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The Economy and the Church: Too Few Disciples

Submitted by James Higginbotham on January 21, 2010 – 4:05 amNo Comment

Yesterday, we talked about churches having too few leaders. Now, let’s dig into the details of how a church can recover when they have too few leaders.

Leadership is demonstrated again and again in the Bible. In the Old Testament, it is often demonstrated with the prophets and with those God called to support the prophets. In the New Testament, we see leadership demonstrated through ordinary people empowered by the Holy Spirit. No matter what, they all had one thing in common – they were disciples.

Discipleship is very personal for me. When I first came to Christ over 12 years ago with my wife, we were met by a couple that had been praying for a couple to disciple. They took us into their family, taught us the core foundation of the Bible, and continued to invest in us over the next few years. During that time, my wife and I grew deep in our faith as a result of their investment. Before I came to Christ, I wasn’t a leader, but during this time of discipleship, God challenged me at work and in my volunteer roles to grow as a leader. The end result was an opportunity to lead myself, then teams, then leaders, then leaders of leaders.A ll of this was a result of discipleship – the same kind of discipleship we see demonstrated in the Bible.

When the economy is booming, we forget the simple things. Instead, we start to make things more complicated. Bigger buildings. More programs. More staff. More music. More impressive services. More of everything. In the midst of this “more attitude”, we forget to disciple our local church body. We focus more on drawing in than building up. Jesus tells us that the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. So, our main focus should be building up the workers and letting God produce the harvest.

Enough with the lecture. This doesn’t help your church. What will help is a simple plan for building a new generation of leaders to fill the gaps you now have. Here it is:

The Plan: You need to focus on building disciples.

Sounds simple and obvious, right? If it were, then you’d have leaders available today. It isn’t easy because it requires investment. It requires discipline. It requires turning down new and interesting projects if they interfere with your core purpose: to equip disciples for doing the work God has called your local church.

Building disciples should be part of your local church’s DNA. It must be the driving force behind everything you do as a church body. Every decision you make must increase the ability of your church to invest in one another in preparation for investing into others.

It is only through discipleship that leaders are grown.

Discipleship is the lifeblood of the believer.

Discipleship teaches believers who God is, what He expects of us, and how to grow our relationship with Him.

Discipleship allows mature Christians to each younger Christians.

Discipleship builds the foundation that every believer will depend upon when the tough times come.

Discipleship builds personal leadership.

Discipleship challenges believers to grow, learn, make mistakes, and emerge on the other side prepared to lead themselves and others during challenges.

Want to build up new leaders? It is time to focus on discipling those in your local church.

Are you ready to make the commitment? If not, feel free to keep doing what you are doing today. Let me know how that goes – I bet I can guess the result!

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