Understanding the Jesus Model
As disciples of Jesus, we’re called upon to create disciples; to be, in Jesus’s words, fishers of men. Jesus himself was able to create 12 disciples, the apostles, whose discipleship went on to change the world forever. The question we must ask ourselves as Church leaders is how Jesus was able to accomplish this in such a short period of only 3 years.
While the answer to that question may never be fully answerable, there is plenty that we as Church leaders can emulate from Jesus’s example. We know that He worked through compassion. We also know that He challenged the apostles at times, but He also affirmed them as well, inviting them into key roles within His flock, but also admonishing them for not considering the larger picture, or concerning themselves too much with the world of men.
In Building A Discipling Culture, we consider the many ways there are to break a horse. The first method is through using a systematic form of abuse. The second is by using the horse’s own cultural structure and communication strategy to welcome it into our herd. The latter method is the very one that Jesus used to create disciples, and likewise, it’s the same method we advocate.
A new horse, when entering the herd, must pass the litmus of the lead mare. The mare responds through a series of invitations and challenges to the young foal, and ultimately is welcomed into the fold. Much can be gained from understanding this process, because there are many similarities to the very methods that Jesus employed with His own disciples.
Peter was to be the “little rock” upon which Jesus founded his Church, but when Peter challenged Jesus not speak of dying in Jerusalem, He responded by referring to him as a “stumbling block” who did not have in mind “the things of God, but the things of men.”
Peter was thus invited to play a pivotal role in the founding of Christianity and the creation of the Church, but Jesus also demanded that he behave in a manner worthy of that role. That meant considering the world of God as superior to the considerations of men. It was a challenge to change his perspective.
The Jesus Model of Creating Disciples
The Jesus Model of Creating Disciples bears much resemblance to that of the benevolent horse whisperer’s. Effective leadership must be based on an invitation to a relationship, but also the challenge to change. In order for effective discipleship to occur, both elements must work in tandem.
Many churches believe that they need only provide a comfortable environment for their congregation, and they’ve lost the capacity to challenge their congregation in any meaningful way. This means not only challenging our congregation from the pulpit, but also, and perhaps much more meaningfully, we must learn to do it on an interpersonal basis.
More problematically, it often happens in small congregations that Church leaders, pastors, and a handful of volunteers are shouldering the majority of the burden to create a warm, friendly environment. As the burden and challenge of sustaining it falls on a small number of people, the desire and willingness to invite more into the fold diminishes. Burnout becomes natural, and discipleship falters. We look at this in more detail in Building A Discipling Culture, and discuss how we as Church leaders can take a more active role in encouraging others to take a more active role.