What a pastor never gets yelled at for

There are a lot of things pastors get angry emails about. You can guess them: boring sermons, worship music style, worship music volume, kids ministry, youth ministry. These are usually the things that frustrate us in the church. I know there probably more. There is one that we should get plenty emails but it doesn’t. It is a crucial piece every church must have going, yet it doesn’t hit most people’s radar. What is it?

I don’t think I ever got an email about how my or the church’s discipleship was going. The bummer is the things that we scream about will be severely affected if the church doesn’t take of this important priority, disciple-making. We must build Christ into others for the church to be effective at the Great Commission.

I just finished up a great book on the subject. It is still in print twenty years later, so it has lasting truths in it for the church and pastors. Below are my notes and best quotes I ran into. Enjoy. Let us know what has helped you to develop others.

Disciple Making Church by Bill Hull

Best Insights from the book

One of the big points Hull is making is the difference between Christocentric and the Churchocentric. The Christocentric discipleship model is the way Jesus himself practiced. “Jesus was the master and the disciples the learners. ..No one had to make guesses about God’s will or decide where to do outreach. Just ask Jesus.” p30 The problem for us in the church today is that we do not have Christ with us. He argues that, “The Christocentric model does work in a group fully committed to a clear and narrow goal–such as a mission organization. The …common-vision nature of such a group allows the model to work successfully; …unencumbered by the multiplicity of agendas and the complexity of the local church.”

Hull thinks that the Churchocentric model works more effectively today because of the diversity within congregations and the fact since Jesus is not around we need the whole church working together to disciple the congregation. “The narrow Christoncentric model hasn’t worked in the church at large because it does not fit its variety. Most people in the local congregation are gifted in other areas, look at life through different lenses and have multiplicity of beliefs concerning the church priorities.” p31

“In Churchocentric discipling corporate teamwork exists among the body of Christ. Outreach occurs through the different gifts of the entire church, rather than a small portion of the congregation. Though some people are verbally strong, while other play s support role, all work together for the common goal.” p31

The other important point to remember in this book is the chart Hull uses to describe the changes in methodology through the New Testament. See the chart to the left.

Hull has four stages: Come and See, Come and Follow Me, Come and Be With Me and Remain in Me. Jesus practiced these too in his ministry. At each stage in the training of the disciples: Jesus told them what and why, he showed them how, he allowed them to practice, and he released them to multiply. Hull’s point is that the Apostle began instituting how the church as a whole would disciple the people. The author breaks the book up into three phases: the early church, the missional and the discipling church. It is the final phase that has the most for us to learn from today because we look and function like the church at Ephesus. So for us we should read part IV particularly well to understand best how to function.

I agree and disagree on Hull’s premise. I can see that it really does take a whole church to help us mature. There are things I must learn from different people. Some folks I’ll learn about issues of justice, from others I’ll be sharpened by the way they deal with pain, others will teach me the depths of theology. So we do need all sorts to fully disciple ourselves. I have also seen that not everyone is ready for a deep, strenuous  discipleship plan. People are all over the place with some needing to be spoon fed, while others are only ready to serve with their hands. If as Hull suggests we only have a high commitment discipleship method we will only help a portion of the church.

However, as Hull builds his argument he lays out the application much like a Christocentric model. His integrating chapter twelve builds on tougher discipleship requirements for the leadership. In his “Leadership Community” it is very much like the master, learner model Jesus practiced. Early in the book he seems to talk down one on one discipling models as impractical because of the complexity of the needs and interests of congregations. It seems like what tore down early he uses later to build disciples. Perhaps part of his response would be, “Yes these few folks are to serve the church and the world through support groups and service.” It just seems very much like the Christocentric model as opposed to the Churchocentric.

Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes from the book.

“Disciple making is for every Christian and every church. Understand, however, that when I speak of discipling I’m talking about a broad-based principle and process rather than an event or program.” p10

“I believe the discipling church is the normal church and that disciple making is for everyone and every church because: Christ instructed the church to take part in it, Christ modeled it and The NT disciples applied it.” p10

“Unless the church make making disciples its main agenda, world evangelism is a fantasy.” p11

“In the long run, sustained real change that focuses on discipling will be lay driven.” p13

“Unless a loving, caring community exists to help new-born babes and heal the wounded, people won’t come to Him or stick around long enough to be trained. Love within the community of Christ is the most powerful of all the church’s evangelistic tools.” p32

“Discipling = The intentional training of disciples, with accountability, on the basis of loving relationships.” p32

“The key to churchocentric discipling is teamwork in a loving environment that maintains the distinctives of mission, training in ministry skills, and accountability. The real evidence of success will be the constant production of reproducing disciples and leaders who become multipliers.” p33

“I need several mentors to fully develop me in Christ: a ministry-skills mentor, a character mentor, and peole who will help me focus on a variety of other issues. Only the body of Christ can provide an environment that gives the full range of experiences and challenges I need. One-on-one can provide the fine-tuning in personal matters as I walk with Christ, but it cannot do the whole job.” p35

“In today’s church good team leadership has become rare because good training usually does not precede assuming of leadership.” p36

“Discipling means managing a system in which teaching, training, evangelism, and pastoral care take place.” p36

“Anything that helps a person move forward in Him fits the label discipling.” p36

“Making disciples begins with introducing men and women to Christ.” p40

“The discipling church is at least three things: a hospital for the spiritually sick, a greenhouse for the growth of new believers, and a training center for the eager and well.” p41

“But when we place leadership development, training, and outreach together with pastoral care, we have discipling.” p48

“Five priorities practiced by the Jerusalem church… 1) A commitment to Scripture act2:42. 2) A commitment to one another. acts2:42, 44, 46. 3) A commitment to prayer acts2:42. 4) A commitment to praise and worship. acts2:43, 47. 5) A commitment to outreach acts2:45-47.” p64

“Community made discipling possible by creating a warm environment. When people feel accepted or safe, they drop their defenses, set aside excuses, and begin to move spiritually.” p67

“In His genius, God uses our effective obedience to create greater dependence and acts of faith that move us to maturity.” p78

“Firm corrective action over internal problems yielded a healthy fear of sin and a greater fruit in ministry, something today’s church has yet to learn.” what the early church learned about Ananias and Sapphira. p 80

The lesson for Acts6 and poor distribution of food to widows. “Do not sacrifice your primary task to handle a secondary issue. Multiply yourself through others. …the apostles declared their primary task: ‘…It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.’”

“If leaders don’t evangelize, the possibility that the populace will becomes miniscule.” p83

“The adventurous Pilgrims who braved the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean made major sacrifices before and during the voyage to their new land. As they settled, these brave men and women fought disease, cruel winters, hostile Indians, and internal bickering. Their champion spirits won, and they established a new community.

After establishing a sense of normalcy in the community a few Pilgrims wanted to press inland, to develop new areas. Almost unanimously, the people who had settled the New World rejected the plan as too difficult–they had become institutionalized.” p88

“The ordinary people of the Church saw it as their job: Christinaity was supremely a lay movement, spread by informal missionaries.” p90

“John Wesley measured his sermons by two standards: Were people converted, and was anyone angered?” p95

“For the first church this step was multiplication, and for Antioch it was reproduction. For Paul and Barnabas it was formative work: The had to feel their way along and creatively contextualize their principles.” p107

“Journey one was ‘Come and see,’ the formative stage, Journey two adds the developmental stage, ‘Come and follow Me,’ combined with some corrective action. In the third journey, Paul added reproduction and leadership development, the ‘Come and be with Me,’ stage. ‘Remain in Me,’ took place when Paul spent four years in prison, and his staff took on the oversight responsibilities. …most congregations stall out in one of the first two stages.” p107

“Though many modern Christian leaders teach a lack of conflict is the signpost of proper Christianity, I believe conflict is normal to effective ministry. Though I hate conflict, I suggest that those who want to obey God learn to live with it.” p113 see Mt 10 for Jesus’  assessment on our conflict.

“Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (acts14:21, 22) p114

“Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust” (acts14:23, 24). p115

“God multiplied His church through persecution. Now He does it through differences in gifts. We may not immediately recongize the good in disagreements. They can be very painful, as this one must have been for Paul and Barnabas. As their emotions played havoc with their minds, no doubt these men questioned their decision.  Allow for gift differnences in your leadership team.” p121

“Training others for ministry is the greatest investment any leader makes.” p124

“In Corinth, at first Paul worked as a tentmaker for six days and taught on the sabbath. But when Silas and Timothy arrived, he devoted himself exclusively to preaching and testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. He focused on what would produce the most fruit, teaching the Scriptures and developing leaders.” p135

Be a writer, like Paul. Think of the impact he had on the church through his letters. “In reading Paul’s letters to the various churches, it becomes clear that he had no clear strategy of letter writing. But he did have an intentional strategy for explanding the church through discipling.” p136

Paul’s reproduction stages: Demonstration, Imitation, Reproduction. p137-141

“Paul describes that heart in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-14 which teaches that a healthy church requires the tenderness of a mother and the leadership of a father” p141 This is the two guiding principles in disciple-making. Love like a mom and encourage, lead like a dad.

Mother discipleship does it by being an emotional anchor. We all need acceptance and warmth and tenderness. p142

“The father has a more cognitive role; he is the authority figure.” p143

Father discipleship is described in three ways in 1 Thessalonians 2:11, 12: Encouraging, Comforting, Urging.” p144, 145

“The essence of pastoring is motivating people to engage in behaviors that do not come naturally.” p144

“One thing came across clearly, though: parents’ hearts go out to a child. They would willingly rip out their hearts and put them on a platter for a son or daughter. …A church that grows people has the heart of a parent and experiences all the emotions of the parents in that room. The combined roles father and mother provide a model for the community of Christ.” p146

“People will accept one another’s strengths and weaknesses, but they do not extend the same courtesy to the clergy.” p147

“Therefore a discipling church focuses on building a foundation of theology, as Ephesians suggests, and teaching people about their tools, to help them discover and develop their gifts.” p161

“Congregation members have the responsibility of availing themselves of the various vehicles that will prepare them for ministry.” p163

“When members do not give themselves to ministry preparedness, something the body needs done will go undone. …Spiritual maturity requires submission to spiritual authority, involvement in training and preparedness, and the accountability of working with others toward a common goal.” p163

“Well over 50 percent of the average congregation is a ministry wasteland. People go unchallenged and untrained, unused and unfulfilled.” p166

Pastoral Priorites: Guarding the Gospel by commitment to the Word, Guarding the church by leadership development, Guarding the ministry by being a good model. p170

“Some pastors commit themselves to studying the Word for sermon preparation and nothing else. I advocate serious study of God’s Word for ministry strategy, goals and ways to measure church activity.” p172

“In our materialistic society, power is money, and people who have money or control money are often considered spiritual leaders. This concept is foreign to Paul’s thinking. To cure such a malady, require all potential leaders to submit to a course of study and accountability applications directly related to learning the Gospel and reporducing themselves through it.” ‘179

About 1 Tim 3:1-16 “Taking this passage seriously means developing a training program for potential leaders and coaching all willing trainees toward effective application of the character qualities extolled in the text. Train them, coach them, measure them, screen them; then you are being serious.” p181

“Leadership development gives the church philosophical purity at the leadership level. Philosophical purity means top leadership essentially agrees on doctrine, ministry philosophy, and methodology.” p181

“Good doctrine and Scripture are not enough; they must be joined by a commitment to leadership development. A pastor who does not reproduce himself by building leaders is an unfaithful shepherd.” p181

“People are watching. Everything we do teaches. Vision is more caught than taught.” p184


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