Leaders make disciples

Posted: November 29, 2012 by efenster in Ideas

I recently heard that a church leader isn’t a real leader unless they are making disciples.  After all, that is our mission as United Methodists, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.   So are you a leader?  Are you making disciples?

I struggle with this because I’m a church-a-holic.  I spend nearly all my time with Christians, in particular United Methodists.  I work for the UMC, I hang out with other Christians, and I feel most comfortable being with church folk.  Yet, Jesus was always going out to those on the edges–tax collectors, Samaritan women–and He calls us to do the same.

I ask for your prayers.  I’m a recovering church-a-holic and I am learning to do better in the discipling process.   I’ve prayed for God to help me see those whom God is counting on me to disciple.  This fall I’ve buddied up with two new neighbors, both of whom are young adults struggling with alcoholism.  I met each of them while walking my dog.  Pray that they experience God’s Good News through me.  Pray that they grow in their relationship with Christ and that I will too.

I was at a church-planters training event recently where I heard this statement:  “Don’t start churches to make disciples, start churches by making disciples” (Dr. Dave DeVries).  What a powerful statement!  And very appropriate for me because I’m part of a new-church plant in my neighborhood.  The church is particularly targeting low income persons who are in need of  recovery and wholeness.  It’s no accident God has connected me to my two neighbor friends.  And there are many others besides them.

So, who is God counting on you to journey with?  Who are you called to help disciple?  If you have a person or persons in mind, may God continue to help you build relationships with them, including relationships with Jesus Christ.  If you don’t have anyone, pray the prayer that I have been praying.  Pray that God would put in your path persons who are in need of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Then keep your eyes peeled while you walk your dog.  And then go, get to know them, and let them in our wonderful news!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development


  1. Shalimar Holderly says:

    Ed, I agree with you completely! However, I would also note that “making disciples” involves both the discipleing of non-Christians (ie: leading them to a first-time commitment to Christ) and the discipleing of Christians (ie: helping them to live into and grow in their commitments to Christ). Any church lacking one or the other (or both) of these areas of discipleship falls short of it’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The world is not likely to be transformed if we do not disciple both unbelievers and believers into greater faithfulness and commitment to God’s Kingdom.

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