“If there’s a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pew.” At least that’s what a spiritual father of mine use to warn years ago whenever we talked about leadership and discipleship issues in the church. With the plethora of church conferences and leadership conferences to assuage any leader’s inner guru, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of systems, leadership styles, and the like.
But when I considered how I wanted to lead my high school students through their Bible study and how I wanted to influence them in growing in Christ, my mind kept going back to those foundational years with the Navigators and all that talk about discipleship and pouring one’s life into a few.
Pastors are constantly caught in the crossfire between the numbers game and the cruel realities of undiscipled disciples of Christ. Small group and “life” groups are certainly a help but they are not the end-all, be-all. Pastors and other church leaders cannot lead in a vacuum. Furthermore, we cannot for one minute believed that following is not part of our leading. If we cannot follow Jesus, if we cannot listen to those godly leaders He places in our lives to sharpen us, then we ourselves are disqualified from being effective leaders. I can smell a shipwreck a mile away when the leader stops listening to wise counsel from godly, Christ-centered sources.
When it comes to discipleship, pastors ought to model it by allowing others to disciple them and by discipling those God has placed on their hearts. Congregations need to understand that pastors cannot disciple one-to-one every member of their local fellowship. Any such expectation is ridiculous and not grounded in Scripture. Jesus Himself did not disciple crowds!