It’s Time to Change Your Discipleship Focus

How does a group of 120 people only take three centuries to introduce half of the inhabitants of the then-known world to Jesus? This happened because:

  • They saw the world through the eyes of Jesus. “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
  • When Jesus said to make disciples of all nations, He did not intend for our disciple-making to begin with those who are already churched Christians. Jesus saw us making new disciples out of those who are not yet followers of Jesus.
  • Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

These three factors take TIME and a different WAY of doing Church. It starts with honestly evaluating our current approach. How much time is devoted to connecting with those who do not know Jesus and /or encouraging others to do so? We probably devote most of our time to spiritual disciplines, pastoral care, administrative issues, teaching and preaching, fund-raising and running programmes. And, in larger churches, we may spend time trying hard to attract people from other churches. The list is endless and we will constantly be seeking workers to fill jobs and have limited time to turn outward and turn others outward.

In our current situation, with the restrictions brought about by Covid-19, many pastors and leaders have more time on their hands. Perhaps, instead of continuing to do what we have always done, this is an opportune time to ask the Father to give us some new contacts in the harvest and to encourage our people to do the same.

Leaders, to be effective, must not just focus their attention on doing things, but must also give attention to increasing their capacity for production so that they may see even greater results for their effort. As we reap the harvest, we must simultaneously increase the capacity for a greater harvest. (Logan, Cole 2005)

If we are praying for workers, praying for a greater harvest or praying for God to move through revival, then we must also increase the capacity we have to deal with that harvest. This is done by starting in the harvest and raising up reproducing disciples followed by reproducing leaders. This idea forms the basis of what is called a “Leadership Farm System” which is a kingdom-centred approach not a church-centred approach.

The multiplication of disciples and leaders will prepare the way for the starting and multiplication of churches and ministries.

Our 9-year old granddaughter loves netball. Young children begin their netball journey at age 7 with what is called in her club NetSetGo. It is the beginning of a “farm system” that starts with raw, unskilled juniors and takes them through a long-term process where there is the potential to become not just well-developed players but captains, coaches, umpires, team managers etc. In these first few years, she is learning basic skills, cooperation with others, passion and enthusiasm for the game and trying out different team positions under simplified rules and strategies. It takes about three years for a player to reach the stage where she is graded, begins to operate in a more permanent position on court and understands the parameters of the game. She talks enthusiastically with others who also want to begin their netball journey.

This illustration has limitations but it is not unlike the early discipleship years where we begin with “raw recruits” in the harvest and take them on a journey towards Jesus. What we see now is just the beginning. We need God’s perspective to see what they may become.

One Church of 120 people looked at the world in a different way, through the eyes of Jesus, and look how God used them. What could happen if you looked at the world through the eyes of Jesus?

This is the second Blog on the subject of a Leadership Farm System. As well as Blog articles we will use v-blogs and stories to illustrate the subject matter with an occasional online forum using Zoom for a more interactive session. Stay tuned! Your questions and feedback are always welcomed.

2 thoughts on “It’s Time to Change Your Discipleship Focus

  1. Agree totally Col, ‘Success breeds success” – my mentors said in my early sales training, when I moved from a ‘sales person’ to a ‘Sales Manager’ I trained sales persons to look ahead so one day they would/could be managers………they did. When I morphed from a ‘Sales Manager in a Corp, I aspired to, and became a business owner, who employed (trained-up) men from former sales positions (managers/salesmen) to in turn then becoming business owners (after my famed ‘Strategic Coach’ 3yr international sojournes in the USA) – today most I knew are now successful bus owners, with sales managers training salesmen. Peter & Co, under the stewardship of Christ did likewise with the harvest!

  2. Thanks John. When Jesus said “go and make disciples of all people groups (nations) he wasn’t talking to a few people, He was talking to all of us. It’s not possible to even reach the people groups around us with our current volunteer/leaders so unless we make disciples who multiply we are living in disobedience to Jesus.

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