Most cars come with four- or five-speed transmissions. Today’s Corvette sports a seven-speed unit. The car nearly flies at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour.
The purpose behind all multi-geared cars is efficiency. An engine doesn’t need to work as hard to get the vehicle moving in the lower-ratio gears. And as a driver shifts toward higher gears, the engine is free to deliver speed rather than pulling potential.
Let’s look at six shifts that can increase the speed of disciplemaking to a level necessary to change our culture.
Shift into multiplication mode
We need to recast our role away from ministry doers to disciple makers. We’re called to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12, ESV). Unfortunately, many pastors burn out because they do ministry rather than equip others to do it.
What does that look like practically for you as a leader? For starters, learn to stay away from hospitals. Train your members that they are the church and that the church, not just the pastor, should engage people when they hurt. We even encourage lay leaders to lead funerals, baby dedications and baptisms.
Shift into disciple making
Jesus didn’t seek converts; He sought disciple makers. His call was for all who would come after Him, including you and me: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19, ESV). Yet many of us find ourselves so busy doing ministry that pastors commonly say, “I’m too busy to make disciples. I leave that to others.”
One place to start is with your principle staff members. I look at my staff as though their names were Peter, James, and John. You should have an inner circle, and disciple making should radiate out from there—this includes freelance pastors working entirely with freelance volunteers.
Shift into gift activating
Too often, we look to fill slots in our ministry machine rather than help people discover and utilize their spiritual gifts. If we agree that every believer possesses a spiritual gift, one of our primary tasks should be to help them discover and implement that gift.
If you aren’t prepared for it, this can be scary. We don’t control the Spirit’s agenda. He has gifted people for things you never dreamed about. Once you begin recognizing gifts, you move people from spectators to implementers. They’ll invent stuff that doesn’t fit your tight paradigm.
Shift into permission giving
We need to move spiritual authority from “ours” to “yours.” We won’t win the world by aiding people in our ministry. They need ownership, not aid. Aid creates dependency; ownership generates strength. Ownership will come when we grant our disciples permission to act as the Spirit leads. The best-selling leadership book, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and A. Beckstrom comes to mind. The book’s premise points out that a “spider” organization is one where all authority is centralized while a starfish-like group generates autonomy. If you cut one leg off of a spider, it will live. Cut away two legs, and it can’t feed itself. But cut off all five legs of a starfish, and you get six starfish. Each leg will grow a new animal while the central body does the same.
Shift into hero making
Personal insecurity can cause you to seek the role of hero in your own story. Change that to hero maker, and you immediately multiply your capacity to change the world. Move away from self-promotion to relentlessly promoting others. Repeat the best stories of other people’s accomplishments until they become integral to the fabric of your movement. Celebrate, especially, those who move out on a mission, short- or long-term. John’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
Could you say the same on your deathbed?
Shift into Kingdom building
It’s possible to plant churches, even launch a network that is ultimately designed to build your own kingdom and bring glory upon yourself. If we’re going to change culture, we need to shift allegiance from “mine” to “His.” When I speak of “my church,” I’m referring to those people with whom I fellowship most closely in my journey. I don’t speak of it as its supreme leader but as someone fortunate enough to participate in what Christ is doing in and through us.
Shifting the kingdom building away from you allows you to move from ecclesiological self-gratification to long-term plans toward fulfillment of the Great Commission. You grow less concerned with adding and more concerned with multiplying disciples who make disciples.
We need to back away from touting raw numbers and instead learn to think in terms of ratios: What percent of a zip code attends church? What percent of our country follows Christ? Think like a movement maker—it’s easy if you try!
BTW, for more like this you might want to check my new podcast at The Ralph Moore Podcast.
Note: This article is adapted from Mega.Multi.Multiply a free ebook by myself and Todd Wilson. It’s available at www.exponential.org. Click on Resources and then Free Ebooks.