Preaching does not stop at the pulpit. It is a key element in our disciple-making efforts. Jim Shaddix of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary explains above.

The pastor as lead discipler

by Ken Tan, BSCNC Leadership Development


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Every week, the gospel is preached in pulpits all over the world. The preaching of the Word is transformative. Done rightly, the sermon conveys the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to sinful hearts. This is the starting point for many as they understand what it means to be a follower or disciple of Jesus. 

Paul asks in Romans 10:14-18, how can people call on the One whom they have not heard and believe unless someone delivers to them the good news? Faith starts with hearing the message. The weekly preaching of the Word is central for many to know Christ and become disciple-makers.

Making disciples should not just be another trend but must be the focus of the church. It needs to be an intentional process that begins at the heart of every believer who wants to grow in their relationship with God and others. 

The number one priority and responsibility of a pastor is to see every member of their church is growing in their relationship with Christ and making disciples. The motivation and method of doing this is by following the example set by Jesus himself.

Jesus preached the gospel message to everyone, including commoners, religious elitists, politicians and more. This is how the early disciples made followers of Jesus as well. 

Acts 14:21-22 says, “They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. They then returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging to remain true to the faith.” The disciples preached the gospel and then invested their time in discipling and nurturing the early believers to become followers and disciple-makers. 

A pastor has an opportunity to ignite the disciple-making process in a church by modeling it through his preaching and what he does after it. Starting with the pulpit and the sufficiency of the Word, the whole church is empowered as a gospel-centered force, impacting every sphere and arena of influence in which they live. 

Though Christ engaged the masses, He equipped the twelve disciples for the work of the ministry. He taught them how to preach, teach, serve and make disciples. He then sent them out two-by-two as apprentices to experience what Christ was doing himself. Similarly, pastors should preach and then invest in the lives of a few with the expectation that they too will multiply as disciples of Christ.

For preaching to be an effective process for disciple-making, the following must take place:

  • The preaching must be intentional
    Every message should include a presentation of a gospel and listeners should have an opportunity to respond. It is the tilling of the soil for the gospel seed to be planted, harvested and re-planted.
  • The preaching must be relational 
    The sharing of the gospel hopefully leads to a person coming to know Jesus, and then to be invited into a disciple-making relationship for accountability, nurture and equipping for the ministry.
  • It must be incarnational
    The gospel message must lead to a changed and transformed life. This is the basis for a beautiful testimony — one that can be used in sharing the gospel powerfully with others so that they may come to know Christ as Lord.

The way to view success for a pastor in the ministry is not attendance numbers, annual budgets, or building size, but by how many disciples are being made that are making other disciples. This is the model of multiplication that will reach this world for Christ. That was God’s plan when He gave us the Great Commission, and it’s how we bring glory to God in our preaching.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ken Tan serves as senior consultant for Leadership Development with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.