by Mark Huffman, Entrust COO, Colorado
The world’s churches are full of dinosaurs.
Many of our churches have leaders with big heads and little hands. They know a lot (big heads), but don’t know how to do ministry (little hands).
We have taken the wrong approach to building leaders.
I grew up in a great church. I went to a solid Bible college. And I became a dinosaur. I had all of this knowledge in my head, but my hands were useless. I could do little ministry.
We have created dinosaurs! What went wrong? I think we tried to do things the easy way, the fast way. But that is not God’s way and it was not Paul’s way.
How did Paul build leaders?
1 Thessalonians 2 tells us. It’s the heart of Paul’s ministry.
“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thess 2:7-12 ESV)
I see four things at the heart of Paul’s message which address the dinosaur problem.
First, according to verses 7-8a, how did Paul approach ministry? Like a “nursing mother.” “Affectionately desirous.” I see a commitment to personal attention, to love.
I was a dinosaur until a man named Mark Kremer gave me personal attention. We met one-on-one two or three times a month. He took interest in my personal life and in my spiritual life. He encouraged me. He loved me. And I grew.
Second, according to verse 8b, how did Paul approach ministry? “Gospel of God.” I see a commitment to God’s word.
When I met with Mark, we didn’t have a big agenda. We talked about our struggles and victories, about ministry. Mark always pointed me back to scripture. He often asked, “What does the Bible say about that?” And I grew more.
Third, according to verses 8c-9, how did Paul approach ministry? Shared “our own selves.” “Worked night and day while we proclaimed the gospel.” I see a commitment to modeling.
Mark did ministry with me. When Mark was getting ready to teach something, we worked through it together. After he taught, we met to discuss it. Then it became my turn to teach. When I was getting ready to teach, we worked through it together. After I taught, we met to discuss it. It worked the same way with sharing the gospel, with leading a Bible study, counseling and so on. And I grew even more.
Fourth, according to verses 10-12, how did Paul approach ministry? “You are witnesses.” “Like a father with his children.” I see a commitment to serving.Mark took time for me. When my girlfriend broke up with me, Mark came to visit. If I had money problems, Mark could help me. Mark always had time for me. Mark served me and I grew.
What do we call this kind of ministry, ministry incorporating personal attention, commitment to God’s word, modeling and serving? In the Great Commission, Jesus said go and make dinosaurs?
No! Go and make disciples. Mark discipled me. And Mark built my character and taught me how to serve. This brought about a dramatic transformation in my life. This changed me from a dinosaur into a discipler.
This is the heart of Paul’s ministry. Disciple making is what Paul did. This is how Paul did it. May we imitate Paul as Paul imitates Christ. May we entrust to others this ministry of personal attention, commitment to God’s word, modeling, and serving. May we all, like Mark Kremer, equip others to make disciples and not dinosaurs.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2017 Engage.