The first six propositions in our little list emphasize the ministry of the many. As follows, they are:
- Our goal is to make disciples not church members.
- Churches tend towards institutionalism as sparks fly upward.
- The heart of disciple-making is prayerful speaking of God’s word.
- All ministry has the goal of nurturing disciples, not just one-to-one discipling or mentoring.
- To be a disciple is to be a disciple-maker.
- Disciple-makers need to be trained and equipped in conviction, character and competence.
But where do pastors and teachers fit in?
7. There is only one class of disciples, regardless of different roles or responsibilities
All Christians should be disciple-makers, and should seek to ‘grow the vine’ whenever and however we can. However, among the variety of gifts and roles that different Christians have in this task, some are given particular responsibility as pastors, overseers and elders to teach, to warn, to rebuke, and to encourage. These are the foremen and organizers of Christ’s disciple-making vision, the guardians and mobilizers, the teachers and role models. Pastors, elders and other leaders provide the conditions under which the rest of the congregation can get on with disciple-making—with prayerfully speaking God’s truth to others.
At a profound level, all pastors and elders are just players on the team. They do not have a different essence or status, or a fundamentally different task—as if they are the players, and the rest of the congregation are spectators or support crew. A pastor or elder is one of the vine-workers who has been given a particular responsibility to care for the people and to equip the people to be disciple-makers.