The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2, NASB1995).
After 49 years of being the Senior Pastor in one church, I’m often asked, “How is retirement?”
I don’t like the question, as I’m spiritually and emotionally allergic to retirement.
My response is, “I didn’t retire; I repositioned myself.”
Usually, that’s enough of an answer to get the conversation back to the topic of the cold, gray, and rainy weather in Ohio. But some insist on a more detailed explanation by asking, “And what does ‘repositioning’ mean?”
I then answer, “I’m working with followers of Jesus in local churches, mission organizations, and with individuals who want to develop a culture of sustainable discipleship.”
Usually, that works to produce a blank stare! And then I can move the conversation to a topic important to the church today …
One of my frustrations in the past ten years as a senior pastor was that I had difficulty developing discipleship that organically sustained itself. Yes, our church was discipling, and many were discipled, but “sustainable” means disciplers having an unquenchable passion for discipling.
Or disciplers who disciple disciplers continually.
One teacher recently said, “In the church, we must take consumers and make disciples and then take disciples and make disciplers.”
Oddly, I realized that I needed to step away as the organizational leader of a local church because much of what I was doing as a pastor hindered my calling to be a disciple-maker.
C.S. Lewis wrote …
There exists in every church something that sooner or later works against the very purpose for which it came into existence. So, we must strive very hard, by the grace of God, to keep the church focused on the mission that Christ originally gave to it.”
Jesus was clear as to the mission of the church. Let’s read His Great Commission again …
Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, NASB1995).
I’m not against an organizational church.
Wow, I’d have a significant identity crisis if I concluded that the church where I served for 49 years wasn’t God’s calling for my community and me.
Preaching, committees, fund-raising campaigns, and other organizational aspects of a church have a purpose but aren’t one-on-one discipleship. Again, nothing wrong with planning, but during my repositioning, I rephrased the quote by C.S. Lewis to …
The purpose of the church is the Great Commission. Is my role as Senior Pastor allowing me to work in the ministry to which I’m called? Am I developing sustainable one-on-one discipleship?
Since I retired (oops, repositioned!), I’ve been able to help churches, mission organizations, and even individuals in local communities in growing sustainable one-on-one discipleship.
This is my story. How about you?
Today, repositioning happens quickly, more often, and with greater intensity for everyone. The challenges of change are a sign of the end times!
If you’ve lost your faith and are questioning your purpose in serving Jesus, remember His Great Commission for sustainable discipleship. Those of us working with the Discipling Another ministry can help you reposition …
to becoming a discipler who disciples disciplers.