The Pastor and the Church in Disciple-Making

Mark Dever: From the Desiring God 2013 Conference for Pastors.

1. Centrality of the Church in Disciple-Making

Centrality of the Church in Disciple-Making from Desiring God on Vimeo.

2. Connecting the Dots Between Shepherding, Disciple-Making, and Meaningful Membership

Connecting the Dots Between Shepherding, Disciple-Making, and Meaningful Membership from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Raising Up Leaders

Editors’ note: This article is adapted from chapter 10 (“Raising Up Leaders”) from Mark Dever’s new book, Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (Crossway, 2016).

​Mark Dever is the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and the author of numerous books, including Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. 9 Ways to Raise Up Leaders in Your Church

Mark Dever’s Marks of Personal Discipleship

The New Testament is filled with instruction on discipling believers generally. But now and then it also focuses on raising up church leaders in particular. For instance, Paul tells Titus, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5). Then he describes what these elders should be like. Similarly, he tells Timothy to find “faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

In the same way, I’d like to offer counsel on how I’ve personally worked to find, encourage, and raise up other leaders in my church, whether to serve in my church or eventually in other churches. Many of the matters discussed below apply to discipling more broadly. After all, the criteria listed for an elder in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 should characterize every Christian, with the exception of not being a recent convert and being able to teach. Which is to say, the goals of discipling a believer and a would-be church leader are mostly the same. Continue reading

Denying Self and Following Christ

lloyd-jones2_12Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones

In this chapter I want again to consider verses 38-42. We have already studied them twice. First, we looked at them in -general, reminding ourselves of certain principles which govern the interpretation. Then we considered the statements one by one in detail, and saw that our Lord’s concern is that we should be set free from all desire for personal revenge. There is nothing which is so tragic as the way in which many people, when they come to this paragraph, become so immersed in details, and are so ready to argue about the rightness or wrongness of doing this or that, that they completely lose sight of the great principle here expressed, which is the Christian’s attitude towards himself. These illustrations are used by our Lord simply to bring out His teaching concerning that great central principle. `You’, He says in effect, `must have a right view of yourselves. Your troubles arise because you tend to go wrong at that particular point.’ In other words, our Lord’s primary concern here is with what we are, rather than with what we do. What we do is important, because it is indicative of what we are. He illustrates that here, and says: `If you are what you claim to be, this is how you will behave.’ So we must concentrate not so much upon the action as upon the spirit that leads to the action. That is why, let us repeat it again, it is so essential that we should take the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount in the order in which it is given. We have no right to consider these particular injunctions unless we have already grasped, and mastered, and have submitted ourselves to, the teaching of the Beatitudes.

In this paragraph we have our attitude towards ourselves presented in a negative manner; in the paragraph that follows it is presented positively. There our Lord goes on to say: `Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ But here we are concerned with the negative, and this teaching is of such central importance in the New Testament that we must consider it once more. Continue reading

What is a disciple?

This short article “Seeing yourself as a disciple, and the difference it makes” by folks were fairly confident, and completely wrong. They’d never been taught about it. Probably the most common answer was “follower.” After that came “apostle,” or “disciplined person.” None of which is true.

The Greek word translated disciple is perfectly straightforward and uncontroversial. It is ??????? (math?t?s), and it means “student, pupil, learner.”

That’s it.

What, you’re waiting for some deeply-spiritual, mystical sense? There isn’t one. And I think that in itself is really terribly important.

The way I’ve seen many folks approach Christianity in general, and church-selection and church-involvement in particular, has convinced me that they have no clue about this element. They do not see themselves as disciples, which is to say they do not see themselves as students, learners, pupils of Jesus Christ.

For instance, I taught one group of older (than I) folks back in the seventies. The focus was the book of Colossians. I introduced it, and I asked them in the intervening week to read the book. It’s four chapters long, and reading it takes all of ten minutes or so.

The next week I asked (casually, friendly) for a show of hands as to who in the class in this long-standing Baptist church had read Colossians in the intervening week. Not a single hand went up. Smiling, I went on with the lessons. No one was caned or assigned sentences.

Yet after the class one brother took me aside and rebuked me. He felt I had been out of line. “You made me feel like I was back in school!” he complained, clearly expecting that I would see that as a bad thing that I would want to avoid at all costs. Because we surely don’t want anything like that, right? Nothing where someone teaches, and someone else is expected to learn. Which is to say, we don’t want anything like discipling going on.

Christians simply do not see themselves as students who are expected (by God!) constantly to learn and grow, and never to graduate. So when it comes to picking a church, the thought of selecting a church which above will (hel-lo?) teach them the Word of God simply is not a priority, or perhaps not even a factor. When they evaluate a church, its music or furnishings or programs or a thousand other elements are central, but its effectiveness in teaching them God’s Word is not.

But even once they have selected a Bible-teaching church, even then this concept seems to fall by the wayside. They sit and stand, sing and pray; they watch the pastor. They go home, they have lunch. They’ve already forgotten what happened. So how were they disciples? Surely, if they seriously saw themselves as disciples, they would have taken some steps to make sure that the service contributed to their growth as disciples?

Perhaps someone is thinking, “I don’t see the Bible making the big deal about this that you’re making.” No? How about this?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
“Make disciples” (math?teusate) is the lone imperative verb in the Greek text, so it is the anchor-thought. The rest supports this activity. The presence of Jesus is guaranteed to the church as it engages in this activity — making disciples, pupils, students, learners.

“Oh, huh,” you say. “I always thought that was about evangelism.” Evangelism is included, but it’s just the introduction to the whole enchilada, the discipleship enchilada.

But did you know that Jesus defined, in so many words, what it meant to be a genuine disciple? He did in a number of ways, but in our connection one passage stands out: John 8:31-32 —

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Break it down:

•The path to freedom lies in knowing the truth.
•The path to knowing the truth lies in being a genuine disciple/student.
•The path to being a genuine student is in continuing in Jesus’ word.
Straightforward, eh?

Spread the word. Make it loud, plain, and inescapable: if you’re a real Christian, you’re a student. Your priority is to get taught, and to learn. It is to learn the words of God.

And if you’re not being a student, you’re not being a Christian.

It’s definitional.

Not optional.

And it should affect how we approach church selection, organization, and involvement.