Friday: Further Study: Discipling Spiritual Leaders

Further Study: Read Ellen G. White, The First Evangelists, pp. 349-358; The Last Journey From Galilee, pp. 488-496; and The Sermon on the Mount, pp. 298-314, in The Desire of Ages. The Training of the Twelve, pp. 17-24; The Great Commission, pp. 25-34; and The Seven Deacons, pp. 87-96, in The Acts of the Apostles.studymore

“All over the field of Christ’s labor there were souls awakened to their need, and hungering and thirsting for truth. The time had come to send the tidings of His love to these longing hearts. To all these the disciples were to go as His representatives. The believers would be led to look upon them as divinely appointed teachers, and when the Saviour should thus be taken from them they would not be left without instructors.

On this first tour the disciples were to go only where Jesus had been before them, and had made friends. Their preparation for the journey was to be of the simplest kind. Nothing must be allowed to divert their minds from their great work, or in any way excite opposition and close the door for further labor.-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 351.

Discussion Questions:

  1. In class, discuss your answer to Thursday’s final question. What can you learn from each other’s answers?
  2. Read Acts 6:1-6. Why does the incident here reveal one of the reasons as to why the church needs good leaders?
  3. Dwell more on this idea of a balance between experience and knowledge in the Christian life. Is it possible that different people will need different balances; that is, some people will put more of an emphasis on experience than they do on knowledge, while others will focus more on knowledge than they do experience. If so, how can we learn to be sensitive to these differences in our efforts to make disciples? How can we learn that perhaps what we need isn’t exactly what others will need? Also, look at this text: For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom (1 Cor. 1:22). How does this text reveal the differences between knowledge and experience?


Friday: Further Study: Discipling Spiritual Leaders — 14 Comments

  1. As a conclusion what can we say about discipling leaders? I think many of the comments this week say that the right relationship to Jesus is most important with prayer being the thing that gets us there.

    To me there are some other things that seem necessary also. One of the biggest problems that I see is the lack of training and in saying that I don’t mean videos and seminars in some room. What I am talking about is mentoring and hands on training which is what discipling is really about. Even though I have been an elder for years I never had a pastor come up to me and ask me if I would go with him to a bible study or to any other form of evangelistic effort for the purpose of training me to be a soul winner or a spiritual leader.

    Even though there are some (few) that do, by and large such things don’t happen which is not the model Jesus gave us. He was discipling those that followed Him, especially the twelve, for a minimum of two years. Unfortunately even the pastors themselves receive little of that kind of training. They get their heads packed with facts, learn theology and ancient languages and then are expected to perform like a professional trainer – which very few do. So they usually end up either doing the evangelistic work themselves or they tell their congregations to bring people to them so they can teach doctrine and baptize. And we wonder why the work goes so slowly.

    The situation, at least in the US, is so bad that one of the major evangelists I met refused to work with the local pastor of any church because he had such little respect for them. One outstanding evangelist I had the pleasure of meeting was one that for the one week or so he was in the area took our pastor out and showed him how to evangelize and work with prospective converts which our pastor was so very vocally appreciative of. He was also doing a lot of necessary ground work but because he didn’t have the upfront baptismal statistics that other evangelists had his conference fired him as an evangelist.

    As a sad commentary, the first evangelist baptized, I think, about 25 people. One week after the evangelist left we had two that stayed. What we found out was that he had attached those people to himself rather than to Jesus and the more we thought of his series the more we could see why that was so. The conferences loved him because they could parade the statistics while the one that did the real work of Christ was dishonored. I think we need a major change in the way we think and do things and I believe a change is coming, in fact, must come before the latter rain can meaningfully fall.

    • Tyler,

      I understand your frustration and am sorry to hear about your experience. I think that much of what you describe is true in many SDA churches. That said, there were many evangelists before Jesus came to teach and train His disciples. They were still trained by God (and His Spirit). Moreover, God does not necessarily seek qualified people but willing people who He will then qualify for His work. I would encourage you to proactively seek the training you mention elsewhere if your local pastor is unavailable or unwilling. The SDA church has a number of evangelical training seminars and programs. Less formally, perhaps you could go on some mission trips where I trust the Lord will give you the training you need to do His work. God willing, I will be going on my first one in July and have no experience whatsoever (save leading Sabbath school classes on occasion and minor deacon tasks). I trust that God will prepare my heart as well as provide the training I need to be an effective disciple for Him. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

      When we stand before our Heavenly Father and are asked to account for what we did with the blessings and gifts He gave us, we will be held accountable for what we did, not for what others failed to do. Lastly, while formal training in missionary work or evangelism is important, I don’t believe God’s work will stop for lack of it. His work will be done, if not by us, then by someone else. I pray that God will prepare our hearts to be His faithful missionaries near and far.

    • I can relate to what you are saying Tyler. A church I was a member of had an evangelist pastor for a while. During his pastorship, the church grew. The growth came from two areas. Some of the growth came from the evangelistic programs the church was running. The rest of the growth came from membership transfers.

      The Pastor and his wife loved God. I mean, their love for God bubbled over. They were very warm people and very accepting. It was a joy to sit in their living room in their house and just listen. It was a joy to be around them.

      When this couple were moved to another locality, the members began trickling away. I have had to ask myself why. The reason is not because of looking to the person rather than God either.

      What do we want out of Church? What are we prepared to put into Church?

      It is too easy to bask in the warmth of somebody else's fire. What we need is to be on fire. Why is any church cold? Why is your church cold. Why is my Church cold? (Actually the church I go to currently are very warm people but I believe the fire could burn hotter).

      What changes do I need to make in my life so that I can become a warm person. What do I have to do to help start a blazing fire in my church. This is the prayer we need to be praying. We also need to be receptive to God's answer no matter how unpalatable it might be.

      To be honest, I think everybody desires to be on fire for God. But we mistake comfort for godliness. If we are comfortable with it, it is ok. If we are uncomfortable with it, it must be wrong.

  2. We sometimes feel tempted to take the opportunity when we have lessons like this to take a pot shot at our leadership, our pastors, their training, and their trainers. I recently read a critique of the Roman Catholic Church (by a Roman Catholic) and the interesting thing was that the Catholic church has many of the same issues. I could have done a simple find/replace of "Catholic" with "Seventh-day Adventist" and the book would have still been a fairly accurate description.

    Armchair criticism is easy. But creating an active participating church membership is very difficult. It is worth remembering that our leadership is a reflection of ourselves. Every time we are tempted to say something like, "The Pastor should...", "What we want from our leaders is ...", "Why isn't the church doing ...?", we should replace them with, "Maurice Ashton should ...", "What we want from Maurice Ashton is ...", "Why isn't Maurice Ashton doing ...?".

    I am not always happy with what the church does, but making a criticism of the church is not an option if I think it is "their" problem and not "our" problem. Our church is our responsibility.

  3. That's one of our problems we should never forget who church it is. Jesus said it was His Church lets try and remember that. The word says on this rock I will build my church. Jesus is my Rock and we are his church. I'm in agreement with Tyler.

  4. God bless all those Missionaries who are in foreign lands. May the angels attend them as they work for Jesus in witnessing and hasten the Second Coming of Jesus. May God bless all the leaders, that they will be like Jesus. May God bless all the members to be faithful in all their duties.

    • Jeanette,I am sure that we all wish the missionaries in foreign lands to be blessed, but it becomes more meaningful if we know and can support and interact with specific missionaries. And I think it is also worth thinking about our "local missionary" - our minister. We should be praying for them as well. And when we do it is a good idea to think about how best we can interact with them and support them.

      As I said in another place, prayer is not just saying the right words, it is about living in a Christ inspired way. That is both the prayer, and the answer to prayer that our "local missionary" would appreciate the most.

  5. The fact that church leaders undergo a training to serve does not qualify them to take full responsibility as far as the saving of souls is concerned . I have seen regular members talented and active in ministry who have brought in more souls than any trained leader or pastor can do. I believe pastors and other leaders should mentor church members and create opportunities for them to witness, promote an environment that is all inclusive, where everybody feels free to participate, it is amazing how much souls the church can yield for Jesus. At the end of it all, let no one seek personal glory for the work which is not ours, we have just been given an assignment to, honor and glory belongs to God and he has a reward for everyone.

  6. While claiming piety some delight in the sound of their titles and qualifications repeated to gatherings or individuals as they are introduced and may even take exception if the credentials are omitted. They think it important to their calling, not realizing God is not impressed by their achievements. One of the reasons Jesus generally avoided choosing the more educated (with a few exceptions) to lead is to drive home the point that it is not by might, or power, or learning, or intellectual ability, or any skill or advantage we are blessed with, but by the Holy Spirit that the kingdom of God is advanced (Zechariah 4:6).

    Too often we lean on the arm of flesh thinking it is our right strategy or demonstrated goodness which is responsible for ‘success.’ When we have nothing of which to boast, and the little we do seem like ‘foolishness’ then it is the strength of God is clearly seen. For we can neither take credit nor share the spotlight with Christ. We simply decrease and allow the Savior to increase.

    • Sometimes I think that we are dismissive of those who are educated and who have dedicated their lives in service and leadership. Granted that some of us have to struggle with pride, but the educated do not have a monopoly on that. There are many educated people who are willing to share their wisdom and understanding and most that I have worked with are willing to listen to those whose experience has been developed by other means. Many of my colleagues have several academic qualifications they could not have taught in a tertiary institution without those qualifications. Most of them have had to rely on prayer, long hours of study, and support from family members to gain those qualifications. (my wife says that she want me to explain that PhD means "Putting Husband Through", and I want to add that I wear my doctorate with humility because I know what she sacrificed for me to do my study)

      All of us have talents that should be used in humility in the cause of Christ. None of us are immune from pride.

  7. It appears that there is some confusion as to what the title of the lesson is. Discipling "Spiritual" Leaders. This is somewhat different than the great comission of Matt 28:19. Luke 6:12,13 says Jesus named the 12 that He called, Apostles. The difference is, per the Greek, a Disciple is a learner. An Apostle is, one who is sent. An Ambassadore, a Commissioner of Christ. The account of the last supper in John 13:1-30 is a great example of the way Jesus taught His leaders, Apostles. We try to pattern our church administration roles after the manner which was used by Jesus. There was no corporate structure. Jesus was everything, and as such, makes comparisons very limited. To disciple a leader of any type largely depends on what type of leader is being considered. There are world leaders and there are primary Sabbath School leaders. One is certainly more likely to be discipled than the other.

  8. I do believe that we need to be willing to be involved with our pastor. When we create a team to prepare for the meetings 6 months before and plan to follow up forever, we are the most successful. I know we are not to put the success in our hands, rather to put the success in God’s hands. However, you remember the parable of the master who trusted his discipleship to his elders, deacons, and deaconess. The recognition went to the ones who increased their talents, refusing to bury them. We can help Christ make us successful by being willing to do our part. Any good pastor will lead his flock when he/she sees that his sheep don't need to be hog tied to get them to evangelize.

  9. Another account of Jesus teaching the Dispiles is the Sermon on the mount. Jesus seldom took the disciples alone to teach them. Rather he gathered a large audience to speek to. Matthew 5 and Desire of Ages pp. 345-358. Marvelous reading.


Please leave a comment long enough to say something significant and considerably shorter than the original post. First and last name required.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *