If the trumpet doesn’t sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8)
The answer is very few.
For millennia humans have responded to the clear call of the trumpet. It still happens today. This morning, at military bases all around the world, a trumpet sounded the Reveille. It calls each soldier to duty. It reminds them that service requires sacrifice and that they are called to something bigger than themselves.
In short, the trumpet principle states, “if you want people to respond, then you must sound a clear call.” Said another way, the greater the clarity of the call the greater the response of your people.
The trumpet principle holds true regardless of the context. It’s as true in the military as it is in personal disciple making; in business as it is in the church. Leaders don’t struggle understanding the trumpet principle , they struggle to sound a clear call.
In order to sound a clear trumpet sound disciple making church leaders must clearly answer these four questions:
1. How does relational disciple making differ from what the church is already doing?
One pastor recently said to me, “I don’t like naming any one thing discipleship because it really is everything we do.” Discipleship can be seen as everything we do when we’ve thrown everything we do into that category. Such, junk-drawer definitions of discipleship are unhelpful. It’s why I don’t use the word discipleship. Jesus-style disciple making is different. It is relational, intentional, intrusive, and missional. It is distinct from what churches normally do because it revolves around relationships outside of church rather than around programs and gatherings inside the church.
2. How do we make disciples as a church (corporately? individually? both?)?
The call to make disciple making is for every church and every individual in church. When a church leader sounds the call to make disciples, he must back it up with his life. It’s not just the people who should be on the front lines of disciple making (as some pastors think). And it’s not just the pastors who should be doing the job (as some laity think). The call is for us all. The call is both a corporate and an individual responsibility. Effective trumpet calls convey this truth not only with a leader’s voice, but also with his life. This requires church leaders to live a life where they can say, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”
3. How will we equip church members to effectively reach people in their natural relational contexts?
Often church disciple making ends up being just another program that people need to come to the church to participate in. There’s a curriculum to move through with people who want to learn more about it. Yet Jesus practiced relational disciple making that happened in the normal rhythms of life. Jesus knew that learning happens best in relational, hands-on environments.
It’s no surprise then that an effective disciple making trumpet call helps people connect their everyday life to the call God has placed on their lives (Mt. 28:18-20). It invites them into a relational way of ministry that is often scary and demanding. Unless people can see that, then they will continue to relate to the call as if it’s just another church program.
4. How will church leaders pastor people through resistance to personal disciple making?
Whenever a leader suggests change he can expect resistance. Calling everyone to personal disciple making will result in challenges. First, you can expect some to have (unwarranted) guilt of those who have never personally made a disciple. Some will respond to this strong emotion by rejecting the call, others will be hurt by the idea, and still others will wade through it and then lean in so that they can become a disciple maker. There will surely be more because when disciple making is a church’s clear call it also threatens those who want to remain in their comfortable, consumeristic Christianity.
Ignore the trumpet principle at your own risk. Churches who fail to develop clarity around the mission will end up with very few who are making disciples because:
“If your church doesn’t proclaim that each person is called to make disciples, who will make them?”
Again the answer is very few.
This post first appeared here. Used with permission.