III. Personal Principles of Discipleship
What principles inform the way you lead people to maturity in Christ?
1. Prayer: the foundation of discipleship is prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit. Regular prayer for those you are ministering to is essential for your heart and their growth.
2. Teaching: regular, clear, and passionate teaching of the Word that casts a compelling vision of Christ and the Christian life is vital to forming right theology and living. Individual sermons or lessons may not be remembered, but the cumulative vision of Christ is carved on the imagination.
3. Multiplication: rather than trying to spend equal time with everyone, spend the majority of time with key people who have bought into the vision of the ministry, who can then spread that vision to others.
4. Sharing of Life: discipleship is not just teaching content but the sharing and impartation of life. It also means modeling and teaching people how to think, not merely telling them what to think.
5. Non-manipulation: manipulation (controlling or influencing the responses of others so as to render then non-genuine) is antithetical to the gospel. Anything that resembles emotional manipulation must be carefully avoided.
6. Motivation: The motivation for living for Christ is grace (a response of thankfulness because of the gospel) not guilt. Guilt alone has no value in creating life change. Rather than making people feel guilty about what they haven’t done, cast a vision of Christ and the privilege of participating in his kingdom.
7. Empowerment: Ministry belongs to all the believers; the role of leaders is to equip others for the work of the ministry. This means that people need to be empowered and released, not controlled or micro-managed. This also means that people should be given the freedom to fail. The willingness to risk and fail is more important than natural giftedness.
8. Experience: disciples need experiences of the Christian life, not just knowledge about it. This is why missional practices and daily spiritual disciplines must be taught and modeled. Debriefing, asking “what did we learn?” is critical to concretizing experience.
9. Communication: everything communicates something about your values, from the way your building looks to the amount of time you spend in each sphere of ministry. The responsibility of the leadership is to create structures that embody the values of the ministry that will enable the people to live out those values.
10. Size: the greatest potential for change occurs as the relational scale shrinks (the fewer the number, the deeper you can go.)
11. Encouragement: always believe in, look for and affirm the best in people. The ratio of encouragement to rebuke should be at least 10 to 1.