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Although Jesus' method to reach the world was primarily done through His discipleship of the apostles, discipleship of leaders seems to be non-existent in much of church culture today. Let me first clarify what I am speaking of when I use the term discipleship. New member's classes and other specialty classes where there is a teacher/student dynamic scheduled for one hour on Sunday is very much a form of discipleship and is alive and well in many places. However, I'm speaking of the quality time of discipleship through fellowship and the outpouring of leaders into future leaders for the perpetuation of the Gospel.

Although Jesus preached in the synagogues, this would have never been considered His primary means of discipleship. Jesus was able to use cultural, contextual, and controversial events as they arrived during the course of the day to teach, because He spent time with His future leaders. Jesus freely gave His disciples the authority to preach the message, heal the sick, raise the dead, and drive out demons because He knew this would bring glory to God. He was not concerned about the popularity or the notoriety His disciples may have received because of the wonderful acts they were performing, in fact, He anticipated it.

To contrast this wonderful picture of discipleship, we have 1 Samuel 18, where under the authority of Saul, David was enjoying much success. In fact, his success led women to begin singing and comparing David's success to Saul's in a more favorable way. The success of David angered Saul and caused him to keep a jealous eye on David from that day forward. The inability of Saul to handle the success of his disciple divided their relationship and ultimately his kingdom.

I encounter numerous church leaders on a daily basis who have not or are not being discipled. As I inquire about the reasons behind this lack of discipleship, besides the response of busyness, the consistent response has been leadership's insecurity of their success. In other words, jealousy has and is stunting the growth of many leaders in the church today. This raises a very sad question - How can one be jealous of the godliness they see in others? We are not here to promote our personal kingdoms, and increase our fan base we have been called to spread the Good News and make disciples. The more successful a disciple becomes the greater the impact for the kingdom.

God calls Himself a jealous God because He has a problem with a false god getting the love from His people that only He deserves. Unfortunately, we have some men and women mentally assuming this posture as if the applause someone under them receives is taking away from the praise they so crave which only the Lord ultimately deserves.


Larry L. Anderson Jr. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of the Urban Programs at Biblical. He is also the pastor of Great Commission Church, previously located in the suburb of Roslyn, PA, but now situated in the West Oak Lane community of Philadelphia to provide a holistic ministry to an urban setting. 

Comments 

 
0 #4 Dr. Anderson 2012-04-03 12:12
Pastor Smith, I believe you are absolutely on point in your assessment of American Ecclesiology. When everything is distorted to assessing bigger as better we become more focused on building up our personal kingdoms as opposed to God’s Kingdom. If we were about God’s business we would do it His way by: (1) spending time with the disciples daily, knowing how critical their lives were to the sustained spreading of the Gospel and (2) by His Word, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
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+1 #3 Dr. Anderson 2012-04-03 10:30
Monica, I had to pray about your situation, because it does touch on some very sensitive areas. First, I would implore you and your husband to go to your pastor and explain your feelings of abandonment. Most pastors are so busy that the moment they think their disciples have a handle on the ministry, they quickly move on to the next crisis. Second, I would suggest prayer and delicate communication concerning the success of your ministry. I want to be careful because I don’t know all the particulars involved; however, pride and competition have a nasty way of showing up in the body of Christ. We must make every effort to show how our unified efforts are working to bring glory to God. Remind leadership that it was their training that aided in the success of your ministry and how at least three generations have now been blessed by their discipleship. Let them know you desire and need their continued mentorship so that together you all can do great things for the Kingdom of God.
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0 #2 Monica B 2012-04-02 18:04
:cry: I am so sad right now because I feel that my husband and i are experiencing the very same thing. Our pastors only hope for us was to grow. He taught us through decipleship the Importance of putting God first in our lives and giving up everything for him. So now we are and God sustains our every need. He has totally stopped decipeling us after he put us in ministery. It feels like we have been abandon, and left to figure things out on our own .. So when we came back from youth camp and to testify that 5 out 5 of our youth received Christ or re dedicated there lives the tension from the other leaders and himself gets real heavy. It feels God is doing a mighty work in us and they are trying to slow down God . How does one react to that?
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0 #1 Mahlon Smith 2012-03-29 22:52
I really found your peace helpful in getting me as a pastor to evaluate the discipleship climate among the staff with whom I minister. I wonder too if our current American Ecclesiology measures ministry success more by achievement of goals and acquisition of information rather than observable Christlikeness in changing attitudes and relationships? Could the jealousy of which you speak be a by-product of us trying to make Christianity more marketable? Your blog is a good word for the church world. The "Green eyed" monster must be excised from our modus operandi of ministry if we ever hope to grow through the craving of the pure milk of the Word. (1 Peter 2:1-2)
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