The Need for Teamwork in Fulfilling the Great Commission
By nature, most Bible-believing churches are very independent. This is typically a result of a combination of beliefs about the local church: That it is autonomous, that is, self-governing, that it is to be separated from apostasy, and that it is to be holy. These are all clear Bible teachings. However, the book of Acts and the Epistles clearly show teamwork functioning between many local churches and Christian workers. This teamwork is not an artificial or external organization; instead, it is a strategic and spiritual unity between like-minded believers, who work together to fulfill Christ’s commands.
Many Bible believers shy away from anything that seems to be denominational or para-church. This is understandable, and it is a well established fact that denominations and para-church organizations have not, by and large, consistently contributed significantly to fulfilling the Great Commission. If Jesus had wanted denominations and para-church entities to be the main engine of the Great Commission, He would have at least taught on them, if not actually started some. He did not, instead declaring that His church is the engine.
The balance, then, between autonomous local churches and a fulfilled Great Commission is teamwork between Bible-believing local churches. But not simply a local-level of teamwork, such as pastors fellowships – instead, something much bigger and more strategic must happen. Bible-believing local churches must team up with a clear mission, strategy, and tactical approach.
The mission is clear: Make disciples of every people group on earth in our generation.
The strategy has often been muddled, but in reality, the strategy must come from the mission: Our strategy for fulfilling the mission is making disciples every where we are – at home or abroad.
The tactical approach takes the strategy and boils it down to some practical points:
- Disciple-making is literally ‘follower-making.’
- Disciple-making is accomplished when I live out the commands of Christ and teach others to do the same (Model)
- Disciple-making is assisted by guided obedience, in which I help my disciples obey Jesus (Assist)
- Disciple-making is enabled by responsibility, in which I step back and let my disciples lead out (Watch)
- Disciple-making is freed to multiply when my disciples realize that they have authority and power through Jesus to do the same, and I get out of the way (Leave)
- Disciple-making is made mature when I follow Paul’s example and provide ongoing fellowship, accountability, instruction, and encouragement to my disciples once they are on their own (Mentor)
In discipleship/church planting, this M-A-W-L-M cycle should look something like this:
The disciple goes quickly from a learner-only to a doer-disciple, and then from there to a disciple-maker, in a reproducible, multiplication-minded approach. Time frames could vary, but we should keep in mind the following: Paul’s church planting philosophy was essentially this model, but his time in a city varied from about 3 weeks (Thessalonica) to years (Corinth). Size, circumstances, and other factors were certainly at play; however, it is clear that Paul worked rapidly for multiplication and maturation of disciples.
This M-A-W-L-M cycle must be kept bare-bones simple so it can be reproduced rapidly anywhere in the world. At its center, it must be Bible-based, curriculum-free, and have a simple, clear gospel presentation. A consistent tool of this cycle is the home Bible study.
We are committed to this mission, and will be working to provide tools to Bible-believing churches in the near future to carry out the tactical and strategic aspects of the mission. Our goal is to bring glory to Christ through the united efforts of Bible-believing local churches for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.