Marketing and Development Director
3 reasons why knowing what you are making matters, and 4 helpful steps you can take to create a description of a mature and equipped disciple.
As pastors and ministry leaders, we long to see those people that God brings into our lives come to faith in Christ, grow in maturity, and be well equipped to live for Christ, making more disciples as they go. It’s one of the inspiring reasons why we answered the call to work for a church…well, that and the pay, of course.
If we hope to be effective in making and training such disciples, it raises a significant question, “What is an adequate description of a mature and equipped follower of Christ?” In other words, what are we supposed to be making exactly?
This brings up the useful disciple-making practice of starting with the end in mind and returning to it often along the way. Like an artist looking back and forth from the canvas to her inspiration she is hoping to capture and recreate, as disciple-makers we would do well to have in front of us a picture of what we are trusting God to help us make and train well.
Now, I’m no Bob Ross, but as someone who has made his fair share of “happy little mistakes” when discipling others, having a description of a mature and equipped disciples has kept me from making many more. The best part is, regularly returning to this description has increased my interaction with the Lord regarding those he has given me to lead and my dependence on Him to bring growth in their lives and mine.
I’m truly thankful for the mentors who have shared and modeled this practice with me. So, for all my disciple-making friends out there, here are 3 reasons why knowing what you are making matters, and 4 steps you can take to create a description of a mature and equipped disciple.
1. Decreased Frustration and Increased Clarity
Where would we be if IKEA didn’t give us pictures of the lofted bed/desk combo we need to put together from a box of random pieces? Just looking at the pieces makes you question whether you grabbed the right boxes off the warehouse shelf. Without the pictures it’s almost a guarantee, frustration will find you as you realize you put that one, annoyingly difficult to attach piece, on backwards.
When it comes to making disciples, we would do well to have in mind and down on paper a description of what we are trusting God to produce as we invest in discipling others. In Discipling others, we are talking about us giving some significant time and energy with the intention of helping someone mature and be well equipped to go and do the same. I don’t know about you, but I want to make the best use of my time and theirs. I also would like peace of mind knowing we are focused on what’s most helpful and needed for their development. This comes as we reflect on the description and interact with God as to what is best to focus on in our time together.
2. Alignment on Mission
What might happen if you and your fellow disciple-making leaders had a description of a mature and equipped disciple? Think of how it would be to have a picture of what you long for, for those God has called you to lead and for the good of the mission Christ gave us. How might that inform your decisions, guide your next steps, and even help fuel your hearts? At the very least, if you know what you are aiming for, you can more easily know what to say yes to and what to say no to with your efforts.
Consider this as well, how might an agreed upon description of a mature and equipped disciple help you align your preaching and teaching, your staff, and volunteers, and all your ministries on mission? If you are all focused on building the same thing, you find ways to help each other and work together to accomplish it. It helps the whole body of Christ, each part doing its part (Eph 4:16). It is the blueprint for affordable and lasting church expansion!
3. Jesus…Because the Answer is Always Jesus.
In the Gospels, we see that our Lord Jesus was not just thinking about the mission that his disciples would carry on with the help of the Holy Spirit, but also the maturing and equipping that they would need. From the start and throughout, he casts the vision that he has for them, telling them what he is making them into, and why. (Mark 1:17, 3:14). You hear it again and can sense the importance of it as he sees the harassed and helpless crowds and then calls his disciples to pray for more laborers in the Lord’s harvest field (Matt. 9:35-38). In the Sermon on the Mount, he even paints a masterpiece of a mature disciple for us as he walks through the Beatitudes. (Matt. 5:1-12).
Let’s not forget about what we learn from Christ’s Apostle Paul. He too had in mind and close to his heart what the Lord had called him to make, utilizing all the strength God gave him by His grace. He said it was what he toiled for (Col 1:28-29) and what he was even in anguish to see fulfilled (Gal 4:19). It was a picture of maturity, as well as the grace and equipping necessary to build up the Body to maturity (Eph 4:11-16) and carry out Christ’s mission (Phil 3:12-17).
So then, what does a mature and equipped disciple who makes more disciples look like? How do you develop an adequate and useful description? Here 4 steps that have helped me when developing a description.
4 Steps to Creating Your Description of a Mature and Equipped Disciple:
1. Involve the right people
Yes, you could sit down by yourself and produce a description but think of what good could come if you included the right people. Who are the right people? You tell me. Who are those that will be utilizing such a tool in your church? Who would best help you ingrain it into your church’s ministries, strategy, and culture? Who are the ones that need to have ownership of it just as much as you? Who needs to be involved from an approval standpoint? Who has great discernment and can help you process well what is needed or still missing from the description? Who can help you all focus on prayerfully bringing your process of developing such a description to the Lord? Think of how much better and more impactful that description could be with the right people helping you craft it.
2. Examine the Scriptures
Once you know who is helping you create your description of a mature and equipped disciple, it is time to get to work examining the Scriptures. I would suggest that you start by pairing off and then coming together to share and compare answers. I have found it helpful to write each descriptor the pair finds on individual note cards so that when you come together as a full team again, you can lay them all out, grouping and combining them, as well as adding or subtracting easily. Below are the recommended categories to consider as you develop your description together:
- Head (Knowledge)
- Heart (Character; Convictions)
- Hands (Skills and Abilities)
- Eyes (Vision and Awareness)
- Relationships (w/ God, Self, Church, Others)
3. Keep it User-friendly
Once you have prayerfully thought through and narrowed down the descriptors, it’s time to put them into a format that is easy to use. Your leaders will need to reference this. It’s also helpful if the key aspects of it are memorable. This allows your disciple-making leaders the ability to have it in mind, on the spot, and as a mindset. Don’t get lost in trying to make some amazing acronym, just get it to the point of being what you all think is user friendly.
4. Bounce it Off Others
The big thing here is to be ok with someone else telling you your baby is ugly. In other words, you would do well to not let yourself be so attached to your description or wording that you won’t allow someone to help you improve it. There are a lot of wise disciple makers out there who can potentially help you make your description better, and/or give you feedback that puts your mind at ease that you have a good description. Who do you know that would be good to bounce this off of? I would ask one friend who knows your church well and another that doesn’t know it so well. It might surprise you what great insights each can offer.
Once you have a description, it won’t take long for you to start seeing the value it brings to you and your church as you put it to use. What might God do as you truly focus your intentions and efforts on making mature and equipped disciples by His grace? Want help with that? At Life-on-Life we help churches around the world ignite missional discipleship movements. We would love to help you do the same in your church.