Make a Disciple, Make a Leader

In light of the recent launch of Ministry Grid, B21 will be running a set of three posts from different voices in the SBC on the importance of raising up leaders in the local church.

Our second post is by Kevin Peck, lead pastor of Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, TX.

Make a Disciple, Make a Leader 

“Every problem we have is a leadership problem.”

While certainly reductionistic, this phrase has been a mobilizing anthem and defining conviction for engaging the mission of God at The Austin Stone. Over the last ten years, we have encountered countless barriers to advancing the gospel, many seeming insurmountable. While we trust Jesus to accomplish His work, we have found that God’s answer is usually found in new leaders being raised up. While many churches will spend hours and hours designing and developing new strategies and tactics for solving the problems of ministry, we have found a very simple solution to most problems.

We develop leaders and leaders solve problems.

No matter how big the problem, no matter how monumental the task, God has consistently shaped history using human leaders. Broken…of course. Flawed…absolutely. Weak…you bet. Still, these people, despite all their shortcomings, are called leaders. So how do we make a leader for God’s mission?  want to solve a problem, make a leader. If you want to make a leader, make a disciple.

As the missional landscape grows in complexity, the fundamental method to engage mission and make leaders does not. Discipleship is God’s plan, plain and simple.  For all the conferences, books, and blogs about developing leaders, the fundamental way that God makes leaders for His mission is through discipleship.

Making disciples and leaders for the mission of God always begins, continues and ends with the gospel of Jesus. The primary content of discipleship is the Scriptures which unpack the gospel. The context of discipleship is relationship. That’s right, the good old-fashion, life-on-life, person-to-person, dirty, messy, teaching-people-to-obey-all-that-Jesus-has-commanded kind of discipleship. It’s not edgy, but it is true

We make leaders by making disciples.

The more I study God’s Word, the more I am astounded at what Christ did through the leaders He trained. What God did through twelve men in just one generation is profound. You take out Judas and it’s only eleven! Not many leaders can boast the ministry success of the twelve. Yet, when I look closely at Jesus’ method for training twelve of the most successful church leaders in history, I am perplexed at the simplicity of His methodology.

Jesus invested in a few to reach the many.

Are you investing in the few to reach the many, or are you investing in the many to reach a few?  Do you focus your attention and resource on discipling others to become leaders or do you continue to pour time and energy into the crowds alone?

Like Jesus, we must be committed to disciple a small, identifiable, accountable, and devoted group of potential leaders.  Large events, books and even sermons are certainly useful, but if we are to make leaders for God’s church, we must train others like He did. There is simply no short cut. The content without the context is weakened and dangerous. In fact, leadership education outside the context of discipleship often produces pride, arrogance and independence. When leaders are discipled, however, they learn first to obey Jesus. When this context is combined with the content of Scripture and the wisdom of other leaders given as common grace, it produces the kind of leader who biblically, skillfully, and gracefully solves even the biggest problems faced in ministry.

For many of us, the problems we encounter in our ministries seem impossible. The challenges appear insurmountable. The burdens are hardly bearable and have no end in sight. How can all of this be solved? Has God given us insight into the solution? The answer is plain in the life of Jesus.

Develop leaders by making disciples.

There is no better strategy for leading the church to health than to make disciple-leaders to join you in leading. Many leaders in the church have never intentionally engaged a distinct group of potential leaders in discipleship. For others, it has been far too long. Let me encourage you; there is no better time to start or start again than now. Your ministry depends on it.

While content is not enough, it is necessary.

In fact, one of the most important tasks in making a leader is filtering content to those you are developing. Recently, I have connected with those building Ministry Grid. Ministry Grid is an online tool that offers a helpful way to bring good content to bear on your discipleship group. Ministry Grid was built with disciplining leaders in mind. It is designed to help leaders make leaders by leveraging great content for transformational relationships.

KEVIN PECK has been the Lead Pastor of Austin Stone Community Church (Austin, TX) since 2004. His primary role is to lead and develop elders, deacons, and other leaders. He serves on the Advisory Council for Ministry Grid.