“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to [equip] God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph. 4:11-12).
I was on a plane with the crew of a motion picture company, and I began chatting with their makeup artist. They had been filming
in the high country around Canyon City, Colorado. Charles Bronson, Clint Walker, Jack Warden, and other actors, cameramen,
and crew had been there for about three weeks. The man told me he was responsible for what these actors looked like when they
faced the cameras. He had his kit with him, full of the tools of his trade. With these, plus his skill as an artist, he would work on the men early each morning. What the public would see on the screen depended on the expertise of this man.
As we chatted about his work, it occurred to me that developing workers for the kingdom of God is something like that. You have the responsibility under God to prepare these people for their ministry in the lives of others. You are concerned with their spiritual makeup: their dedication, commitment, maturity, vision, ministry skills , and the deepening of their lives in the Lord.
You have seen the Holy Spirit accomplish through you life and through the lives of others on your disciple-making team certain specific objectives that have enabled the person you are helping become a mature, committed, and fruitful disciple (see Chapter 6 and Appendix 1). Since he seems to have the hunger, gifts, and calling to go) on to a ministry of making disciples, you are now ready to build some other qualities into his life.
You are poised on the brink of high adventure, for you are about to help launch a spiritually qualified worker into a world where the harvest continues to be plentiful and where the needs of people scream out for attention. And the workers are few.
At this point you must concentrate on a number of things that will equip the person you are helping and enable him to become a `harvest worker for Christ. The objectives discussed in this chapter are the process; the product, or end result, is a worker in the harvest fields of the world. At the end of his training, these qualities should be an integral part of his life.
A Heart for People
You must help the potential worker develop a heart for people. It is so easy to fall into the trap of looking on people as a means to an end, a means of accomplishing an objective or fulfilling a vision.
I have watched missionaries fall into this trap. They arrive on the field and gather some people together who seem to be spiritually hungry and have a potential for the ministry. They never actually say this, but their attitudes convey it clearly: “ALL right, you lucky people, here I am. I’ve come here and your troubles are over. I’ve had thorough training, I know my job, and I have arrived spiritually. I’m here to do a job, not play games. God has laid a vision on my heart and you people are the key to seeing it fulfilled. So I want to get something clear right from the beginning. If you people don’t get with it and stay with it, my great vision of seeing disciples raised up and starting to multiply will be thwarted. So let’s get down to business. I don’t have any time to waste. ‘
How do you suppose a national responds to this approach? He probably says to himself, “This man does not really care about me. I’m not important to him as a person. He has no love for me at all. He merely wants to use me, not fellowship with me and help me. He has no heart for me at all.”
Now that’s deadly, for the ministry is not designed to use people but to help people. I heard a friend of mine say that the reason he stuck around Skip Gray for discipleship training was because he knew that Skip loved him, was concerned for him as an individual, and had only his best interests at heart. Skip was not out to use him, but to help him become a mature,dedicated,
productive, and multiplying disciple. This attitude reflects the heart of the apostle Paul when he said, “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because youhad become so dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:7-8).
An Addiction to the Vision of Multiplication
The second thing you must do is help the potential worker become addicted to the vision of multiplication. Not only are people
precious in the sight of God, but they have a tremendous potential for God. God wants to multiply our lives and ministries of discipleship. We must help our potential workers see the importance of the individual, his potential for God, and how through him many others can become disciples and workers.
An extraordinary example of this principle is found in the ministry of Paul. “Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by and went on to Macedonia” (2 Cor. 2:12-13).
Was Paul commissioned by Christ to preach the gospel? Yes, Christ had appeared to him and commissioned him “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18).
Did Paul have it on his heart to preach the gospel? Yes, for he told the Corinthians, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16),
Had he come to Troas to preach the gospel? Yes. Had the Lord opened the door? Yes, He had. But what did Paul do? He left the open door of opportunity to go and find Titus. He left a city with the door wide open to find one man! Why would he do such a thing? For two reasons. One, Titus had just visited the Christians in Corinth and Paul was eager to know their spiritual condition. Two, he did not know the whereabouts of one of his men and was concerned. Titus was important to him. More important than the entire city of Troas? It appears so.
Paul knew that if something had happened to Titus, his ministry would have suffered a serious setback. To Paul, the man was more important than the masses, because the man multiplied was the key to reaching the masses. If he could help keep Titus
going and growing, the work of Christ would move ahead rapidly. that God’s As you study the Scriptures, you discover concern is always for the individual. The multitudes are always there and much on the heart of God, but they seem to be the backdrop on the stage of eternity. Stage center is always the man whom God can use to multiply the ministry. He knows that if there is a Joshua or Gideon or Moses or David or Paul, the multitudes will be reached and receive the instruction and help they need.
A Servant Spirit
The third thing you need to do is help the potential worker develop and deepen his servant spirit. In his becoming a worker
for Christ, it is critical that he display this attribute in clear and unmistakable terms. He will have to spend the rest of his life giving himself away. His own “rights” will diminish as he serves others.
This was a prime characteristic of Jesus. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). And it is a necessary quality in the life of a follower of Christ. God will call on him often to sublimate himself to the service of Christ and to the service of others. His basic attitude will have to be that of John the Baptist, who said of Jesus, `He must become greater; I must become less important” (John 3:30). Two things are needed for a person to be a good servant: desire and training.
An Integral Part of the Disciple-making Team
You must help the potential worker learn to function as part of your disciple-making team. He must see himself as a ship in a
convoy, as a plane in formation with others. He must know that his individual actions affect the functioning of the whole. This is one of the most difficult things to learn in the discipling ministry. People are individuals and would rather exercise their rights as individuals. One of the greatest problems a leader has to face is the disinclination of people to pull together toward the accomplishing of a common objective. It takes much persistent prayer and gentle, loving guidance to bring people together in this fashion.
Ingredients of a disciple-making team. What components go toward making up a team in which the individual members work
well with one another? Four essentials are needed in the formation and ongoing of a disciple-making team.
1. Bible study. Get the man with whom you are working involved in a Bible study that has some teeth in it. You should have reasonable standards, such as each person having his study done on time, being at the meeting every time, and sharing freely with the others. Each member studies the same chapter in the Bible, and prepares his study according to a commonly agreed on plan.
Participants should take a few minutes at the beginning of each study to pair off and quote their new Scripture memory verses to one another. In the discussion, as they share what the Holy Spirit has revealed to them in their study and what He impressed them to apply to their lives, He will] begin to fuse them together as a team.
2. Prayer. Team members must pray together. Center your prayers on the ministry. Pray for those to whom you have witnessed, but who have not yet responded to Christ. Pray for people on your prospect list, ” people to whom you would like to take the gospel. Pray for those who are new Christians and are starting on the path of discipleship. Pray for the needs of the ministry. Pray for continued development in your own lives. Pray that God will raise up spiritually qualified workers from your group to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel.
3. Witness. Share your faith with others as a team.
Naturally each man will be carrying on a personal witness where he works and in his neighborhood-in his own sphere of influence
among friends, relatives, and neighbors. But from time to time it is good to go out together, in a calling program in your church or some other “united witnessing thrust.
4. Social and fun times. A speaker told us at a conference that the highest form of identification is having a good time together. Basketball, volleyball, softball, and other team sports do much to knit hearts together. Work projects around the church, going out together, and social gatherings can all be used by the Lord to accomplish unity and the ability to work together as a team.
Unity in a disciple-making team. The concept of the team is oneness. Not sameness of opinion, but identify of spirit. So it is vital that your men be committed to some goal that stirs their blood and excites their spirits. Perhaps something like: “To help fulfill Christ’s commission by training multiplying disciples. ” The goal must be something that each of your men will be willing to give his life to, something important, worthy, and grand-like the Great Commission.
Engaging in some noble enterprise, especially if there is a touch of adventure or sacrifice in it, draws men together. Paul spoke of standing `firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel”(Phil. 1:27). Identity of purpose, if we are truly committed, leads to identity of spirit. Godly men who have joined together with one purpose draw to themselves spiritual forces unfelt before. They find themselves lifted along by a power and enthusiasm which they know is beyond them. They draw from the springs of God and work under the smile and blessing of the Lord. “Behold,” the psalmist wrote, `how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133:1).
The presence of the Spirit of God helps a team press ahead with boldness, hope, and joy. It requires an irrevocable commitment to Christ, to the mission, and to each other. Charles Colson speaks of the commitment certain men had to him after he came to Christ, and the strength it brought him during some of his dark hours.
Our unity is what Jesus prayed for. He asked “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). Our oneness with Christ brings a oneness with each other and enables us to be the right kind of testimony to the world.
Some years ago I did a verse-by-verse meditation study through the Book of Acts, I was trying to discover the secret of the success of the early church. I was fascinated by such statements as, “Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, “these that have turned the world upside down, and “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 5:28; 17:6; 19: 10, KJV).
What caused them to make such an impact on their world? After a lengthy and prayerful study, I concluded that it was due
to two things: unity and sacrifice. The inspired record frequently mentioned their being of “one accord,” “one mind,” one soul,” and having “singleness of heart.”
The phrase one accord (KJV) appears thirteen times in the Bible, eleven of them in the Book of Acts. The word love, which appears many times in the Bible, is never found in this book. The reason is that the record is not of the meditations of the apostles, but of their acts. The basic undergirding of love led them to a unity of spirit and they were willing to give all they had-their money, their farms, their possessions, their lives to get the job done. Sacrifice was a normal way of life.
In the Gospels unity is expressed another way. Jesus said, Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven (Matt. 18:19). It is interesting to note that the word translated agree in this passage is the same word from which we get our word symphony. A symphony in music is a harmony of different tones and notes. It is not every musician in the orchestra playing the same note at the same time with the same volume. Nor is it every player sounding whatever he wants to. It is a beautiful blend of notes producing the right sound that is pleasant to hear.
Think of your disciple-making team as a symphony. Each man is an individual, not a plastic statue from the same mold as every other. And each man makes his unique contribution in line with his gifts and calling from God.
The apostle Paul suggested another concept to teach unity. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4: 15-16). Here the picture is that of a body whose parts work together in harmony. The idea is one of interdependence, each member functioning in relationship with every other member. The eye and the ear each make a vital contribution; the hand and the foot do the same. We serve each other; we need each other. We minister in harmony with one another. (See also 1 Cor. 12-14 on this harmony. )
So in the Book of Acts you have a picture of unity, “one accord,” in the Gospels you have a symphony, and in the epistles you have the concept presented in terms of the body. All of these illustrate the functions of a disciple-making team. The ministry is far more effective when it is carried on by a team. There is power in a united effort. Teamwork is one of the keys that unlocks and unleashes the power of God. The Lord delights in blessing a band of united Christians functioning together in love and unity.
The team should be seen in terms of a football team rather than a wrestling team. In wrestling there is individual effort by each man as his teammates cheer him on. In football there must be team effort-all eleven men must work together and follow the signals and the play.
When I served in the Marines in World War II, each man was considered a “self-contained unit. ” But when we hit the beach, we functioned together. We were not a bunch of individual snipers, but a team. The infantry worked together in fire teams : a point man, automatic weapons man, and the rest of the riflemen. In addition, they were supported by tanks, airplanes, and artillery. We were interdependent in times of battle, for we needed each other. We functioned as a team.
That’s the picture of the impact of the early church in the Book of Acts. That’s what God wants to do with you and your team today. “ALL believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared
everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was with them all” (Acts 4:32-33).
A Volunteer Spirit
The fifth quality to build in a man s life is a volunteer spirit. This is difficult to do in an age which says, “Never volunteer for anything. ” But a volunteer spirit is a Christlike spirit. Jesus was not carried to the cross kicking and screaming. He went to Jerusalem knowing what He would face.
They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed
were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him.
“We are going up to Jerusalem, ” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise” (Mark 10:32-34).
He went to Jerusalem as a volunteer. He gave His life of His own free will. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my
life-only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father (John 10:17-18).
For a person to be involved in a disciple-making ministry, a volunteer spirit is a must. Half-hearted participants do not make good workers. A classic example of whole-hearted volunteering is in the life of Isaiah: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, `Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, `Here am I. Send me!”‘ (Isa. 6:8). This is the spirit all of us need.
In order to teach others the truths of Christ and the Christian life, the potential worker must live them out in his own life. He must set the pace for those whom he is helping. In order to help others in the disciplines of Christian living, he must be practicing them himself. God does not use someone with a weak, run-down-at-the-heels prayer life to help another develop into a strong man of prayer.
If he would help another person establish a consistent quiet time, he must be meeting with the Lord on a regular basis. Paul said, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:9). He told the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). is not the pacesetter’s job to outrun everybody. responsibility is to help the other runners do their best. The pacesetter must instruct and guide, not impress. He is there to help the disciple “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1).
A Productive Witness
You must help the potential worker become a productive witness. It is easy for a person, when he gets to this stage of his
spiritual growth and development, to fall into the trap of being a “fellowshiping ‘ Christian rather than one who is continually
engaged in the battle for the souls of men. If he stays active in sharing the gospel with others, three things will happen:
1. The ranks of new believers will increase.
2. He will provide an example to other disciples.
3. He will attract into further training those who have a warrior s spirit, a heart for the battle, and a desire to become workers for Jesus Christ.
If he doesn’t stay active, he will begin to neglect some vital areas of the Christian life, for it is easy to be drawn away into other important” things.
My wife and I had an experience that brought this home to us in a forceful way. We were in Lincoln, Nebraska to speak at a week-long conference of the Back to the Bible Broadcast. One of the staff met us at the airport, took us to the apartment in the Broadcast building, got us settled, and pointed out a nearby restaurant where we could have supper.
After he left, Virginia and I walked over to the restaurant. We found ourselves the only customers in the place. I ordered a hamburger for myself and a salad for Virginia, and we waited for our meal. We waited and waited and waited. Eventually a nervous waitress came to our table and said, “Oh, Sir, your food will be here shortly. ”
“Fine, I said, “we re in no hurry. ‘ So she left.
After another long wait she came back. “Oh, Sir, she said, this time wringing her hands, “your food will be here any minute now.
“Fine,” I assured her, “we re in no hurry. Don’t be nervous.”
She scampered away and returned after another long wait.
“Oh, Sir, ” she said, still wringing her hands, “your food will be here in a second.”
I smiled. “OK,” I said, “I’II time you. And I looked at my watch.
“No, no!” she blurted out. “I don’t mean exactly one second-I mean real soon.
I smiled again. `OK,” I replied, “we re in no hurry.
She still appeared nervous, so I tried to calm her.
“Look,” I said, “here am I with the most beautiful girl in the world [my wife]- I’m sitting in this lovely restaurant with my
sweetheart. We re enjoying it. There is no reason for us to be in a hurry.
She appeared relieved, but my curiosity had been aroused. “By the way, I said, “not that I’m angry or anxious to get away or anything like that, but why does it take so long to cook my hamburger?”
“Oh, Sir; she said, “the cooks forgot to cook it!”
I was amazed. Forgot to cook it! How could that be? So I said, “Let me ask you-why does this restaurant hire cooks? What
are they supposed to do?”
“Cook,” she replied.
“I thought so, ” I said. “Then how could they forget to cook my hamburger if they are hired to cook?”
Well, ” she answered, “tomorrow the inspectors are coming, and the cooks are busy getting ready for inspection. They are washing the floors and walls, scrubbing the pots and pans, cleaning the stove, and doing other things to get ready.
I understood. I have seen it happen in the Christian enterprise as well. People can get busy in so many good things that they forget the main objective.
Jesus’ last words to us are still on record: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1 :8).
A Bible Study Leader
Since much of the work in which your potential worker will be involved can be done in the setting of a small group Bible study, you must help him become an excellent Bible study leader. As he leads the study, he will discover that some of the members will become available to him for some one-on-one time, If he plans his study carefully, prays over it faithfully, and leads it effectively, that small group may produce some disciples and workers.
Two things happened in people’s lives when Jesus opened the Scriptures to them: their minds were enlightened and their hearts began to burn. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the
Scriptures to us?” . . . Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:32,45). In light of that, the potential worker must do his homework, pray, and be ready to lead the group from his own deep and thorough study. He must also share his application-his own heart involvement with the truth. Knowledge alone is not enough. It must be knowledge on fire, the truth of God made alive by the enlightening power of the Holy Spirit. It must be more than just facts, more than just excitement, more than just emotion. It must be a blend of honest, hard work, in which the teaching of the passage is dealt with correctly, and the communication of a holy zeal for the truth of God.
One summer I was involved with a training program for college students at Maranatha Bible Camp near North Platte, Nebraska. Dwight Hill was the leader that summer and I stopped in to see how things were going. I asked one of the staff how Dwight was getting along.
He’s doing great, ” the man said. “It’s really remarkable to see him in action. And you know, when he sits down under a tree with another man and opens his Bible, something happens!”
That’s the mark of a good Bible study leader. When he gets his group together over their open Bibles, something happens. They leave the study enlightened and motivated.
A Sensitivity to Others
The ninth objective is for you to help your man in the area of sensitivity to others. He communicates with others by his speech, his attitude, and his actions-what he says and how he says it, what he does and how he does it. He must learn how to do the right thing in the right way at the right time; he must learn how to do the right thing in the right way at the right time.
Jesus sensitivity to others is our prime example. His approach to Zaccheus (see Luke 19: 1-10) was different from His approach to the woman at the well (see John 4:2-42). He dealt with Andrew differently than He dealt with Peter (see John 1:35-42). His invitation to the people to follow Him differed on various occasions (compare Matt. 11 :28-30 with Luke 9:23-26). He touched each situation with exactly the right word in exactly the right way. There was no “standard approach.” He did not blast His way through humanity like a tank. Instead, He had the touch of a master craftsman in forming each life He was involved with into a thing of beauty.
The apostle Paul stated, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16). James had some clear words on the use and misuse of the tongue (see James 3).
A sensitivity to the situation will sometimes lead you to say nothing. On other occasions it will cause you to roll up your sleeves and plunge right into the middle of it. God’s dealings with His people in slavery in Egypt is an illustration of this point. He knew their sorrows, He heard their cries, but He kept silent for years. Then when his leader was prepared, He moved in with bold and forthright actions. He solved the problem at the right time in the right way.
A sensitivity to the sufferings and needs of people should not be confused with sentimentality. The utter absence of sentimentality in the life of Jesus is what makes His compassion stand out so vividly. At one point in His ministry He was approached by a man who had been cheated by his brother. “Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12: 13).
Jesus could have tried to comfort the man with words couched in tender and sentimental phrases. “Oh, you poor man! I feel so sorry for you. So your mean old brother is cheating you?
How awful! Well, cheer up. Things may get better. Someday there will be “pie in the sky” and all will be well.” But He didn’t.
His answer was classic. It was full of genuine compassion, not the lukewarm slush of sentimentality. “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? . . . Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:14-15).
His objective was to help these men. Their problem was covetousness. So He turned to both of them and tried to lift them above their present level of wallowing in the mire of a covetous spirit. One had the money; the other wanted it. Jesus tried to raise both of them to a higher plane.
Words can sting; they can wound; they can heal. A wise man will know how to give and take reproof. “Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning” (Prov. 9:8-9).
Solomon also said, “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word” (Prov. 15:23). “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances (Prov. 25:11).
The last objective you have with your potential worker is to help him to think. A businessman said, “I can get people to do anything except two things: think and do things in the order of their importance. ‘
Paul advised Titus, “These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you” (Titus 2: 15). What did Paul mean by the term despise? The word comes from a Greek root from which we get our English word periphery. The thrust of his injunction to Titus is for the younger man not to let people think mental circles around him and so look down on him as a poor thinker. The best way for a worker to command the respect of those with whom be is involved is to do the kind of thinking that will merit it.
To learn to think is to learn to keep alert, to be observant, and to keep your mind in gear. Dawson Trotman used to try to help us in this area. After we’d leave someone s house, he would remark, “Weren’t those beautiful drapes? Did you notice how they blended in with the color of the carpet?” Usually I would stare at him and be forced to admit that I hadn’t even noticed that there were drapes and carpet. He tried to help us learn to think by observation.
Solomon was an observant man and a thinker. `I passed by the field of the sluggard and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense; and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked and received instruction ‘ (Prov. 24:30-32). He looked . . . and learned.
The person who has to have everything spelled out for him will miss many valuable lessons in life. So try to help your men learn to make disciples by being alert to what goes on around them. Help them think through on the consequences of their actions. “If we do this, will that occur? If that occurs, will this take place? If this takes place, is that likely to result? Do we want that result? No? Then let’s not start down that road in the first place.
With these ten training objectives you have worked on things that affect the attitudes, personal life, spiritual development, and ministry skills of your potential worker. As you look over the list, you may want to add some or delete some. They are not intended to be hard and fast rules, but illustrative of the kinds of qualities that are necessary to equip the worker-the “harvest worker.
Earlier we looked at training objectives (Chapter 6 and Appendix 1) that were part of the establishing process that helped your man grow from being a convert to becoming a fruitful, dedicated, mature disciple. These ten objectives are part of the equipping process that results in a committed, knowledgeable, productive worker. Illustrated, it looks like this:
In this diagram we can see the man in perspective. He is now equipped to reach out in evangelism, resulting in converts, and then establish these new Christians to make them disciples.
You may find it valuable to think through on each of these objectives in the same way you did the earlier ones. Make your own check sheet, defining the objective, listing the activities you would use, finding additional materials, and writing down the Scriptures you would share.