I went into my daughter’s room to ask about her last memory of Opa. Bonita’s dad went to be with the Lord over eleven years ago. Nadia’s answer surprised me a bit. I was prepping for this blog and her answer was suppose to be ‘teaching me how to ride a bike’ because it tied in with my post! (That’s what pastors and writers sometimes do when looking for illustrations.) Her honest answer was that he had big hands and that he made everyone get out of his chair! She didn’t give me the right answer, in fact she doesn’t remember him teaching her how to ride a bike at all, but I do. It was a picture of someone knowing some things and passing them on to someone younger and helping them along. It was about discipleship. As I remember it she wiped out a lot of times at the trailer park that day but after all the scrapes and bruises, she had it down. That was our last summer with Ernie.
We are on mark seven of our series on moving the church by God’s grace to be at a healthier place and today’s mark is discipleship. I served as discipleship pastor for two and a half years and I would say that this is the key missing ingredient in the majority of our churches. I have lots of material so I’m making this a two-parter within a ten parter.
I was reading a book by Ted Trip a year or two ago called ‘Dangerous Calling’ and I remember very little about the book! Most books you remember one or two things and the big thing that he unlocked for me was something he discovered in Ephesians 4. It blew my mind as I mulled over it. He divided a section of Ephesians 4 into public ministry and private ministry and he nailed it.
 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
(Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV)
He referred to this part as public ministry. So what you hear from the pulpit in public, the Word preached. What you would deem as a corporate or semi-corporate events would fit. I think Sunday School class would also be considered as public ministry. This is where many churches stop. We got a dude that rocks the pulpit, he brings the Word, he takes 2 Timothy 4:1-5 seriously….we’re good. No. Not yet. Why do many preachers rock the pulpit and so few believers move forward in their faith? Why is the church often in disarray? The missing element is private ministry.
 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (Ephesians 4:15 ESV)
Private ministry needs to so back up public ministry. If shepherds are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry as it says in :12 then private ministry should flow out of that. Private ministry is part of the work of ministry in :12. It can be formal or very casual from one believer to another. A new believer is birthed in the congregation and she’s coming and hearing the Word preached and that’s good but she so needs someone to come alongside her and train her in the basics…to respond to the questions…to pray with her and care for her…to talk about the sermon. It can be with a newbie and a vet. It can be with two gals who want to study the Word together. It can be with an older saint, a middle-ager, and a young gun. It can be in a small group setting. Some small groups have rocked and some have crashed and burned and it has a lot to do with how much people invested.
Public and private ministry also need to be on the same track. You know that a John MacArthur type in the pulpit with small groups studying ‘Your Best Life Now’, won’t work. Strong Bible content in the public and strong Bible content in private. If the two ministries are on different tracks, you will have a train wreck…really fast.
I love good public ministry but strong private ministry will back that up. When you have people meeting in coffee shops and over lunch breaks and in homes and in parks where the Word is unleashed, you have a church moving towards health. Don’t expect your public ministry to do it all. Dig deep and invest in private ministry. You will be blessed by it and so will the others in your congregation. Private ministry will even strengthen your pulpit ministry.
If you’re trying to make sense out of discipleship, here’s a clip that may help. I remember tears streaming down my face the first couple of times that I watched it because it is so needed and necessary but missing in many churches. Please take a few minutes to watch it and catch the vision.