The Law of Investment says: 'A disciple-making church provides an intentional process that releases disciples to invest themselves in the global mission of Christ and the Church and to fulfill God's purpose for their lives'. The passion of God's heart is making and developing disciples who in turn make and develop disciples.
This law is the local church's fourth commitment to help believers commit to mission. The church expresses its commitment to reproduce and fulfill the Great Commission through the development of disciples and the unleashing of their God-given gifts, resources, and energies. Fundamentally the law of investing is not just missions but helping people fulfill God's highest purpose and mission for their lives.
A commitment to invest means empowering people and ministries, releasing them for ministry based upon their spiritual development. This is enhanced by three supporting principles:
- Every believer is commissioned by God to make disciples (Mark 16:15,16);
- Spirit baptism is a priority for Great Commission service (Acts 1:4,5);
- An awareness of need is the primary motivation for Great Commission service (John 4:35–38).
The Law of Investment Modeled
Jesus called His disciples to a life of investment. They were to:
- Remain in Him and to "go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19).
- Continue to develop in their character and relationship with Him.
- Invest themselves--time, energies, and talents--in His highest purpose: making disciples.
- Be released for leadership and ministry to reproduce in others what He had done in their lives.
Jesus invested himself in His 12 disciples. The ultimate act of commitment came as He invested the Church's future to them. His influence will continue as we invest in and release people for ministry.
We are not true disciples of Christ if we are not giving ourselves to His mission. Individual purposes are linked to His greater purpose. Success is defined by purpose and measured by obedience.
Four Habits of Disciple-Making Churches
Provide Cross-Cultural Experiences.
Cross-cultural ministry experiences have the power to open people's hearts and eyes to the needs of the world. Lives and commitments are significantly changed by understanding people's needs and experiencing God's power working through them in ministry to those needs. A church can provide opportunities for cross-cultural experiences in their own country. Extend opportunities for ministry in the inner city or other less-privileged communities from several days to a few weeks. Some churches take groups to the inner city and become homeless for a night. These experiences prove life changing.
Provide Leadership Experiences.
Providing a healthy team environment where people feel included, valued, encouraged, and supported can develop the habit of providing leadership experiences.
- Strive to create a climate promoting trust, openness, honesty, shared feelings, and mutual respect.
- Develop a system of communication that provides for the sharing of relevant, helpful, timely information.
- Encourage problem-solving and decision-making opportunities by those responsible for the ministry.
- Give authority and responsibility in ministry roles based on knowledge and ability.
- Work together as leaders and workers in the development of plans, creating a sense of ownership for the goals and results.
- Encourage workers to participate in ministry-related problem solving and decision making, to develop self-direction and self-control.
- Emphasize the necessity of conflict resolution, collaboration, and win-win approaches to disagreements.
- Provide a reward system that recognizes both the ministry's achievement of goals and the development of its members.
Provide Opportunities to Disciple Others.
Determine to invest people in discipling opportunities. Involve them in levels of ministry appropriate to their training and spiritual development. A discipling mentality can be developed with four steps.
- Challenge people with the vision of the church, the opportunities for ministry, and the benefits to them and others.
- Orient people to the ministry opportunities, focusing on their ministry choice.
- Involve people in discipling opportunities such as crisis hot line, recovery/support groups, disability ministries, foster homes, new convert follow-up, altar workers, etc.
- Coach people. As people minister through sharing their faith, nurturing a new believer, or counseling someone, they are motivated to learn by realizing what they need to know.
Provide Continued Leadership Training.
Leadership development is a lifetime process that occurs through interaction between one's spiritual life, natural abilities, experiences, and opportunities. Several principles for ongoing leadership training are:
1. Give freedom to fail. Disciples learn by trial and error. We must not be afraid of failure, which can be mistakes or sins or both. Recognize a mistake quickly and correct the perceptions, conditions, and actions that led to it. If we sin, we repent quickly and apply 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16, not forgetting the role of restorative prayer.
2. Leadership development requires empowering. The goal of ministry leaders/trainers/mentors should be to equip the disciple to do the ministry and to supervise as it is done.
3. Releasing leaders in ministry encourages growth. Training must be hands-on. Because people learn by doing ministry, we shouldn't make it too easy for them or rescue them from potential learning experiences. Help them understand the goal and then model or teach some possible methods, letting them work out their own methodology for achieving the goal.
Providing ongoing leadership training can be done through a variety of methods. The best approach is what is right for the person at the time.
1. Mentoring. Team members should understand their responsibility to be both apprentice and mentor; every person should be actively involved in two training relationships simultaneously.
2. Storytelling. An important role of the mentor is as teacher. Christ taught the crowds, but His parables were aimed at His listening disciples. He sought to link spiritual truths with real-life metaphors.
3. Modeling. Christ modeled appropriate behaviors before His disciples, took them aside and explained the significance, and exhorted them to do likewise.
4. Celebrating. Landmarks are victories and accomplishments that provide opportunities to evaluate progress and design the next phase of growth. A disciple graduates to a certain level after proving that he can do "task A" effectively on his own. As leaders we must celebrate and affirm that graduation.(1)
Profile of Disciples Committed to Mission
What is the profile of people committed to mission?
- They demonstrate characteristics of a committed leader.
- They are empowered by the Holy Spirit in life and service and have been used of God to help those committed to maturity become committed to ministry (2 Timothy 2:2).
- They are uniting and leading workers in evangelizing the lost and establishing believers (Mark 1:38).
- They display faithfulness and integrity in their lives and ministry (2 Timothy 2:19–21).
The church's commitment to invest in people, then releasing them to invest themselves in others, will be evident in people's lives and ministry. If you recognize this profile in the people to whom you minister, you know your commitment to invest is being effective.
Adapted from Robert E. Logan and Larry Short, Mobilizing for Compassion (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1994), 101-3.
Clancy Hayes is training coordinator and district liaison for the Sunday School Department, Springfield, Missouri. Sunday School. All rights reserved. Used with permission.