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Discipleship: training to leave

February 21, 2016

Many models of discipleship have been created, with pastors and leaders trying to find the key ingredient to establishing a healthy discipleship process. I—along with countless others—have gone through some trial and error to find what works in our context. I’ll share my experience with you so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

Training to leave

One thing that has made a difference in my ministry is the concept of training to leave. In WikiChurch by Steve Murrell, president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, writes,

“If we simply focus on making disciples who are equipped and empowered to make other disciples, then health, strength, and growth happen naturally.” Matthew 28:19 definitely tells us to “go and make disciples.” But Paul also tells us in Ephesians 4:12 that Jesus has given us the ability to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.”

We, as full-time ministers, aren’t supposed to be the only ones discipling people. We need to be training all Christians to disciple. The Great Commission isn’t just for those in full-time ministry positions—it’s for every single Christian.

If we try to do everything ourselves, we’ll soon be depleted and rob others of their potential. I don’t want to be the national director of Every Nation Campus forever. I want to fill this role knowing that someone will eventually take over. I need to take responsibility for training that person. However, there are several factors that often get in the way of living this lifestyle.

The Great Commission isn’t just for those in full-time ministry positions—it’s for every single Christian.

Me focus versus others focus

As campus missionaries, we’re constantly having to rein in our selfish and prideful tendencies. You may find yourself worrying about making a name for yourself and wanting others to be impressed by what you’ve done. If that’s your focus, you’re missing it. Your position isn’t about you—it’s about the people you reach for Christ. In order to make the role last longer than you, focus on training the leaders in your midst. In short, your focus should change from you to others.

The four Es

In Every Nation, our discipleship process helps us focus on others rather than ourselves—it’s all about training those around us. The process is centered around the four Es:

  • Engage: Engage students and your campus.
  • Establish: Establish biblical foundations.
  • Equip: Equip students to minister.
  • Empower: Empower students to lead.

By following these four Es, you’re discipling Christians while training them to disciple others. You’re setting that person up for success in fulfilling the Great Commission.

No gimmicks

In my experience, discipleship gimmicks only go so far. Steve Murrell also writes, “The more exclusive and complex discipleship becomes, the further it is removed from what Jesus did and from what He commanded us to do.” Jesus didn’t have some extravagant plan to trick his disciples into following him and making disciples. Instead, he chose the most ordinary people and said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Why should we do anything different? We’re all ordinary people, finding other ordinary people and training them to do the most extraordinary thing—disciple others. When we focus on the bigger objective and don’t get caught up in making a name for ourselves and overcomplicating discipleship, we have the ability to produce great fruit.