The Role of the Pastor/Teacher in Disciple-Making Movements

by davidwatson on September 9, 2013

There was a lot of consternation over the article about preaching and teaching not being effective tools for Disciple-making.  I think the church at large makes this case for me, as does any meaningful study of how people learn and put into practice what they learn.  That article did not negate, however, the role of the Pastor/Teacher.

By it’s very nature, Disciple-Making Movements are focused on non-Christians, and in bringing the Gospel to non-Christians in such a way that they fall in love with Jesus because of the Word of God and the practice of Christianity that was introduced to them and lived out among them.  The Holy Spirit uses the Word to convict of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment.  The lives of the Believers who brought the Word give a vision of what a change in life that would focus on Jesus would look like, and thus the first steps to change, dissatisfaction with the status quo and vision of how things could be different, are present.  The steps to be taken and the normalization to the new life choice are to follow, but may take some time, even years.

The early leadership of Disciple-Making Movement methodologies are usually apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic in their very nature.  They are driven by the message of salvation and helping others become Disciples of Jesus Christ.  They love meeting new people, and being used by God to intuitively know what is going on in people’s lives; and the Scripture necessary to bring about conviction of sin and how to move people to the change of allegiance to Jesus.  They understand the progressive revelation of Scripture and how this process moves people step by step from not knowing God to falling in love with Him through Jesus.  These first leaders who take the Gsopel to the lost are exceptional in getting people to the cusp of Church, but then they usually begin to run out of soap.  Their interest turns to the next group of lost sheep, and they leave the newly born Believers and fledgling church to mostly fend for themselves.  This is a bit of caricature, but it happens a lot more than I like.

The result is weak new churches that are prey for almost anything.  These new churches tend to flounder around, and only by accident and a few good leaders do some of them become really successful and transformational in their communities.

Herein is the role of the Pastor/Teacher.  These new churches absolutely need leadership in the role of the Pastor/Teacher.  The new church loves God and wants to serve and please Him, but has not been exposed to the full counsel of Scripture that teaches them how to do this in the midst of a life that is usually at odds with the surrounding community. It is natural for the new church to become secretive, introverted and withdrawn because of fear.  And without the Pastor/Teacher leader syncretism (the mixture of two belief systems) can be a threat.

The Pastor/Teacher is there to help the church know what it is supposed to be doing in the privacy of their homes, in the community, and at the gatherings of the church.  The Pastor/Teacher systematically takes the church through the Bible over the coming years, addressing the areas of development through a Discovery Process, and then exhorts the people for whom he is responsible to practice what they have learned and to teach what they have learned to their families, friends, neighbors, and workmates; so that it is not simply lessons to be heard, but obedience to the Word of God that transforms individuals, families and communities.

It is the Pastor/Teacher who will raise up the next crop of leaders who will fulfill the roles of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor/teacher.  The laborers come out of the harvest, and the Pastor/Teacher is the farmer who carefully tends the sheep of God; protecting them, training them, deploying them in partnership with the evangelism team, identifying those with potential and making sure they are trained as the next generation of leaders though knowledge, practice, teaching others and replication.

A Movement usually only needs one or two apostolic types, a handful of prophets, and several dozen teams of evangelists.  But for the movement to succeed, it needs a pastor/teacher type for every 10 new groups started in order to complete the good work started.  The biggest challenge of the leadership of Movements is the training of the pastor/teacher role from within the movement.

When this element of movement is in place, and when it continues the learning processes used by the startup team, then workers emerge, pastor/teachers develop, and a very healthy self-replicating church is born.  The startup team moves on to the next place without church, but the pastor/teachers stay in place, maturing the church and developing an army of leaders who will extend the Kingdom of God.

It is the responsibility of every Movement Strategist to make sure that the Pastor/Teacher development role is in place and that it is strong.  Without this element, movement will falter and fail.

We all think our role is the most important, but without each other understanding the place and limits of our roles, we will fail to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.  Let’s build teams who understand the task, the scope and sequence of the work, and the season of focus for each team member.  We need to recognize that Pastor/Teachers are the heavy haulers that make Movements work.  Without them Movements will fail, just as it would without apostles, prophets, and evangelists.

Blessings!

David Watson
From Thailand
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