I thought I knew a lot about leadership, then God called me to be a pastor. Sifting through all the things I thought I had to do in order to be a leader and develop leaders was almost like sifting through things on an episode of hoarders. It was overwhelming. Things had become cluttered, as I looked at various tools, and expectations, I had to determine what to keep, what to save for later, and what to toss out.
A little context; Jesus saved me from a life of self-righteousness and grotesque sin when I was 17 through an inductive Bible study of I John. Though I was growing in grace, I was one of the disciple-makers that pointed at the church in accusation instead of rolling up my sleeves in mission participation. I didn’t understand God’s grace demonstrated to His bride, the church. In my mid-twenties, the Lord graciously humbled me of this cancerous thinking, recognizing that change happens within the community of faith. Now, I’m a little partial to developing leaders, especially forging male leaders, within the church.
Rather than starting with the “How To’s” to implement inductive study, or hooking you up with a few steps that I’ve learned along the way, the most important thing for you is to wrap your mind around the WHY.
Why are we to develop leaders within the local body of believers?
Once we understand God’s why to this question, we are much more likely to be motivated for the right reasons and passionately pursue them. Training and developing leaders or disciples is not just another program within the church, this is THE calling for shepherds to equip the body toward this end. It is the general call of all believers–glorify God by making disciples. If the church is launching more programs, events, and groups, without training disciples how to study and teach the Word to others, the church has experienced mission drift. Beyond knowing how to study the Word and teaching others, any good Bible student knows it comes down to application. Not just knowing how it applies, but applying truth not only to grow personally but also to edify and build up the church. Doing life with people and growing in grace and truth with a community of believers where you are known is essential as a disciple-maker.
As we understand His priority and God’s imperative to make disciples, we’d be well served to focus on the why–God’s ultimate mission in our lives and in the life of the church.
God is on mission to bring Himself glory.
All things exist and are being worked according to His pleasure and plan (Ephesians 1:11), which displays His glory. Glory is just the weighty awareness and recognition of who God is. Everything He does is toward the end of His glory covering the earth as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). God’s mission is to bring Himself glory, that He might be known and enjoyed for His nature and character, especially as the author of redemption and reconciliation. His great plan of rescue in Jesus in order to buy us out of slavery was for glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7, Isaiah 48:9-11, Ezekiel 20:14, Ephesians 1:3-24)
His mission has a church.
God’s mission and the purpose and mission of God’s church are inseparable. Since God’s mission is to bring glory to Himself, the church is the primary means of accomplishing this end. If God’s mission is to be glorified through the redemption and reconciliation of a people, the Church’s mission must seek to glorify Him through redemption and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 4 and 5). The overwhelming mission, then, of the church throughout the globe is to glorify God by making disciples through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us that have been changed are now ambassadors of reconciliation–representing our King to a lost and broken world. We agonize with the energy that God supplies to present every man whole and complete through the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel (Colossians 1:28-29).
In light of God’s and His church’s mission, how is inductive study a means to fulfill the mission?
I’d love to grab a cup of coffee and talk. There are things that Jesus is teaching me right now through the Word, in community with other men and through a lot of mistakes. If you’re not a pastor or decision-maker in your church, rather a mom or group leader, and you long to have more emphasis on inductive study, you’ll be well served by some of the other articles that will appear here in the next few days. My only suggestion to all of you is, don’t force it. Remember, I pointed the finger of accusation, so I know where you are. Pray for your pastoral team, serve them well, show them through your life and conduct the effectiveness before coming into their office demanding inductive study. Remember, as a believer and a disciple of Christ, regardless of where your church is in regards to inductive study, you can respectfully continue to use inductive study to make disciple-making disciples by the power of the Holy Spirit on your own and with others the Lord impresses upon you to disciple.
If you’re a part of the pastoral team, let me make a few humble suggestions that have been forged as I’ve determined to glorify God by making disciples in the local church:
Clarify the gospel
Never, ever assume the gospel with anyone. You, like me, may be in the Bible-belt where everyone says that they’re a believer. When in dialogue with those in your church, even in leadership roles, ask them about the gospel. More than what it is, ask them how it changed them when they believed and how it has changed them recently. Live, breathe and find courage through 2 Timothy and 2 Corinthians.
Have a plan; Go for the long haul
When I first arrived at my ministry post, I knew I had to not only clarify the gospel but see where people were in their knowledge of the Word. Though many people knew things in the Word, they had to grow into learning how to study the Word for themselves. I started teaching them inductively from the platform, in one on one leader training, and in small groups through the 40 Minute studies and NISS studies. Some were resistant at first. It was a struggle to graciously encourage them to stick with it, as some were stubborn, refusing to grow in grace. But they persevered. In a short time, the Lord has created an appetite within them for the Word, the application of it, and the multiplication of disciples with it. They are now leading studies in their apartment complexes, dorms and cafeterias at work as ministers of reconciliation.
The gospel hermeneutic
Countless authors and speakers have been noting the effects of what has been called Moralistic therapeutic deism. Get read-up and caught-up on this one. Stand guard and combat it as a shepherd. Every story and every command in the Bible can fit within the gospel-hermeneutic, the unifying and overarching story throughout each page of the Word. Be diligent to put things into context, but don’t forget the context of redemption. If you’re teaching on immorality, generosity, love, forgiveness or any “do this” text, please make sure that you explain the gospel-motivation. For example, if you’re teaching the imperative “walk” portions of Ephesians chapters 4-6, make sure that you show that it is in connection with the gospel indicative chapters of Ephesians 1-3.
Go for the heart
Please, don’t just try to modify someone’s behavior. If the guy comes to you that is addicted to porn or if the girl you’re discipling, ladies, has an issue with finding her identity through dating around, please don’t just deal with the behavior. Look past the fruit and behavior and allow the Spirit of God to take you to the root. What idol or wrong belief about God has captured their imagination to make them act in that way? Teach your people to use the Word of God to discover the why behind the what, the heart idol behind the action. For example, why did the guy feel the need to look at porn? What root-idol in his heart–comfort, power, control or acceptance–has captivated Him more than Jesus? In grace, go there. Apply the gospel there. Expect repentance there.
Don’t get cluttered with calendars and programs
Making disciples is tough. It requires face-time and authenticity. Making disciples in the community of the church is difficult and messy, yet Jesus gives us the model of entering into the mess. Develop a dependency upon the Holy Spirit for the disciple-maker to get involved in the life of the disciple. Yes, they need to hear you proclaim and teach the Word, but they also need to see you live and demonstrate the Word. Both Jesus and Paul modeled this for us. They taught, but they also shared their lives with their disciples. Fight to free your people from the hoarding mentality, thinking that they need to be at church every night of the week. Help them see how good things might be robbing them of the best in the area of making disciples.
To sum up, use of inductive study for gospel -centered discipleship with the right heart and motivation is the time proven way of making God-glory getting disciples. Keep the mission of God and the mission of His bride ever before you as you fulfill the call to “entrust the gospel to faithful men who are able to teach also (2 Timothy 2:2).
Jeremy Lucarelli firmly believes that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything—individuals, families, groups, churches, neighborhoods, and cities. He is a grace-addicted, compelled disciple-maker, currently serving as both a Precept Trainer and Pastor to 18-35 Year Old Singles in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex. He lives in big Texas with his beautiful wife Becky and his two kiddos–Isabella and Josiah, but calls the Tarheel state his home.