Jesus sent us into our community and world to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). Sunday School can have even greater impact upon lives and this discipling effort. In Discipling Outcomes from Sunday School, Part 1, I listed fourteen discipling outcomes which have potential to result from Sunday School.
In this series thus far, these are the posts with the Sunday School discipling issues addressed:
- Part 2 (biblical knowledge and understanding); Part 3(Christian worldview); Part 4 (spiritual disciplines); Part 5(obedience); Part 6 (life and behavior practices); Part 7(spiritual gifts and church body practices); Part 8 (love of God, neighbor, and self); Part 9 (connection, community, fellowship)
In Part 10, I will focus on ways a Sunday School class (or small group) can impact discipling through leadership training. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we become shepherd-stewards responsible to connect with, care for, and lead sheep. We are to share everything Jesus has commanded us (Matthew 28:20) until they obey. Thus, we become trainers of trainers.
Apprenticing is a natural method for delivering that leadership training. As we go through life and the paces of ministry responsibility, we take apprentices (and potential apprentices) with us. We let them watch us (and pray for us) while we live out Christianity and while we perform leadership duties. Then we ask them to help us to do so. Then after they have watched and helped, we drop back to help them while they perform the leadership duties. Then after a time, we drop back to watch (and pray) while they carry out those responsibilities. Then we ask them to enlist someone to watch/help them.
Some leadership training may be delivered in a leadership training conference or event, especially when we are launching new areas of ministry or when we are emphasizing certain responsibilities for more than one group or set of workers. For instance, a training event to train new care group leaders or training for outreach leadership in helping groups to build a prospect list.
As group members are enlisted in a leadership capacity, they tend to pay more attention, become more faithful in attending, and focus a bit more on being a good example. At the same time, ideally they are being led to utilize the spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences that God desires to use to build the body of Christ.
Affirmation is essential in encouraging these new leadership in taking these early steps. Debriefing following each leadership effort is helpful. Ask what went well and what they would do differently next time. Teach them how to be self feeders and evaluators.
Leadership expectations, job descriptions, accountability, and coaching all make the leader more effective and will tend to stretch the individual to grow as a disciple. This begins with prayer for a God-called individual rather than selecting a popular or charismatic leader. After seeking God’s leadership in prayer, then beginning apprenticing efforts even prior to officially asking them to serve is helpful. He or she may not be confident until you have helped them to take a few steps with you. At the appropriate moment, do the ask. Then he or she will pay even more attention to the leadership lessons you offer from that point forward.
Disciple your people by providing leadership training. Expect them to take responsibility. Encourage them to success. Watch them grow. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!