap between Sundays was just not there in the 1st Century, as it is today. Paul spent days, even months, in nurturing converts. He knew a healthy birth was essential for consistent growth. He was willing to give more than the Gospel; his very life was available to love, feed, protect, and train new believers (see 1 Thessalonians 2:8 ).
“Decision is five percent; following up the decision is the 95 percent,” teaches Billy Graham, international evangelist. As a loving parent, Paul recognized that God has given each spiritual child to a spiritual parent. He called himself both a nursing mother and an exhorting father (see 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11 ). Thus, the raising up of parent-hearted believers is a major goal for any pastor who would see his children's children. Paul was a living example, and so those he won, won others (see 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 ). The “followers” of verse six became the “models” (molds, patterns) in verse seven, and the disciples multiplied (See v. 8-10 ).
Application Today: Personal Training
Assign a growing believer to visit and teach each person accepting Christ. Individual attention, encouragement, and spiritual help within 48 hours is worth more than days of contact (if you can find them) weeks later. A warm Sunday School class environment, continuous encouragement, and private teaching link the new baby with his spiritual family in the local church.
Paul followed up by personally training others. Satan kept Paul from returning to Thessalonica (see 1 Thessalonians 2:17, 18 ). God's secret weapon to thwart this vicious attack by the Enemy was a trained man, Timothy (see 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 ). The lives of Titus, Timothy, Epaphras, and a host of others are woven in the texture of the Acts and the Epistles. When Paul could not go to Corinth, Titus was sent to encourage and teach. Timothy went to Thessalonica. Summarizing his training method in Philippians 2:19-24, Paul stresses that Timothy was “with him” in the ministry. It takes time to grow spiritual children into multiplying adults. The “with him” principle which Jesus used, spending three concentrated years, 14 to 16 hours a day with the disciples (see Mark 3:14 ), has been substituted by many for as large a group as we can find to listen one day a week. Soul winning is ultimately personal. Billy Graham illustrates the preaching of the Gospel as getting the soccer ball to the goal (the heart); the forward (counselor) directs it in for the score.
The Sharpening Process
“Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). This sharpening process of life-investment with others over a period of time is today called “discipling;” but it was one of Paul's most important follow-up methods. In a three-year summary of evangelism and follow-up, Acts 20:16-36 records the astounding, varied methods of life-exposure Paul was led to employ with these new believers: “with you at all seasons,” “showed you and taught you publicly, and from house to house,” “neither count I my life dear unto myself,” “by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears,” “I have showed you all things,” etcetera. Marking future generations with the Gospel starts with our daily life-modeling before new believers, now.
Aristotle said, “The true nature of anything is in what it can become.” Our vision for individuals and their potential for becoming “laborers for the harvest” is in proportion to the time we are nowinvesting in them. In Egypt 66 years ago, a missionary named Oswald Chambers said about our tendancy to be blind to the potential of a man, “The great paralysis of the heart is unbelief. Immediately I view anything as inevitable about any human being. I am an unbeliever.”
Application Today: Effective Follow-up
Effective follow-up is best done by those who have experienced a loving, caring relationship with another stronger believer. Anytime you have trained someone to do what you can, and they do it, you've doubled your ministry potential. Counsel immediately all who make decisions. Then introduce the convert to habits of Quiet Time, Scripture Memory, Bible Study, and the application of Scripture to the life. The convert blooms. Taking one or two new believers with a trained pastor or soulwinner into a number of witnessing ministries is far better training than all the sermons we share on the “need for Christians to visit.” We do with others what's been done with us that works!
Paul followed up also by personal correspondence. The New Testament is a series of follow-up letters by Paul, Peter and John. These letters encouraged, taught, shared problem solutions, and gave lifting koinonia to lonely new believers.
Application Today: Being Personal & Belief For Growth
The pastor can prepare a basic, encouraging letter to go to all new members; it should instruct, as well as welcome. Enclosing a tract or portion of Scripture has been used of God. By loaning new members a cassette recorder, with tapes of selected sermons by the pastor on assurance, prayer, Bible study, and victory over sin, growth between Sundays can be solidified.
Paul followed up by personal intercession. He begins every letter with a prayer (except the letter to Galatia). In Romans 16, Paul lists 28 families and individuals: his prayer list for the church at Rome? Is each new convert in your church assigned to a stronger believer for prayer? In Ephesians 3:14, Paul confesses, “for this cause I bow my knees.” Why is Paul on his knees? “That ye faint not” is his burden for believers. Is this why so many drop out in the race, no one is praying, believing God for their growth?
Application Today: Instructing to Pray — ALWAYS
Carry a list of your membership, pray for them, dividing the names throughout the week. Memorize the prayers of Paul. God has preserved them for us, as examples of what He desires in our lives. Pray these individualized prayers for members of your family, a wife or child. Teach your membership to pray one of these prayers for new believers. The following references may help: Ephesians 1:16-20, 3:16-20; Philippiians 1:8-11; Colossians 1:9-12; 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12. Note Pauls's requests that others pray for him. Ephesians 6:18, 19; Colossians 4:2-4; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-3. Members should be led to pray verses for their pastor, Sunday School teacher, deacons. Lead older Christians to be praying one of Paul's example prayers as someone is baptised. List new members in church communications as “For Prayer,” and their names. Praying daily for each convert will dramatically increase conservation results. Specific prayer is possible only by being with the convert to know their needs and temptations. “The greatest test of faith is trusting God for people,” said Dawson Trotman. The warfare of intercession begins when the Christian's armor is in place. Growing believers is the fruit as we “pray always” ( Ephesians 6:13-19 ).
And so, follow-up is best done immediately, by someone personally, modeling Christ, over a period of weeks, using the Scriptures in a loving, warm evangelistic environment, with bold crying to God!
* MATERIALS, available for ordering:
Multiplying Disciples: the New Testament Method for Church Growth, Waylon B. Moore, published in English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish.
New Testament Follow-up, (Out of Print) Waylon B. Moore, published in English, Portuguese (Integracao), Chinese, Korean.
“I'm yelling at the top of my lungs, I'm so full of answered prayers” (Psalm 13: 6 - The Message).
How may I begin mentoring, some have asked? Do we start with a booklet or formal teaching materials? Do I help people with their problems and needs? Yes, and a few steps more
Our time together involved five areas:
- principles and promises from the Word
- progress and check-up
- problem solving
- practical ministry together
"In a day of tarnished leaders, fallen heroes, busy parents, frantic coaches, arrogant authority figures, and egg-headed geniuses, we need mentors like never before — we need guides, not gods. Approachable, caring souls who help us negotiate our way through life's labyrinth." - Chuck Swindoll
Typical church: discouraged staff, frazzled youth workers, tired deacons, and overcrowded nurseries. “Give us Spirit-filled workers!” is the cry. On the local church level, what that often means is: “Please, Lord, bring us a ‘soldout,’ Sunday-School teaching saint from Calvary Big Church in the next state.” However, few people join our churches with well-developed leadership qualities.
The leadership gap is even more profound overseas than in North America. Not only are there fewer dedicated church members, but there is also a dearth of pastors to shepherd them. Let me share statistics from three countries that are desperate for pastors. In Brazil thousands are being saved daily. But, it is estimated that there are over 10,000 missions and preaching points without a pastor or staff.
In Germany, there are more pastors retiring each year than the total number of men graduating from their seminaries in two years. Also, close to 200 missions and preaching points are pastorless already. In Portugal, just three men graduated from the Baptist seminary this year (1997).
This shortage of true “ministers” — be they lay or clergy — is an ageless dilemma. Jesus entered a world that had never seen a Bible, read a tract, or heard Christian radio. His statement is so radical that it sounds almost impossible: “Look on the fields, for they are white already unto harvest” (John 4:35). Fields ready to be harvested, without Christian literature, strategically-planted churches, or decades of Gospel seed-sowing? Yes! That's wonderful news. However, Jesus proclaimed a well-established problem: “‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few ’” (Matthew 9:37, NIV).
Where can we get church leaders and pastors who have the “right stuff” to equip “baby” believers and train them to reproduce? For many denominations, the standard answer is seminary. However, as I've indicated from the above examples, our seminaries and Bible schools graduate only a trickle of church leaders. On the other hand, the millions coming to Christ worldwide require a flood of leadership to guide them. This God-blessed channel of formal schooling is just not adequate. In addition, we cannot depend on a few gifted professors to do what we as teachers, mentors, deacons, and pastoral staff aren't willing to give our time to. God gives us the responsibility of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).
Pray for Fresh Workers
To produce thousands of “laborers for the harvest,” we must do exactly what Jesus says. First, we follow Christ's command: “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers . . . .”(Matthew 9:38). the phrase “send forth” literally means to “thrust out.” That's exactly what God did with the Early Church! They were comfortable in Jerusalem Community Church, but the Lord used persecution to drive them to lands needing the Gospel. We must make a personal, daily commitment to pray specifically for workers — both for overseas missions and for our churches.
Embrace a New Category of “Ministers”
Second, as we pray, God will push many into leadership who haven't thought of vocational ministry. Some will go to seminary. But thousands will not. So, on mission fields and in local churches a new category and new procedure for building workers must be targeted. One category is the bi-vocational pastor. God has used ministers serving in this way for centuries, but our acceptance of them is way behind. Jesus was a carpenter, too. Paul was a tentmaker.
Not only can God use bi-vocational pastors, but also full-time ministers who haven't been to seminary. We sometimes call them “lay pastors” or “lay evangelists.” Unfortunately, in some countries they are not even allowed to pastor. When I came to Tampa to pastor in the '60's, I was surprised to discover that there were only two other seminary graduates in our group of 70 Baptist churches! But, I learned much from these pastors.
Copy Jesus' Procedure for Leadership Training
Third, to close the leadership gap we must copy Jesus' simple plan for raising up workers: mentoring in a ministry lifestyle. One definition of “mentoring” is “a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources” (Paul D. Stanley & J. Robert Clinton, Connecting: The Mentoring Relationships You Need to Succeed in Life, p.12).
Jesus mentor-discipled people as His primary channel to evangelize the world. His method was lifestyle — He lived with twelve men, 14-16 hours a day for three years. When He commanded “follow me” — His two-word summary of the New Testament — the disciples responded positively by getting up-close.
What elements were involved in Jesus' ministry lifestyle? Publicly, He modeled four things before His disciples:
Jesus is our supreme model for any teacher or preacher. Therefore, to emphasize and model the public ministry of Jesus but not model and equip others in Jesus' private ministry is to miss the Great Commission. Jesus' private ministry was equally important and more reproducible. He modeled:
How did Paul equip Timothy to pastor First Church of Ephesus? Just before dying, Paul reminds Timothy how he was taught to minister. Note how many of the following qualities and experiences can be learned by a sermon or lecture, and how many can only be learned within ministry. “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings — what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch.” (2 Timothy 3:10-11).
A pastor's doctrine, his teaching, can be learned by listening to sermons. But, Timothy could not have learned the other eight areas (half of which are character qualities) except by seeing them lived out during ministry together. Timothy was there! Pastor or church leader, whom are you taking WITH you to witness, to visit the hospitals, and to your home? Who sees you endure sufferings?
Titus, mentored by Paul, went to help the Corinthians and became a pastor in Crete. Paul writes of him: “walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?” (2 Corinthians 12:18). Mentoring that models a ministry lifestyle produces like-hearted leadership.
Dr. Bill Phillips, a regional leader for over 300 missionaries, offered this advice about ways to produce new spiritual leadership: “You are 100 percent correct regarding the need for building leadership and the place that mentor/modeling has in the accomplishment of this task. Our seminaries and Bible Schools neither turn out the mass of needed leadership and often times they fail to turn out the muscle for ministry. Academics are not the answer to kingdom leadership, although academics are not the failure of kingdom leadership. The real failure, as you constantly teach, is in having no mentor or model from which to experience the truths of God's Word.” “As iron sharpens iron; so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV).
What would be an easily reproducible, core curriculum to teach and model, if you desired to develop spiritual leadership? Remember, if we can't give people the time frame of Jesus (14-16 hours a day for three years), having 12 people in a group doesn't cut it. So, shave the number, while intensifying the relationships and experiences together. Have you modeled, then taught these basics personally to another, or in a small group?
- How to have a daily devotional time: methods of Scripture memory, Bible study and prayer.
- Attitude development through believing and claiming the promises of God. – Colossians 3:23-24
- Reproducible, simple witnessing tools, including how to share your testimony. – Matthew 4:19
- The ministry of the Holy Spirit: how to be filled with the Spirit, and walk in victory over sin.
- Discerning the will of God and getting guidance.
- World vision.
- The ministry of nurture and discipling/mentoring. How to assimilate new Christians.
Who does the teaching? The pastor follows his supreme model, Jesus, and is a pacesetter to model these areas. He follows Christ in training a small accountability group of men in the above basics. Each person needs to have one-with-one time weekly and be “with him” in witnessing and ministry. God's Spirit will lead them to train others (Mark 3:14).
You don't have time, you say? The pressures on a church leader dramatically decrease as new generations of leaders are trained. Here's one time-saving approach: I met with one man early on Tuesday morning. That evening the two of us went out witnessing with another man. After witnessing, discussing the experience, and prayer together, the first man went home. Then, I took the other man out to eat and he and I went over the “four P's” I'd also done with the first man earlier that day. (For help I suggest my Building Disciples notebook, Living God's Word, or First Steps for entry level or family times. The Power Of A Mentor illustrates why and how to mentor well.) This produced reproducers who, in turn, touched dozens — who became church leaders or were called into the pastorate and mission fields. We will fill the ranks of the “called” if we offer an additional track of leadership training.
Take This With You
- Who's the person you are mentoring?
- Pray and believe God for one pastor and one missionary to be called out each year from your church. Through Southern Baptists alone, it could produce 39,000 new potential missionaries and 39,000 new pastor candidates!
It doesn't take pews and pews of the right kind of people to change a church or ministry around — just one or two, a few. Ministers pray that “laborers” will join their churches, but they rarely do. You've got to build them, from scratch!
#1 - Pray for him!