How we spend our time, energy, and resources in the church matters.
Here is a scenario:
Church A has a youth group with 50 students. They have a gifted leader who is great at gathering large groups. This leader is a dynamic speaker, organizes epic events for kids, and is great at connecting with the kids on a relational level. This leader can truly do it all!
Church B, on the other hand, has a youth group of only 15 students. This leader is, at best, average in gifting and skills. He has the same passion but doesn’t have the skills or resources as Church A. But he shares the ministry with three other leaders. He spends time training, equipping, and pouring his life into these three leaders.
Which is more effective for the Kingdom?
At first glance, Church A looks like the more successful group. The youth group will most likely continue to grow. However, Church B now has the potential to start three other youth groups, because its leader discipled three other leaders. In the long run, Church B will reach way more students than Church A, especially if Church B’s leaders continue to raise up other leaders. This has the power of multiplication through discipleship. It’s much slower, but it’s the way Jesus set up His ministry.
Jesus’ main assignment and command for the church is the Great Commission. In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus commands His disciples to make other disciples. He tells them to go and do what Jesus has modeled and taught his disciples.
Jesus spent the majority of His time, energy, and resources investing in 12 guys. He had only three years to impact and save the world. Would any of us really pick this strategy if we were Jesus? This does not seem like the best way to spend your limited time, energy, or resources. After all, the disciples scattered and abandoned Jesus in His greatest time of need. Also, remember Judas was one of 12 guys. Now you are down to 11 guys who still have doubts, even after the resurrection (Matt. 28:17). Jesus, the main guy, is going to leave His ministry to 11 guys who had some doubts? This surely isn’t going to work.
But by the power of the Holy Spirit, the ministry and message of Jesus is multiplied. N.T. Wright describes that the book of Acts is a continuation of Jesus’ ministry that is multiplied through every believer by the Holy Spirit. He describes the book of Acts like a sequel to a movie. The Gospel of Luke is Part I of Jesus’ message and ministry. Part II is Acts and the birth of the church. He says, “We call it ‘The Acts of the Apostles,’ but in truth we should really think of it as ‘The Acts of Jesus (II).’” Before, Jesus could only be in one place at one time. Jesus multiplied Himself through discipleship and by the power of His Spirit.1
The Great Commission of making disciples to reach the nations is the primary task. But as a church, how are we spending our time, energy, and resources for the Kingdom? Are we focused on making disciples? Do we have a system of investing, equipping, and sending the church to create more disciples?
What does our schedule look like each week in the church? Do we spend as much time intentionally making disciples as we do on sermon prep, pastoral visits, Bible studies, etc.? My guess would be no.
J.D. Greear says, “If a church is not pursuing the Great Commission, it really has no point in existing.” 2 Ouch. That statement is harsh but true.
We can fill our time with all sorts of demands, but the primary purpose of the church is to make disciples. The church values discipleship by making it a priority in how we spend our time, energy, and resources. We have to intentionally carve in time to pour ourselves into others, or it’s not going to happen.
As leaders in the Kingdom of God, the point isn’t to make ourselves so great that no one could ever possibly take our place. The point is to make others greater than ourselves and work ourselves out of a job. We shouldn’t be insecure that others become better than us or that we aren’t needed. Jesus told His disciples they would go on to do greater things than He did (John 14:12)! Do we really believe in the priesthood of all believers? We will never win the nations for Jesus if pastors are the experts and do all the ministry.
Every believer is given the call to make disciples who make disciples. Will you trust the strategy and method Jesus gave His disciples? How will you spend your day, week, and month? How you spend your time, energy, and resources matters. We will either fulfill the Great Commission or continue in the Great Omission.
1 N.T. Wright, Acts for Everyone. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2008.
2 J.D. Greear, Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.