Friday, May 6

What role do you want to play?

Bob Roberts, Jr. writes in "The Multiplying Church"...

You can be Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, or Neil Cole, or you can be the person who raises them up. What role do you most want to play? I used to want to be them--to get to see all this stuff happening up close--but that's because all I saw was what I could do.

As I grew older and began to help planters start their churches, I realized I could have greater impact raising up multiple leaders who would plant more churches than I could ever do alone. Not all of us are gifted or called to be Driscolls, Warrens, or Coles, but every single pastor can raise up other young men and women. As a matter of fact, one of the chief roles and responsibilites of every pastor is that of raising up leaders--not just for their church but for the broader church as well.

Which is greater, to plant a single church or to plant multiple churches out of your church?

I once heard that our Chinese brothers express it this way...

It is good for a Christian to lead someone to Christ,
It is better to plant a church,
It is best to lead others to plant churches.

If we are ever going to see genuine church planting movements, we have to get away from wanting to be center stage. Instead of ministry being about us, or what we do; how do we encourage that vast army of ordinary believers to step out in faith into the ripe and ready fields of harvest?

Question: how long does it take to get from 0-1000 member church? Unless extraordinarily gifted like those mentioned above, most of us would dedicate a lifetime to reaching that goal. The largest Baptist Church in Ecuador Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica Bautista Israel took 30 years to reach a thousand members. But in only the past five years has more than doubled in size. How? Not by fancier facilities, slicker services, or better sermons...but by empowering, equipping and encouraging ordinary "lay leaders" to go out and plant more than a dozen community churches. These "daughter churches" each average close to 100 people. I love their motto: "one church; many communities."

A couple of months ago, a dozen men and women signed up for church planting training here in Guayaquil. After Eight weeks, more than 100 new believers (and soon-to-be-believers) meet together weekly in at least seven newly planted house churches.

I wonder, how long would it have taken me to plant a church of 100? Working full time, with several others helping, and access to money and outside resources, probably a couple of years. Yet, by investing a few hours over the past eight weeks with a dozen people, we already see greater results.

I totally agree with Bob Roberts statements above. Most would rather be one of those household names known for having a successful ministry. But how differently things might be in the Kingdom if Ephesians 4 APEPT were about perfecting/equipping the saints for the work, instead of being the primary ones doing the work?

What do you think? Your thoughts and comments are welcomed!


Arthur Sido said...

If you held a conference in a huge auditorium and listed the key note speakers as a few unknown church planters who started churches that gathered 30-50 people, would anyone come? I doubt it. We like the rock stars, the men who write the best selling books and speak at the top conferences.

Tim Patterson said...

Usually when we take center stage, Jesus has already left the building.

Like John the Baptist said, "He must increase, I must decrease."

I believe delegating authority and empowering/ releasing new leaders is still the greatest challenge for multiplying movements.

GuyMuse said...

Arthur and Tim,

I believe there is a place for the learning and insights we can get from those who are wiser and more experienced. But the real test is what happens after the book has been read, or the conference is over. If we aren't using what was learned to delegate, empower, and release new leaders, then all what was received is little more than entertainment. We must seek to move in the direction of multiplying movements.

Aussie John said...


Your comment re Ephesians 4 is spot on and accords with my something I mentioned a long time back:

It is more important to train a trainer of disciples than to make a disciple.

Genuine disciples are not looking to be God's man for the 21st century, but simply to serve the King. They are open to be led to plant churches, as Bob Roberts says.

GuyMuse said...


It is more important to train a trainer of disciples than to make a disciple. Now THAT is spot on, as you say! There is a whole training methodology called T4T (Training for Trainers) that is being used quite extensively throughout Asia built upon this same idea.

Oracio Sandoval said...

I understand Bob Roberts' point but some of those names mentioned, especially Rob Bell, raise concerns. Bob Roberts seems to imply that all those leaders are good Christian leaders. Does he not know that Bell denies the reality of an eternal hell in his new book "Love Wins"? Or does he not care about that? Brother Guy, I have been encouraged by your blog and you seem to be sound in essential Christian doctrine. I'm sure you know that many "simple church" Christians simpathize with the emergent movement and their doctrines. I think that makes simple church Christians look bad to the IC and can be a hindrance in getting their views on ecclesiology across. What do you think? Am I being too critical?

Dan Benson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Benson said...

Great thoughts. This requires giving up control and letting the Holy Spirit run freely and risking a feeling of chaos. Most pastors, I fear, are not willing to do that.

Tom said...

Discipleship as a program?

GuyMuse said...


I think you are right in pointing out Bob Robert's intent was to list well-known names today, but wasn't necessarily endorsing any of their teachings as such. His point is one can BE one of these kinds of people, or be one of those who seek to RAISE UP leaders. I believe we can be more effective mobilizing others, rather than trying to do everything ourselves. Thanks for the comment.

GuyMuse said...

Dan & Tom,

It is always harder being behind the scenes rather than the one out there holding the microphone, but what I believe we need to be looking at closer is the way we are seeking to mobilize, make disciples. Is it from the front, or down on the same level amongst the "commoners." Fifty out there engaging the lost will accomplish a lot more than me trying to be out there doing the same thing by myself.

Tom, some discipleship concepts can be introduced by teaching programs, but as Wolfgang Simson describes: The most powerful resources in training will never be concepts, recipes, methodologies, or manuals. It will always be men and women of God making themselves available as parents, approachable and vulnerable for others to latch onto them, imitate them, question them, grill them, annoy them, and who in turn will catch the spirit, understand the role, and carry their mantles like Elisha taking over from Elijah.

Oracio Sandoval said...

Thanks for clarifying brother. Blessings,

Gavin Duerson said...

I think that those guys would all probably say that they ended up on your list because they have set out to play role you are advocating.

Not sure what my point is... just making an observation.

Thanks for the thought provoking blog!

GuyMuse said...


Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. There is certainly a role and place for everyone in the Body of Christ. I don't think Bob Roberts Jr. is criticizing the ministries of those listed since he is a megachurch pastor himself, but simply to point out that we can be those kinds of upfront leaders, or we can be in the role of raising up those kinds of leaders. Both are good, but it is my belief that those who raise up others end up impacting the world more than if they choose to be one of those upfront-type people.