As I minister around Australia, Africa and Europe I am confronted with a chilling set of words, “I would love to study the Bible but I can’t afford it!”
After 25 years of being involved in ministry training and discipleship, I find myself asking the question how did we get here?
Jesus told his disciples, … go and make disciples of all the nations, …. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you (Matthew 28:18-20). The disciples of Jesus for the last 2,000 years have made disciples and will continue to make disciples but I am convinced we can disciple so many more people.
Somehow discipleship, discipling others and being discipled now has an economic disincentive attached to it. Somehow we have made studying the Bible in Bible Colleges, Universities and Seminaries unaffordable and unattainable for all but the privileged few. Colleges, Universities and Seminaries where never designed for discipling but rather for training people to become pastors, leaders and researchers, all of which are needed in the discipleship journey but they were never meant to become the disciplers.
We were not commanded to build Colleges, Universities and Seminaries. We are commanded to make disciples and teach disciples. A task the Church has successfully undertaken for 2000 years. A task that should never have been outsourced to Colleges, Universities and Seminaries. Discipleship has always relied on one believer sharing their life and their knowledge of the Bible with another believer.
So where have we gone wrong?
The Bible tells us that (Ephesians 4:11-12) it is the role of the five-fold ministry gifts to equip God’s people to be the disciplers. It is the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers that need to be the highly trained experts of the Bible. These five-fold ministry gifts then equip believers to impart, disciple and share with other believers and so on. We have somehow entered into a codependent relationship between professional pastors and passive believers. The common phrases I hear from the pews is, “I can’t do that!” and “I’m not a Bible scholar.” One way or another we have come to believe that we need to be an expert in all things Bible before we can share anything about the Bible.
We need to go back to discipling the way it was intended to be. The gifted and called devote their lives to study of the word and the equipping of the believers. Believers, to sit under the teaching of devoted five-fold ministry gifts and use what they have learned and share it with others. If we require believers to become experts discipleship fails. If we require believers to become professionals discipleship fails. If we don’t take what we have learned and share it with other believers discipleship fails.
At Axx we are building a resourcing and discipling platform that will allow the pastors and leaders to gain the expertise they need to be great five-fold ministry leaders and equippers of believers.
At Axx we are equipping the believers with access to resources and training from devoted five-folded ministry leaders who want to equip believers to become disciplers.
At Axx we are telling the stories of people who are getting out there and discipling others in their communities, churches, workplaces, schools and families.
How did we get here? We got here by professionalising discipleship and disempowering believers.