Jesus gave the church one task. Make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). More accurately, disciples who make disciples (2 Timothy 2:2). The process for making disciples was one, loving one another (John 13:34-35), and two, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom (Luke 16:16). As the early church did those things, the result was the planting of churches throughout the Roman empire and eventually the world (the book of Acts). As those churches were being planted leadership had to be developed to guide and lead those churches (Titus 1:5). And those men needed to be men who loved one another, the church, their families, their neighbors and the gospel (Titus 1:5-9).
Don’t let the lack of complexity of the paragraph above, simple as it is, fool you. It is filled with more theology and biblical context than almost anything I have ever written.
So what is the strategy for finding, equipping, and deploying such leaders? Those passages in the New Testament that talk about the qualities of the men we should be looking for to lead the church are pretty clear on the character issue. But they are relatively silent on how to find and train such men. So here’s my proposal.
Leadership Development Strategy
Step 1 You find leaders in a group context
If no one is following you in some way, you simply aren’t a leader. Period. Look for people who other people are following. Watch them. Test them. Check their character. Invest in them. (Compare Oswald Sanders, SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP.)
Step 2 You develop leaders in a one-to-one context
This is perhaps more controversial. Don’t Jesus and Paul model a more “entourage-discipleship”? Why one-to-one? Isn’t that slow and unproductive? It is slower, but it is not unproductive. I’m just going to throw it out here for now. Maybe we can explore why in the comments.
Step 3 You build leaders by holding them accountable
“. . . teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” Those are some of the last words in the Great Commission. They are also some of the most neglected parts of the Great Commission. The task is not just to teach but to teach to obey. That is called accountability.
Step 4 You train leaders by teaching the basics repeatedly
Foundational things are . . . foundational. You don’t graduate from them. You can’t neglect them. You can’t remove them. You must build on them. Further, they are the foundational things that new believers, new disciples, must have as their foundation. Leaders, pastors, church planters, MUST be competent in passing on the foundational truths of what it means to start, maintain, and deepen elementary spiritual disciplines.