Leaders, Disciples and Crowds

In the early 2000’s, I attended several conferences facilitated by SonLife Ministries.  The bottom line of these conferences was to lead ministry in the same way that Jesus did ministry.  As I re-visit those concepts, it has become reinforced within me that Jesus had three layers of levels of teaching.  Each layer was significant to the larger scope of the kingdom of God, but not all layers created equal vulnerability.

The closest group of people that Jesus taught, we know as the Apostles.  These are the twelve men that walked through life with.  These were Jesus’ closest friends.  These were the men that Jesus was most vulnerable with.  These were the men that Jesus coached to lead the future of the ministry.  These were the men that Jesus equipped to carry on his work.  Jesus knew that without these men, his efforts would not meet the full potential.  Jesus needed these men to keep the mission of God progressing.

These men were not perfect, but they pressed on the best they could.  In the pressing on, these men became the first leaders of the modern church.  The momentum has never stopped and it will continue as long as we carry the message of Jesus.

As church leaders, we need this type of group in our lives.  We need this type of group that we are most vulnerable with.  We need this type of group that we coach to carry on our ministry efforts.  We need this type of group that continues what our efforts began so the mission of God continues in the community.  Without this type of group that we coach and lead, the local church we serve will die!  Do you have this type of group in your life?

Jesus taught a second group of people; we know this group as the disciples.  The Gospels reveal different times when Jesus teaches group around the size of 100.  This group is committed to following Jesus.  This group believes who Jesus claims to be.  This group is looking for a better life because of the time spent with Jesus.  This group seeks out Jesus.  This group wants something different.  This group is not satisfied with their current status.

This group is important to every church.  This group volunteers for ministry teams.  This group contributes financially. This group hosts and teaches small groups.  This group breathes life into the church.  This group pushes the church to become more effective in the community.

As church leaders, we often deceive ourselves of who is actually in this group.  We often think every person who attends a worship service is in this group.  A leading problem with this deception surfaces when we become frustrated we people are not contributing, serving and breathing life into the church.  Too often, the frustrations we have with our church could be solved if we simply understood our congregations and categorized them correctly.

Jesus taught a third group of people; we discover this group to be nothing more than a crowd.  This group of people was drawn to Jesus because he healed people.  This group of people came to check out Jesus because he fed thousands of people at one time with very little food.  This group people enjoyed hearing Jesus teach because he often “called out” the spiritual leaders that tormented the Jews with their rules and regulations.  This group of people never really bought what Jesus taught and often left when he said something they didn’t want to hear.  This group of people was very casual in how they approached Jesus.

Churches across our country are filled with people who should be placed in the “crowd” category.  Churches are filled with people who are casual Christians.  Churches are filled with people that were tormented by rules and regulations when they were younger.  Churches are filled with people who are investigating who Jesus is.  Churches are filled with people who want to know that Jesus is worth following.

As church leaders, we forget this group of people exists.  We forget there is a segment of our congregation that was burned by a church when they were younger.  We forget there is a segment of our congregation that is investigating whether Jesus is worth following.  Church leaders, too often we forget to talk to this group of people.  We want them to be in our church, but we assume they are disciples as soon as they walk in.  When they walk away, we think we did something wrong.  We did!  We expected them to be a disciple before they were ready.

Church leaders, are you caring for all three groups of people?

Churches across our country need church leaders that will faithfully equip, communicate and push forward each group of people.  We need to understand that each group needs to be communicated to differently.  We need to understand people will attend our church services without any previous knowledge of what goes on in that hour.

Church leader, how are you doing at communicating with each specific group that attends your church?  If you only communicate to one group, eventually that is the only group that will attend.  The result will become you leading a church of about 100 people.

I challenge you today to evaluate how to communicate with the three groups of people that Jesus communicated with.