My anticipation of a monthly blog was much too optimistic in the midst of our son’s wedding, two extensive seasons of international ministries, beginning the revision of our discipleship resources, TCU football chapels (including a delightful bowl trip to San Diego) and allowing for the refreshment needed after thirty-five years of fast-paced pastoral ministry. So…this is a fresh beginning for our “monthly” blog.
God is enabling a significant realization of the one-on-one discipleship we described in the first blog. Over forty people have completed this rewarding process since mid-2010. Most are discipling others and some have now seen multiple generations of spiritual multipliers. We have discovered that Skype (or IChat) are wonderful tools for this ministry. A young businessman in Omaha is investing in others one-on-one because Ron “met” with him each Tuesday morning for several months. This morning I spent an hour on Skype with a college coach in San Antonio who is touching scores of players and coaches and is now looking for his first partner in this ministry. Later this spring I hope to start meeting weekly with a pastor in Chennai, India with hopes that he will be able to translate our materials into Hindi. We live in an exciting world and we are seeking to make the most of this opportunity (Eph. 5:15-17).
Alongside our work with men and women in the workplace or managing a happy home, we are also seeing the first fruits of our desire to encourage pastors as they refocus their energies so that one-on-one discipleship focused on intentional spiritual multiplication is woven into the DNA of their ministry. We are now meeting weekly with six pastors (three each for Ron and me) from diverse races and distinctive ministries (two Baptists, one Methodist, one Episcopalian, one in a Bible church and one Dallas Seminary student). They are united by their love for Christ and their desire to maximize their spiritual impact for Him. Like many pastors, these men have experienced the exhaustion of programs that keep people busy without preparing them for fruitful living. They know the need for dynamic leaders who look beyond managing an organization to launching contagious followers of Christ into their unique spheres of influence. Often after reflecting on the opportunity to commit to one-on-one discipleship for months, they are now making intentional discipleship a part of their weekly schedule.
Such pastors are marked by three qualities. They have patience to spend several months with a single person to prepare them for a lifetime of discipleship. As they build a relationship of mutual trust and encouragement that encourages questions and deals with personal challenges, both people are strengthened in their faith and encouraged toward daily faithfulness. It is not about completing eighteen sessions, but building a long-term partnership (meeting occasionally rather than weekly after they both begin with a new person) in spiritual multiplication. Such pastors also have perseverance that enables them help a developing discipler work through the issues that hinder his/her growth, realizing that only God can ultimately prepare and motivate someone for this strategic work. They also do not lose heart (2 Cor. 4:1,16) when someone they have discipled does not follow through on their commitment. By focusing being faithful themselves in light of eternity’s reward, they press forward in obedience to 2 Timothy 2:2.
Finally, such pastors have perspective that sees the opportunities of today in the context of an eternity where the people in whom we invest now become “our hope, our joy or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes” (1 Thess. 2:19). Certainly this blessing is also the reward of sound teaching, evangelism, serving, showing mercy and other ministries in large group and personal settings. It is not that one-on-one discipleship is the only or best way to impact people, but it can create a distinctive context for launching multiple generations of people prepared for all kinds of ministry in a wide range of circumstances. Most pastors struggle with the bureaucratic realities of vocational ministry. If you have an organization, you will have bureaucracy. But in the midst of programs with lesser or greater fruitfulness, seeing first-hand a person prepared for life-style evangelism and intentional discipleship along with other skills for fruitful ministry will encourage a pastor to finish well with confidence he has not labored in vain.
Pray for these pastors and those of their tribe we have not yet encountered.
~ Ken Horton