Are You a Discipleship-First Leader?

Bobby Harrington shares why leaders that embrace disciple making see their churches multiply:

A few years ago, I asked Ralph Moore to lead a session on how disciple making has worked in the Hope Chapel movement. Ralph pioneered the Hope Chapel movement, the clearest example of a Level 5 multiplication movement in North America. Hope Chapel now has a legacy of more than 2,300 churches.

“We invite people into relationships,” Moore explained. “Then we invite them to our church gathering on Sunday where we preach one chapter from the Bible each week. From there, we have everyone get into a group in a home or coffee shop during the week, and each group follows the same format.”

Moore’s groups discuss three questions:

  1. What did the Holy Spirit tell you during the teaching Sunday?
  2. What are you doing about it?
  3. How can we help you by our prayers and support?

Hope Chapel’s small group leaders meet regularly with pastoral staff to work through leadership books and Scripture. In these leadership huddles, they ask the same three questions they ask in small groups, applying those questions to their leadership readings.

 

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Moore understands that multiplication is the result of his and Hope Chapel’s ongoing focus on discipleship. Few would dispute that he is what discipleship author and speaker Bill Hull calls a “discipleship-first” leader. Moore, and leaders like him, take Ephesians 4:11-13 seriously—embracing God’s design for multiplying the Church and carrying out His Great Commission. These leaders know their primary role in seeing the Church multiply—to equip, train and coach everyday Christians to do the ministry of being disciples who make disciples:

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

We see this kind of multiplication in the early church as Jesus invested in Peter, James, and John. As they walked with Jesus and spent time listening to Him, they became His disciples, which led to making disciples. Being led to doing. In Jesus, we have the ultimate model of a “discipleship-first” leader that calls His Church be followers of Him and to multiply.

In Jesus, we have the ultimate model of a “discipleship-first” leader

As I’ve pursued what it looks like to be a disciple and make disciples, I’ve had the privilege of learning from global disciple makers like Ralph Moore, Bill Hull, Francis Chan, and many others. They are all discipleship-first leaders who deeply believe that Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 is not just a good message or a command meant for vocational ministry leaders. These leaders share the same heartbeat—that Jesus commanded His Church to make disciples so that no one would perish and everyone would have relationship with Him. Read and consider your response to the “disciple making” characteristics below:

Disciple making is the only response worthy of Jesus.

Discipleship and disciple making are the only appropriate response to who Jesus is and what he has done for us. He is the only worthy center for a human life. Discipleship and disciple making are simply receiving Jesus, forming our lives around Jesus and helping others to do the same.

Disciple making upholds Jesus’ final command.

I recently lost my little sister to a terrible brain disease that took her life six weeks after the symptoms appeared. It has been months, and I still have not yet adjusted to losing her. In my mind, I keep going over her last words to me and to our family. I treasure them; they give great meaning to her death. Similarly, Jesus’ final words to the disciples are very important to those who are committed to Him. They summarize everything He taught. He equipped his disciples to do for others what He had done for them. Their commission is also our commission (Matt. 28:19–20). His words are not just the final command for the apostles. They are for every believer.

Disciple making is a clear expression of Christlikeness and love.

Jesus loved God and people perfectly. He is our model. By following Him, we learn how to love God and love people. He came to seek the lost and devoted the bulk of His time and energy to intentionally and relationally pouring His life into discipling people. The best way to live life is to model our lives after His. You can be a disciple who makes disciples. If the ministry of Jesus teaches us anything, it’s that anybody—no matter who they are—can become a disciple maker.

Anybody—no matter who they are—can become a disciple maker.

As you read through these characteristics, did they resonate with you? Did something deep within seem to be calling you? If so, you are likely a leader deeply convicted that discipleship should be your No. 1 priority. The question is what are you doing with these convictions? Being a discipleship-first leader requires doing—to act on our beliefs and multiply disciples that plant churches.

When we fully embrace disciple making, it can turn a church into an incubator for multiplication, as this disciple making DNA creates micro-multiplication throughout a church. Discipleship-first leaders equip everyday disciples to become disciple makers; many naturally rise up to become church planters.
As we become discipleship-first leaders, we will see multiplication. We will carry out what Jesus has commanded His church to do.

 

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