When you dream about ministry, what do you dream about? That question is of the utmost importance, because it probably shapes your whole philosophy of ministry. Think about it. If you dream about leading a mega-church someday, it will shape how you approach ministry. When your church grows, you will look to put more money into bigger and bigger buildings. You will hire more staff members, but you will likely not look to raise up other potential lead pastors. If all of those dreams come to pass, you will probably be a conference speaker and have a few popular books. Let me be very clear, there isn’t anything wrong with churches like that. A lot of great ministry happens in churches like that, and lives are changed in churches like that all the time. But should that be the first thing that comes to mind when you dream about how God might use you?
Jesus called us to “fish” for people. He called us to go to those who are sick spiritually. He called us to go and make disciples. Jesus showed his disciples how to go about that, and they carried it on. They preached in large settings at times, but it was the day to day multiplication of disciples that really caused the Kingdom of God to grow like wildfire in the first century.
My point? When we dream about ministry, we should dream about a church that is full of disciples that make disciples that make disciples. That dream may mean that we don’t see all the disciples that get made and baptized (they won’t get counted). That may mean that other churches are started (That won’t add to your Sunday count). It may mean your church never becomes huge because of all the amazing disciple-making minded people you keep sending out. It may mean that your church always struggles with finances because it mostly reaches people who have never been in church instead of Christians looking for a better environment. On the other hand, you may make disciple-making your main focus and still end up with a very large church.
The question is: What is the driving force for your church? If you asked the average church member about the overall goal of the leaders for the church, they would probably say, “To teach us and grow the church.” The number one reason a pastor would be let go would be because the church is not growing or declining. Generally speaking, organizations with good leadership do grow. However, what could be healthier for a church than focusing on growing and multiplying disciples (the actual mission Jesus gave us)?
What would it look like for you to lead a church with the main goal of training people to make disciples that will make disciples? How would your programming change? What would need to go? How would that change who you hire? How would small groups look different? How would that change how you spend your time as the leader? Who would you need to invest in to make that happen? What would it look like to start caring more about the number of disciple makers you have than the number of attenders you have?