Before discipleship can become the heart of the church, elders must exemplify the objective. How to do this will come later, but long-term revitalization of existing churches and the establishment of right priorities in new churches will not happen without it.
Revitalization must come from the top down, not the bottom up. “Grass-roots” renewal has its limits. There are many examples of church members becoming disciples and starting to make other disciples. The members’ excitement charges the church atmosphere with new energy. The problems start when the grassroots energy slams into the church’s leadership core. The leaders will give lip service to the positive aspects of renewal but will not move to change structures and priorities to facilitate total renewal.
Until the energy of renewal makes its way into the leadership core, it will not be the heart of the church. Therefore, it is crucial to place disciple making at the heart of the church, so the life and vigor that are part and parcel of a disciple-making church will live in its leaders. If it lives in its leaders, they will pass it on from generation to generation. It will grow and multiply in the establishment of new churches. But it must come from the top down, not from the bottom up.
Bill Hull, The Disciple-Making Pastor: Leading Others on the Journey of Faith, Revised and Expanded Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 155.
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