TEACHING OR TRAINING?
Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we discovered some significant truths about God’s kingdom economy, that God rewards us based on what we give away.
In today’s post, we will learn about the impact of changing the focus of activity from teaching to training.
At every missions conference we talk about the Great Commission. It is found in several places in the gospels, but is most often referenced from Matthew 28.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”– Matt. 28:18-20 NIV
This verse speaks of actions we all can be involved in. It tells us to;
2) make disciples of all nations
3) baptize them and
4) teach them to obey.
Ying Kai and Steve Smith, authors of the book, T4T A Discipleship Re-Revolution, speak of how we are Trainers of Trainers. Ying uses the word trainer for a disciple maker.
Do you see yourself as a Trainer of Trainers? For many years I saw myself as a teacher. What I didn’t see was that I was to train the people I taught until they could train others! Instead of seeing myself as a teacher, passing on knowledge and information, I began to see myself as a trainer and those who were learning from me as those who in turn would immediately train others. I am a Trainer of Trainers- A Disciple Maker.
I train one person to follow Jesus and obey His commands, they go and train another, who trains another. In this way the Kingdom multiplies and grows. We call this engaging the one to reach the many.
Making disciples of Jesus (trainers of trainers) is a crucial task not only for pastors, spiritual leaders and missionaries. This is the task of every believer. This is the task of everyone who is a disciple of Christ. As basic as it seems, why do so few get involved directly in disciple making? Why don’t we see ourselves as trainers of others?
We have settled for a model far short of what Jesus taught. Why? There are numerous answers to this question. We could blame anyone from Constantine to today’s clergy for not placing more emphasis on empowering local believers to do the work of the ministry. Blaming them would serve no real purpose, though sometimes it can be helpful to understanding the process that led us to the situation the church is in today.
You see, if you are focusing only on teaching and not training, you are not creating the kind of wise people Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:24-27. The wise man or woman is the one who hears the word and does what it says (is trained). The foolish man or woman is the one who hears the word but does not do what it says (is not trained).
And Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that the reason that Jesus gives some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers is to prepare (train) God’s people to do the work of ministry.
Instead of analyzing the history or blaming various people, it is time for all who follow Christ to wake up to their identity and to their task. We are disciples. Disciples train other disciples. It’s natural. It’s normal. It requires no special skills or special qualifications. We just need to obey Jesus’ command, and begin to do it.
Who are you training to obey Christ? Who are they training? Are you a trainer of trainers? A disciple who makes disciples? If not, you can be! Embrace that identity today.
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