Your Voice

Your Voice

Disciple-making culture nurtures new leaders

Recently I had the privilege of meeting pastor and author Craig Etheredge of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Etheredge serves as pastor of an influential church and stewards his talent as a voice of disciple making. He spent time in Alabama sharing insights with church leaders.

Much of his content was from his recent book, “The Disciple-Making Leader.” The simplicity and practicality of the book are refreshing. “The Disciple-Making Leader” expresses how any church can design a leadership pipeline and disciple-making pathway to transform the church, community and culture.

I sat up in my chair when he said to us, “When leaders lose their why, they lose their way.”

I have seen it happen so often in individuals and entire churches. If we lose clarity in our mission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:18–20), we will veer off course missionally or morally.

‘The main thing’

When we recognize we may be diverging from the main thing, we should think about something else. Etheredge said, “Jesus started the Church the way He wanted it. Now, He wants it the way He started it!”

How do we get back to the main purpose of making disciples of Jesus in our local churches?

Etheredge believes that “to build a movement, you must make disciples and move them into greater levels of leadership.”

This concept was fundamental to the early church as God raised leaders from within. These leaders from the earliest days of Christianity were character-proven, time-tested and doctrinally sound.

Leadership pipeline

Even the business world understands the importance of building a leadership pipeline within an organization. This concept was expressed in the monumental book by Jim Noel and Ram Charan titled “The Leadership Pipeline.”

Etheredge advocates for not moving anyone, no matter how gifted, through the leadership pipeline (or up the leadership ladder) unless they are advancing simultaneously on the discipleship pathway.

A maturing disciple is devoted to Jesus, developed in character and deployed in the mission of Jesus.

The dangers of moving someone up the leadership ladder cannot be overstated. Only a maturing disciple who leads out of the overflow of their walk with Jesus and intentionally invests in others will build a robust disciple-making culture in the church.

Too many “gifted” leaders have been elevated in our churches without being led on a disciple-making pathway. The tragic results are fallen leaders, conflicted congregations and diminished witness in communities.

A leader’s character must always take precedence above immediate results. Competencies will likely increase as a person grows in their character. However, when the church elevates “superstars” who are on shaky moral footing, the outcomes will detract from God’s glory.

Powerful point

Etheredge made a powerful point: “Jesus did not say, ‘Go and make more superstars.’ He did say, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’”

Is making disciples your clear priority? Do you have a leadership pipeline in your church that is inextricably connected to a disciple-making pathway?

Let me be clear: I am not talking about a discipleship class or program. Instead, I offer a more profound challenge. Cultivate a disciple-making culture in your church that helps connect new believers and grows them to multiply.

When Jesus ministered with his disciples, the rabbis understood a disciple to be on a journey to become like their teacher and to carry on the teacher’s work long after the teacher was gone. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Real ministry sends Jesus’ people into the world to fulfill His mission.

By Chris Crain
Executive director, Birmingham Metro Baptist Association

“I’ve seen more students at least start the conversation about the call to ministry in the last 10 years,” noted Larry Hyche, who served 20 years in local church ministry before his current assignment as men’s spiritual development specialist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. “I think there’s more of an awareness of the need for workers.”

“Most of us have probably heard the cliché phrase, ‘In the world, but not of the world,’” said Ryan Gray, minister to college students and single adults at First Baptist Church Montgomery. A better paraphrase might be, he noted, “Not of the world, but sent into the world.”

“You have to choose who or what you’re going to serve,” said Bill Morrison, Baptist campus minister at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Jesus addressed the subject of money more than any other subject in His teachings because it has such an attraction for us. [Money] gives us a false sense of security.”

We will be judged on how we fulfilled our potential.

Morris Murray Jr.
Jasper, Ala.

“God is in the miracle business and God is in the saving business — to see Him come out on top time after time — God always prevails and always shows out that He’s taking care of these kids no matter what,” said Suzanne Owens, CEO of the nonprofit Sozo Children based in Birmingham.

There are no perfect people, things or situations. There is none good, no, not one. Only in heaven will the health, peace, holiness and happiness of the Garden of Eden be permanently restored. Only in heaven will we spend eternity with the One perfect sinless God-Man, Jesus.

Don’t do what you can’t do; do what you can do. You cannot resolve all the conflicts or all the world’s problems, but you can avert your own greatest disaster, right now, once and for all.

Once you die, it is all over for you. There are no second chances.  Either you have given your whole life to God and been forgiven of your sins through the death of Jesus Christ, or you must pay the penalty for your sins in hell. If you die tonight, tomorrow is too late.

Bob Cosby

“It was a role reversal, and it was hard for both of us to adjust. It was very difficult for her losing her independence, and it takes that kind of setting yourself aside for someone else. It’s a calling.” said Linda Winn, author of “The Road to Glory: Walking Mama Home,” on caring for her mother.

Scripture says we’ve all fallen short, but we’re invited to turn from rebellion and humble ourselves before God. One day we’ll stand in his heavenly courtroom to give account. It’s far better to humble ourselves today than wait until then, for humility is the pathway to redemption.

Pastor Michael J. Brooks
Siluria Baptist Church

If you want to lead people to Christ, find common ground, not battlegrounds.

Pastor Justin Driver
Forward Church
Irvington, Ala.

The essence of the gospel is serving people and not exploiting what they have to offer.

Joe Souza
Ethnic ministry coordinator, Baptist Churches of New England

How’s your spiritual vision?

Since fourth grade I’ve been a four-eyed person. And I’m thankful for all four. My God-given eyes need augmentation. Spectacles hang on my face most of the time.

With eyes you behold a beautiful landscape or work of art. They enable you to see family and friends you love.

Some things, however, can’t be viewed with human eyes, even when boosted by extra help.

Paul prayed for his friends to receive altered eyes: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph. 1:18–19).

Paul’s prayer called for an openness to something only God can put in you.

Enhanced spiritual eyesight enables you to experience some God-given blessings:

  1. The certain assurance of salvation
  2. The revelation of what comes with a relationship in Christ
  3. Acquisition of the power bestowed on believers for living in a troubled world.

You don’t get those eyes from the optical shop or drug store.

Believers are fitted with the eyes of the heart by the Heavenly Optometrist.

My human eyes get weaker day by day.

But heart eyes get sharper the more you use them.

That requires an ongoing submission to the lordship of Christ.

You do that through the ongoing practice of the spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study and centering yourself in God’s presence.

How’s your vision?

Darryl Wood
via Facebook

From the Twitterverse


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In the trials you may be facing today, cry out to the Lord. It may be difficult, but thank Him for what He will accomplish through your weaknesses.


“About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. … But we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do this even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your own hands …” (1 Thess. 4:9–11)


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I once asked Chuck Swindoll what advice he’d give a young pastor. He said,

  1. Be yourself. Don’t try to imitate others; God made you who you are on purpose.
  2. Live better than you preach. Study to preach, but even more to live what you preach.

Good advice.


Another reminder that children’s ministry is not the “easy” one:

After teaching in Sunday School today about Noah’s ark, the first question was: “When they got off the ark, were there lots of dead bodies all over the place?”

Guess what every question after that was about.


Now more than ever we must seek to retrieve a biblical understanding of personal privacy, which accords with the dignity of every individual and cares for the most vulnerable among us. —@jasonthacker