Most agree that Ephesians 4:11-12 demonstrates God’s plan to grow and mature His Church. No matter which translation you read, the emphasis of the text is that Christ Himself personally gave the Church (among others) pastors to train His people for the work of the ministry. They are to build up the body of Christ by investing their time and energy in disciple making, which is the process of equipping the saints to maturity and works of service. The KJV says they perfect the saints to edify the body of Christ.
The life of Jesus and the Apostle Paul are models of discipleship. They were intentional, strategic, and relational. Equipping, training, and perfecting is driven by the Word of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, but it cannot be accomplished by the pulpit alone. Disciples are at all levels of understanding and maturity, so how does one effectively build ministry leaders in the local church? As a pastor, you evaluate your flock and customize a growth plan for them.
Bruce Raley is one of the pastors at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN. He uses the following matrix to assess their church family and to take appropriate steps to develop people. The vertical axis reflects involvement from low to high. The bottom axis measures the potential for effectiveness using the same scale. In your local church, there are people in each quadrant. Our goal is the top right, highly involved and highly effective disciples, but those people do not mature on accident. Each requires a different approach.
In the bottom left quadrant, this group of people are just sitting. You may have some of those. They may be new to faith or longtime proclaimers with no spiritual depth. To tug their heart strings, the pastor must challenge these people on a personal level to respond to God’s call. This group needs more than information from the platform. The pastor exhorts them eye to eye in a relationship of accountability. What is a disciple? What does it mean to be a fisher of men? One must see the spiritual benefits of engaging in ministry and the consequences of passivity. Raley says, you must educate these saints. They need to be urged!
In the top left quadrant are people who are highly involved, but not very effective. These saints need to be trained. They are trying, but may be frustrated. What specific skills do they need? In his book, Pipeline, Todd Adkins uses the following principles to help people develop the skills they need. The principles enable you to take people from the observation stage to the place where they are personally ministering to others. 1) You do, they watch, then you talk. 2) You do, they help, then you talk. 3) They do, you help, then you talk. 4) They do, you watch, then you talk. Whether you are training a small group leader, a greeter, or a children’s worker, this is an effective method. As they grow to maturity, they move to the top right quadrant and are now ready to train others. This is equipping at its best.
In the bottom right quadrant, are those who have skills and have great potential for effectiveness, but for some reason or another they have low involvement. They have moved back to the sideline and need to be reenlisted. This group is waiting to be asked and are often overlooked. They need to be personally invited to participate in the work of the ministry and it requires more than a signup sheet at the back of the church, a text or an email. A face-to-face encounter is so much more effective. We must appeal to them on an emotional level. They have received some training in the past, they just need to be re-engaged and then redeployed.
Finally, the top right quadrant is a group of people who just need affirmation. They are doing ministry effectively, making disciples, serving the church, and they are able to train others. The task here is to just encourage them and keep them motivated. These are your leaders, so don’t take them for granted. Celebrate the wins and learn from the loses. Live among them and provide a culture that supports them at every level. Show your appreciation, listen and continue to reinforce your collective values.
At every level, people have different spiritual needs and require some level of specific involvement from others to help them grow to maturity. There is certainly biblical knowledge to impart, but modeling is imperative. A wise pastor understands that he grows leaders through disciple making. As you look at this matrix, identify people in your church who are in each quadrant. Begin to take specific steps to educate, equip, enlist, and encourage. If done consistently, you will develop a pipeline of ministry leaders who are multiplying themselves. This is a slow process, but with a steady pace, the potential results are exponential.