This is an open letter to discipleship/education pastors on behalf of over 350,000 lead pastors in the U.S. This won’t be that letter that slaps your hand about what went wrong last Sunday. Actually, this is a genuine letter of appreciation, and I’m guessing you don’t get many of these.
You are Important to Me as a Person
In my pastorates, these discipleship leaders were all men who had a variety of gifts, personalities and titles like: Discipleship Pastor, Executive Pastor, Education Minister, and Sunday School Director. Most of them were paid, but none of them had the opportunity to focus exclusively on discipleship because their jobs also carried other responsibilities.
The one thing they all had in common was their proximity to and influence on me, their lead/senior pastor. These were my right hand men who I loved and depended on.
In my last church, I had two associate pastors, so I know what Moses felt like when Aaron and Hur were lifting up his arms during the battle with the Amalekites. These two men, and several before them, held me up when I was down and celebrated a few victories along the way as well. They were more than pastors with me, they were pastors to me as well. I let myself get close to each on a friendship level which sometimes backfired, but was more than worth it because ministry is too hard to do alone.
Your Ministry is Our Core Mission
Disciple-making is the core to the success of the Great Commission, so it follows that your ministry is the very core of your church’s mission. I want to make a bold and somewhat controversial assumption: your pastor probably doesn’t know that much about discipleship.
Pastors study theology in seminary, not discipleship. They are reluctant to ask for help and don’t even know how to make a discipleship plan. Of course, that is your job anyway, so lead on!
Your Personal Growth Impacts the Church’s Growth
Leaders who are not growing are not leading. When hiring a new pastor, I made it clear that they would be an active part of a discipleship/small group, whether they were teaching it or not. Since the vision of the church is to connect people to worship, discipleship, and missions – how could we authentically support publicly what we are not supporting privately?
On behalf of your pastor and church, please be that disciple who makes disciples. I implore you to live out the disciple-making vision of your church enthusiastically instead of making your pastor force you into compliance on the very thing you are there to champion. Here are a few resources I recommend that I think will help you sharpen your ministry saw.
- Groups Matter – resources for launching and leading new groups
- Ongoing Curriculum – ongoing Bible study resources
- Small Group Studies – short-term Bible study resources
- SmallGroup.com – build custom Bible studies, fast
- Disciple’s Path – an intentional discipleship path for new or growing believers
- Ministry Grid – online training for ministry leaders
- Ministry Training Essentials – essential training for ministry volunteers
You Will Never Get the Attention You Deserve
With only six months to the U.S. presidential election, you would think a visible line would start forming for the VP office. Most of you don’t mind sitting in the second chair, which makes me respect you even more.
There are approximately 7,000 discipleship pastors serving behind the scenes today while their pastor gets credit for ideas that you created and/or implemented. Thank you for serving from the shadows because of your love for the Lord and His Bride.