Is Leadership Development the Purpose of Making Disciples?

A conversation with a church leader last week caused me to reflect about the work assigned by our Lord: to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). That conversation cause me to ask think about the purpose of making disciples. I challenge you to consider the purpose both practically and scripturally.

Benefits of Making Disciples

There are many benefits of making disciples. Here are four of those. Making disciples helps people…

  • begin a relationship with Jesus
  • grow in accepting Jesus’ Lordship over all of their lives
  • love like Jesus
  • follow where Jesus leads.

Making disciples results in lives changed, including our own. The Spirit bestows gifts. The Lord desires love and obedience. Those who follow Jesus are called to serve Him in all we do, and some become leaders. My short answer to the question in the title is “no.”

Purpose of Making Disciples

If leadership development is not the purpose of making disciples, then what is the purpose? How do you answer that question in a sentence, paragraph, or post when entire books have not adequately answered that question? I am open to your comments here. My overly simplified response is that the purpose of making disciples is to lead people to accept, love, and obey Jesus as that new generation makes disciples of still others.

You may say, “wait a minute, Darryl, then all efforts at making disciples is really leadership development.” And I would agree except for incorrect assumptions. It is true that every disciple is given the task of making disciples, and that means that every disciple is a leader of others. But the complication is that when most hear the phrase “leadership development” they tend to think of people in positional leadership in the work of the church: team or committee chairs, ministry directors or leaders, etc. The main purpose of making disciples is not developing new or better leaders. Without a doubt, however, that would be a benefit.

Leadership Development

Will a person become a better leader as they accept, love, and obey Jesus? If they become more like Jesus, every leader will become a better leader. But leadership development growth is often also a factor of SHAPE (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences) along with call, the work of the Spirit, and apprenticing.

What would you add to these thoughts? Don’t settle for leadership development in place of making disciples. Make disciples and watch as people step up to be leaders. Make disciples!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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