A Simple, Biblical, and Glorious Approach of Discipleship: The 4 P’s

Do you ever overcomplicate things? Instead of taking the short, logical route while driving, you choose the roundabout way that gets you to your destination twenty minutes late. Instead of simply asking your friend a question, you think through all possible scenarios of how the conversation might go.

We have the potential to overcomplicate everything—even discipleship.

The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, written by our friends Tony Payne and Colin Marshall, presents a compellingly biblical, yet simple way to think about discipleship, “Disciples are made by the persevering proclamation of the word of God by the people of God in prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God” (83). They neatly describe this type of thinking as ‘4 P Ministry.’

If you have overcomplicated discipleship and focused more on programs, events, expensive curriculum, or thought it as something left to the professionals, thinking in terms of the 4 P’s could revolutionize your life and ministry by making it simpler and more effective.

“Disciples are made by the persevering proclamation of the word of God by the people of God in prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God.”

P #1: Proclamation of the Word of God.

Disciples are made by hearing and receiving the Word. God’s living and active Word is able to break through stony hearts and bring new life. Proclaiming God’s living and active Word from the pulpit, in a small group, over coffee with a friend, through a text message or email will not return to God without accomplishing His purposes. That is why pastors and their people need to know God’s Word and proclaim it.

P #2: Prayerful dependence on the Spirit of God.

God is the one who brings growth and fruit to any ministry (1 Corinthians 3:6). As believers make progress in the Christian life, the Spirit of God is active speaking through His Word, renewing our hearts, guaranteeing our future inheritance, transforming us, gifting us for ministry, and giving us boldness to speak His Word.1

As you make disciples, pray for them and rely on the Spirit to work in their hearts through His Word. The Apostle Paul models this type of prayer throughout his epistles. Consider the way Paul prays for the Colossians to grow in Christ-like maturity in Colossians 1:9-10:

“…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

The Spirit of God uses prayers to grow disciples. Don’t neglect this indispensable part of disciple-making.

P #3: People are God’s fellow workers.

God’s Spirit works through God’s Word as God’s people proclaim it. In God’s infinite wisdom and mercy, He chooses to use imperfect people as His ambassadors to this lost world. We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession” redeemed to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

God’s people are His proclaimers. This fact should drive us to faithful proclamation ministries and the ministry of training other proclaimers for God’s use. The more people in our churches we equip to prayerfully proclaim God’s Word, the more the gospel will grow in our church and beyond.

Learn how you can grow as an expositor and equip others to rightly handle the Word in the Fellowship of the Word Program.

P #4: Persevering, step by step.

There’s a reason it is tempting to measure ministry pragmatically: it’s easier to count heads than patiently wait for God’s Word to have an impact. And yet, our calling is patience: prayerful Word proclamation is to be done “in season and out of season” and “with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Growing people in the gospel is often a slow growth like gardening. Day to day, it might be hard to tell if a plant is growing, but over a long period of time, growth is obvious. Evangelism takes great patience as well. God works in people’s hearts with the gospel often months or years before they come to faith. Don’t let slowness discourage your ministry, let it drive you to a prayerful dependence on God and a patience that trusts God to bring growth.

Preacher and professor Tony Merida shares a simple way to grow in patience, “How can we grow in patience as pastor- preachers? Since patience is a fruit of the Spirit, then the simple answer is to walk by the Spirit. Commune with God. Abide in Jesus. As you spend time in God’s presence, in unhindered and unhurried prayer and worship, meditate on God’s patience.”2

The beauty of the 4 P’s is how simply they communicate discipleship. Simple does not mean easy. But knowing that disciples are made by a prayerful proclamation of God’s Word by people with patience should greatly liberate believers by helping them not overcomplicate things, but rather trust God to work through their obedience.

The next time you are tempted to overcomplicate discipleship, remember this simple, biblical, and glorious approach.

For a comprehensive guide to how this simple approach can impact your church, buy The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making. Read 25 quotes from The Vine Project or an excerpt on Where Changing Church Culture Begins.


1 The Vine Project, pages 88-89.

2 Exalting Jesus in 1-2 Timothy and Titus, Kindle location 3645.

Rebuilding After a Deadly Earthquake: Ecuador Relief Update

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Leadership Resources and our partners in Ecuador have been encouraged by the response to our Ecuador relief appeal and how God has used the funds to minister in Portoviejo, Ecuador.

Rebuilding after an earthquake is never easy, and it takes wisdom to know where to start. The most obvious place to start is with food and shelter for our affected brothers and sisters.

13002334_10207859540359396_4187493265238930468_oCongregants in churches in areas affected by the earthquake suffer the loss of homes, property, and sometimes their livelihood. When you rely on your car or bike for work, losing either one of those things becomes very costly.

This loss suffered by many church members has directly impacted pastors and their families as well, not only in terms of increased hours caring for hurting people, but also economically, since pastoral salaries largely come from tithing, which has been impacted by the earthquake.

Because of this, relief funds sought to provide funds for tuna, grains, and pasta for pastors and their families. Instead of the funds going directly to the pastors, our partners had a smarter idea: they gave it directly to the pastors’ wives.

According to the “experts”, wives/mothers are the best household administrators. (But we don’t need experts to tell us that!!! :))

In addition to providing sustenance, relief funds helped The Good Shepherd Church in Portoviejo – a church of about 300 that was devastated by the earthquake – rebuild their space for children’s Sunday School.

Another church, founded by pastor and chaplain Elvis Cerón in a community near the province’s prison (El Rodeo), used funds to buy building materials for their children’s ministry.

One unmarried TNTer, a youth minister who is about 30 years old, brought food home, which impressed his unbelieving father. “Why would strangers from the other side of the world send money to us?” This gesture has softened his stance toward his son Luis Gabriel having church friends over and going to share Christ on the streets.

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Luis Gabriel (far left) and Pastor Elvis (second from left) studying the Psalms in TNT.

Praise the Lord that we can be such a tangible presence to our suffering brothers and sisters in this hard time!

Thank you for your generosity and being the hands and feet of Jesus in Ecuador. Let’s keep praying for God to use these difficult times for His glory and the building of His church.

There is still time to help churches of Portoviejo, Ecuador rebuild.

Learn more about Leadership Resources ministry training pastors in Ecuador:

A Historic, Precious, and Strategic Month for Leadership Resources

Dear Partners & Friends,

This month is historic, strategic, and precious for Leadership Resources. Our team will participate in the Global Proclamation Congress of Pastoral Trainers in Bangkok, Thailand.

Thousands of pastoral trainers from 100+ nations will gather June 15-22 to fellowship, grow, and network to advance Christ’s Great Commission.

Here’s why I think it will be….

Global Proclamation CongressHistoric

An event of this scale and focus has never before happened.

Precious

Forty key men we have trained from twenty-one countries are coming….the first time such an important cross-sampling of LRI’s ministry will be in one place at the same time. These dear men are the “cream of the crop”…the most effective pastor-trainers we know. We believe this Congress will build deeply into their lives and ministries of these men whom we treasure. And, they will learn from one another and see & hear the worldwide impact our ministry is having.

Strategic

We’ve been invited to help shape the program. The Congress will emphasize the faithful teaching & preaching of God’s Word, in part, through morning expositions of 2 Timothy, a book with the theme of not giving up in the ministry of the Word—a needed message for all in attendance!

We will also host the conference track on Biblical Engagement. This more intimate environment will foster discussions on achieving true biblical transformation and how to launch movements of God’s Word.

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Join us!

It’s too late for you to fly to Bangkok, but here are two specific ways you can partner with us in this Congress:

  1. Pray with us. Specifically, you can pray for:
  • Christ to be exalted and our understanding of his glorious Kingdom deepened
  • Safety and fruit for 65 LRI Staff and MTers attending from 21 different countries
  • Travel and visa mercies. (This has already caused some many headaches!)
  • Pre-conference fellowship of LRI leaders
  • Conference to fuel pastoral training movements around the Word
  • Our workshop track “Biblical Engagement as Foundation for Pastoral Training”
  • Divine connections with future partners to further God’s Kingdom work.
  • Spiritual growth and missional innovation for all in attendance
  • Pray that the message of 2 Timothy would encourage and convict
  • Trainers to commit to train 100,000 pastors in next 10 years
  1. Partner with us financially.

Sending so many pastoral trainers to Thailand is not cheap! We estimate that our cost will be $100,000 to cover airfare, registration, lodging, and more. But this is a small price to pay for what we are estimating will be one of the most impactful weeks in Leadership Resources’ history!

The fact that any of this is possible is a testimony to the grace of Christ and His faithfulness to build His church though the faithful ministry of the Word.

Thank you for the precious part you have played in this ministry!

craig1Craig Parro

President

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When you donate through the button above, select “Other” under Designation and enter “GPC 6/16”.


What One Global Leader Thinks about LRI:

Ramesh Richard DTSDr. Ramesh Richard is the Convener of this Congress for Pastoral Trainers. I’ve known Ramesh for many years and consider him a dear friend. He recently wrote these kind words: “The primary felt-fear of untrained pastors worldwide arises from having to preach next Sunday. However, the ultimate need of all pastors everywhere is godly character that will support their preaching ministry. Leadership Resources, served by experienced leadership, focuses on training pastors who preach biblically and live Christianly. The dire need for the twin emphases on the public and personal sides of pastoral ministry cannot be exaggerated. LRI, with its track record in training pastors and in training trainers of pastors, especially where Christ’s Church is growing, stands among the most effective organizations in pastoral training today.”

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10 Reasons Why Some Preachers Don’t Preach Expository Sermons

10 Reasons Why Preachers Dont Preach Expository Sermons - Expositional Preaching

Editor’s Note: This article is also available in Spanish at The Gospel Coalition (Coalicion por el Evangelio).


The driving factor behind Leadership Resources’ ministry training pastors in expositional preaching is our conviction that when God’s Word is clearly proclaimed and applied to life; sinners are saved, lives are changed, and believers grow in maturity and knowledge of God. Expository preaching is the practice that most enables God to speak for Himself through His Word.

Expository preaching is the practice that most enables God to speak for Himself through His Word.

For many of us accustomed to expository preaching, the practice seems like a no-brainer. Why would someone NOT want to preach their sermon directly from God’s Word? After all, Paul commands Timothy to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2)! 

What seems obvious to us may not be so for others. Beneath the surface of their hesitations lie a variety of reasons: possibly they are influenced by different convictions, a lack of knowledge, a misunderstanding or misapplication of Scriptural truth, or simply personal preference.

While we don’t believe that expository preaching is the only type of preaching God can use (biblically-sound topical preaching can be very helpful for certain cultural or congregational needs when wisely discerned), we do believe that expository preaching should be the main practice of preachers and the main diet of congregations.

10 Reasons Why Preachers Don’t Preach Expository Sermons

Reason #1: They don’t know God’s desire for preaching.

God desires us to faithfully speak what He has already communicated (see Exodus 4:10-16; Jeremiah 23:9-40; John 7:16, 8:28-29). We act as messengers carrying the words God has spoken, and God makes His appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Some of Leadership Resources’ training is done through translators to non-English speakers. If we were to find out that a translator communicated something different than what we had spoken, we would be upset because that translator would be straying from his or her purpose. Our role in preaching is like that of a translator–we need to faithfully receive and transmit God’s message.

Reason #2: They don’t consider the Bible relevant for the 21st Century.

Those who think that the Bible is not relevant for today misunderstand both the purpose and timelessness of Scripture. God’s plan for Scripture was twofold: to communicate to a specific people in a specific time and also to preserve His message for future generations. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Cultural fads come and go, but “the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:25).

Reason #3: They have an incorrect view on how to use the Bible in preaching.

There’s a common adage that says, “A text without a context is a pre-text for a proof-text.” This means that you can say whatever you want when taking a verse or passage out of its biblical, historical, and literary contexts. The Bible is not a book of magic spells; nor is it a bag of trail mix that allows you to pick out the good stuff and avoid what you don’t like. When we preach the Bible or quote the Bible, we need to say what the Bible is saying–nothing more and nothing less.

Reason #4: They are not equipped to preach the Word.

85% of pastors in the world have little or no formal Bible training and simply may not be equipped to preach the Word. A lack of experience listening to good examples of expository messages or a lack of understanding the Bible may also contribute to not preaching expositionally.

One of the purposes of the Fellowship of the Word program is to train church leaders in the Scriptures with the purpose of preaching God’s Word with God’s heart.

Reason #5: They don’t have enough time to prepare.

Pastoral ministry often seems like a never-ending job. Some preachers do not think that they have time to prepare in the Word each week because other pastoral duties suck up all of their prep time. For solo pastors in small churches, this might seem especially difficult. If that is you, reevaluate your schedule so that feeding your congregation with God’s Word from the pulpit is a priority. Your people’s spiritual growth, maturity, and fruitfulness depend on it.

Reason #6: They don’t want to prepare in the Word.

Some have the necessary time to prepare in the Word, but simply don’t want to. They may prefer the ease of sharing stories of lessons they’ve learned or might be too lazy to do the hard work it takes to handle the Word of God correctly in preaching. Preacher: follow Paul’s charge to Timothy and, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Reason #7: They have only heard bad examples of expository preaching.

Some equate the term “expository preaching” with dry academic lectures that quote the Greek too much and tell you everything about ancient Philistia–but never apply anything to your life. We shouldn’t let bad examples of expository preaching cloud our thinking of the biblical mandate to preach God’s Word (2 Timothy 4:2). True expository preaching explains the text of Scripture, communicates the author’s intent, and applies it’s message to our listeners.

Reason #8: They think preaching the Word hinders the work of the Spirit in preaching.

Many believe the false dichotomy that if they preach a message from the text of Scripture, they won’t “let the Spirit move.” In reality, preachers should preach the Word in the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture and the one who illuminates it’s meaning (2 Peter 1:21). Rather than getting in the way, the Spirit aids listeners in receiving the Word by faith (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Reason #9: Their people prefer other types of preaching.

A friend of mine recently asked someone why he likes the church he attends. The man replied, “Because they don’t preach from the Bible.” Unfortunately, that is all too common.

Paul warned Timothy that, “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Not everyone wants to hear the Bible preached. Because of this, preaching the Bible might lead to suffering. In such situations, we are to, “be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).

Reason #10: They don’t view Scripture as authoritative.

Losing the authority of Scripture leaves preachers chasing the wind in an ever-changing culture with a message that bears little or no resemblance to biblical Christianity. The authority of Scripture is what gives the preacher and his congregation confidence in his message because he is proclaiming God’s message and not his own.

The Task of a Preacher

Preachers are to work hard to know and proclaim the message that God delivers in Scripture. This means understanding the context of a passage, it’s structure, it’s main idea, how it points to Christ, and how it applies to everyday life (learn more). Without each of those elements, we can tamper with God’s message by preaching moralism instead of the gospel, focusing on minor details while losing the main idea, or speaking our imperfect thoughts instead of God’s perfect Word.

If you have let any of the ten above reasons distract you from clearly explaining and applying Scripture, commit yourself to change. God’s Word is too important for us to proclaim anything else.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 3:16-4:2

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    Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

     

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares articles, resources, and updates from staff of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

     


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