News and Articles
21 September 2012
The desire to play a part in training people for ministry and mission has had a long history within Above Bar Church. From late September 2012 we will be taking our first steps in establishing a local training scheme focused on equipping and preparing people for leadership within Above Bar Church and other churches. The approach is completely in line with our vision as a church to bless others with the blessing God is giving us. Marcus Honeysett, (Director of Living Leadership and author of Fruitful Leaders (IVP)) has helped us develop our thinking in this area and will be helping establish the scheme in the early stages. In the following article he sets out the core vision.
Why am I so excited about the School of Missional Disciple-Making – and why should you be? According to Jesus, the purpose of every local church is to make disciples. He said “I will build my church” and “you go and make disciples." And yet the number of churches which actually train – or even expect - all the believers to make disciples is vanishingly small.
In his book “Good to Grow” church minister Steve Tibbert makes the case that when a church ceases to embrace a mission-focussed understanding of itself, those interested in disciple-making and mission usually drift off elsewhere. The foundational commitment to making disciples (who in turn multiply more disciples) drops off the agenda and is subsequently very difficult to recover. In addition it is interesting to note that programmes for training leaders tend to develop ministry skills and theology but frequently neglect how to make disciples. (This isn’t, by and large, true for the world missions community which tends to be much better at training disciple-makers and disciple-making leaders).
Above Bar Church is taking truly thrilling steps to establish disciple-making as the core DNA of new leaders, in line with the church’s understanding of having been blessed by God in order to be a blessing. We began the planning of the school with one simple statement based on Ephesians 4: the goal of leadership is to grow and release disciple-making disciples. The curriculum is now in the planning stage, with every element aiming to fulfil this goal.
The school will take the form of four tracks – understanding the blessing of God (Bible), Experiencing the blessing of God (spiritual formation), understanding biblical leadership and missional church and growing in discipling others (grouped under the heading of blessed in order to be a blessing). The school will be deeply practical, encouraging students to engage with non-Christians, 121 work and small group huddles with junior leaders, as well as identifying practical mission-focussed needs and opportunities in Southampton and, over time, beyond. In my experience, this combination of Bible-handling, spiritual nurture and practical outcomes is quite unique for any church-based leader training course. In the pilot year we are hoping for 10 students from ABC and 5 from other churches, all at the level where they could shortly become cluster leaders.
Above Bar Church is truly blessed with a remarkable range of leaders and trainers. Few churches could dream of making such a school a reality. But with God’s help I believe we have the opportunity to bless the church, Southampton and potentially many other churches with the material under development. It is a privilege for me to work with them and with ABC to make this a reality.