This post is an overview of the relevant topic; how leadership affects discipleship and vice versa. If we, as church leaders, want to see people grow in discipleship, we must recognize that good leadership is needed. We need strong leadership in order to guide people through the process of discipleship. This is to say that without good leadership, the likelihood of people becoming great disciples is very low. This is of significant importance in the Kingdom of God, who’s Great Commission was to make disciples of all nations.
How does leadership affect discipleship? Discipleship does not happen by itself, it happens when leadership is intentional in guiding others through the discipleship process.
So, it is correct to say that to have good leadership, we need strong disciples. The disciples are the future, turning into the leaders that the church seriously needs for new disciples.
The Quote Explained
Leadership without discipleship is a waste of time. Discipleship without leadership is a pipe dream. —Larry Osborne
The quote by Larry Osborn is referring to leadership pipelines in churches, and why they are so important. Having good leadership just for the sake of good leadership or for having a profitable business may seem great now, but it has no impact on the future of the church. This type of leadership is a waste of time if they do not make disciples because then there is no eternal impact.
Discipleship does not happen by itself. It is important to remember that it is impossible to create disciples without leaders, but without disciples, there will be no future leadership. The most effective reason for leadership is to make disciples of Jesus and to raise up leaders for the future.
Why Leadership Without Discipleship is a Waste of Time
What would a church look like if the leaders did not focus on discipleship? The church would suffer. Ultimately, our goal is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), to make disciples of all nations. Our number one goal is to disciple others and to be disciple-makers. The churches that grow, are churches that have people growing in discipleship. In the end, a church that does not have disciple-makers, are churches that do not grow numerically, spiritually, or in influence in their local community.
A church can have leaders who understand leadership techniques, management, and have all of the wisdom in how to lead a team. Yet, if they are not intentionally utilizing that wisdom for the purpose of making disciples, you end up with a bunch of people with a bunch of useless wisdom. The leaders are not actually applying the wisdom in a way that a church should be, which is to make disciples.
Why Discipleship without Leadership is a Pipe Dream
Leadership is the building block that aids people to become disciples.
A church that does not have leadership, but only has discipleship, will not be effective in making more disciples. If the church is focused on people growing to become stronger disciples with a lack of leadership, the discipleship process will happen very slowly or not at all. It takes leadership to move through the discipleship process. If these leaders don’t exist, a lot fewer people will be discipled (if disciples are even made in the first place).
There are many churches that do not have good leaders, and people say that they have not grown in discipleship. When these people move to churches with strong leaders, they have proven to grow deeper in their discipleship walk with the help of this new, strong leadership.
What Leadership & Discipleship Look Like Together
A healthy church is where the church leaders are really focused on giving their people everything they need to become great disciples. As well as encouraging and challenging individuals to become leaders themselves, sooner rather than later. This is due to the fact that those people can learn how to be leaders while being discipled simultaneously.
In addition to this, there are components in discipleship that some may consider “worldly”, but they’re actually great Biblical wisdom. These are tools such as organizational leadership and mental health care, which help disciples to become better leaders. These tools don’t need to be directly “spiritual” to help disciples become better leaders. We can help the disciples in time-management, budgeting skills or learning organizational leadership. This is actually beneficial, spiritually speaking, because with stronger leaders, come stronger disciples. Ultimately, good discipleship looks like a church giving a new leader everything that they need to become successful.
Churches frequently fail on the things that feel more business-like because they feel that these are not important, but they are absolutely important. Your theology and Bible teaching are expounded upon when a church has good administration and techniques from organizational management. Teaching people theology is just as important as teaching disciples how to manage finances, it is of equal importance.
Give your congregation everything they need whether it seems directly related to discipleship or not.
“How can one grow in both leadership and discipleship”? This is the important question to ask now. Here are some reading suggestions, along with summaries and blog posts, to help one grow in both leadership and discipleship.
“The Sheperd Leader” by Tim Whitner
Summary: “Leaders in the church are called to be shepherds, not a board of directors. This requires involvement in a personal shepherding ministry among the people. The Shepherd Leader unpacks the four primary ministries of shepherds — knowing, feeding, leading, and protecting — on macro (churchwide) and micro (personal) levels, providing seven elements to be incorporated into an effective shepherding plan”.
Ideas of the book:
- Christ Himself is the Good Shepherd.
- Biblical foundations of eldership.
- Accountability of leaders.
- Shepherding the ministry of Christ.
- Knowing your sheep.
More can be read here, Book Review: The Shepherd Leader, by Timothy Z. Witmer.
“Multiply” by Francis Chan
Summary: “Jesus gave his followers a command: “Follow me.” And a promise: “And I will equip you to find others to follow me.” We were made to make disciples. Designed for use in discipleship relationships and other focused settings, Multiply will equip you to carry out Jesus’s ministry. Each of the twenty-four sessions in the book corresponds with an online video at www.multiplymovement.com, where New York Times bestselling author David Platt joins Francis in guiding you through each part of Multiply. One plus one plus one. Every copy of Multiply is designed to do what Jesus did: make disciples who make disciples who make disciples…. Until the world knows the truth of Jesus Christ”.
Ideas of the book:
- Be a Mmker of disciples.
- Live life as the Church.
- An explanation of Bible study.
- The importance of the Old Testament.
- The importance of the New Testament.
More can be read here, Book Review: Multiply by Francis Chan.
Pastors and disciples alike, these books will be helpful for your ministry. We can use these resources to further the church by learning how to be both a disciple and a maker of disciples, while also being a good leader. Keep in mind that we can always be learning new ways to become a better leader and that by reading these books, you are off to a good start.