October 15, 2019

I was meditating recently on church growth (or ministry growth). As I reflected I asked myself (inspired by the Holy Spirit), “what are the things that contributed to the growth of the home group we started?”

I cannot say that I have the absolute answer. But I will share what Pastora and I did as the lead pastors of this call WITH PASSION, JOY AND INTENSITY. 

  1. We prayed desperately 

  2. We read the Word diligently 

  3. We discipled with consistency 

  4. We evangelized with expectation 

  5. We fellowshipped genuinely 

  6. We trained leaders intentionally 

  7. We appointed leaders vulnerably 

*As you read and reflect, take notice how all of the elements of DESATAR is found within these points. 


1. We prayed desperately (Adoration, Empowerment) 

Prayer is undeniably the most powerful source to fulfilling the assignment God has given us. Without the practice of this point all of the following points are in danger of being vain religious works. Pastors must continually pray for the sheepfold [1], for the Harvest, and God-inspired Wisdom. Prayer keeps us in tune with the voice of God, therefore allowing us to be sensitive to His direction and leading.  A life of prayer includes fasting and worship. Fasting is not only abstaining from food, but it includes anything that draws us away from times of intimacy with God [2]. There are many times that I have had to dismiss the use of television, even hobbies in order to reset and rightly worship God. There is nothing greater than to declare to God, I will spend this day in consecration to worship You, hear You and receive insight from your Spirit. 


Consistency in prayer will draw you into the prophetic. This is essential for all pastors. Prophetic insight will allow you to preach a relevant Rhema to God’s people. It will equip you with a word, wisdom in counseling and leadership. The closer you are the greater the revelation of the hidden things become. This revelation may include insights into the lives of the saints, this is not for judgement or arrogance, it is for restoration and guidance [3]. A pastor must have vision, this is downloaded in prayer along with Holy Spirit inspired creativity. When we don’t know what to do next, PRAY with all kinds of prayers and supplications [4]. 

[1] 1 Samuel 12:23 

[2] Jeremiah 29:12

[3] Jeremiah 33:3 

[4] Ephesians 6:18

2. We read the Word diligently (Discipleship, Empowerment) 

The Word is alive and active [1]. Jesus makes a marveling statement when he was praying for the Disciples, He asked the Father to sanctify them with the Truth, which is the Word [2].  

A Prayer life without the Word is dangerously equivalent to setting out on a long journey (in a car) without a map, it will only lead to lost time, detours and frustrations. This is precisely why God commanded Joshua to remain in the Word, so that ALL of his ways would be prosperous [3]. I liken the Word of God in our deposit to arrows in the sheath of a warrior, the more arrows the more effective the warrior. The Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance what is already in our deposit in moments of teaching, testifying, instructing and contending for the Truth. The minister that is versed in the Word is equipped for great things and they will see many victories.

[1] Hebrews 4 

[2] John 17:16-17 

[3] Joshua 1:8


3. We discipled with consistency (Discipleship, Transformation) 

Discipleship must not only be intentional, it must be consistent. Jesus spent 3 1/2 years with the same 12 men. Unfortunately, the culture today appeals to a “microwave” mentality to discipleship and mentorship. Our experience taught us that the commission of Disciple making [1] is not a instantaneous event that takes place in a classroom setting, although it can be initiated in a classroom, it is to be lived out. The Commission is a life-long process. As a pastor’s territory increases they may not have 20 disciples but showing themselves to be wise stewards [2] they will empower others to become disciple makers [3] and they will always have a few that they impart to. That’s called multiplication. 


The greatest thing to grasp is that there will always be true disciples and would be disciples and either may fall in one of the following categories: a) The Religious, b) The Talented/Gifted, and c) the unregenerate. I believe if you understand the following it will help you avoid becoming disillusioned and frustrated with varying results and it will help you remain focused on the subject at hand, Discipleship!


a) The religious base their discipleship on a set of legalistic or liberal rules that they have inherited from their former church, upbringing, or carnal nature. 

b) The talented and gifted are not challenged by the leadership to be disciples and often live in the church as worship leaders that have no substance and the applause and recognition that comes from their gift/talent overshadows the desperate need to be transformed. 

c) The unregenerate can sit in the church, sit in discipleship class, praise and dance during worship, but they will resist biblical change. In all of these cases we must be diligent in promoting the need to be transformed by the renewing of the mind [4].

[1] Matthew 28:19-20

[2] Matthew 25:14–30

[3] Titus 2:2-12

[4] Romans 12:1-2


4. We evangelized with expectation (Action, Relationships) 

We have been called to preach the Gospel to all of the world [1]. One of the most powerful and effective approaches to evangelism is to tie it into discipleship. Unwittingly, this is what we did in the early years of DESATAR and I am eager to return to this method. Part of the Discipleship Class requirement was to “Take Action.” Because it has been revealed to us that the BEST form of evangelism is done on the basis of RELATIONSHIPS, “Take Action” involved encouraging the new disciples in their identity as Ambassadors of Christ [2]. We instructed and encouraged them to reach out to family and friends and preaching the Gospel. We are witnesses to the harvest that this Holy Spirit inspired model has brought in. 

Evangelism is about sowing seeds, but it is also about reaping the harvest that Jesus said was plentiful [3]. We cannot be content with passing tracts, we must be bold and ready to preach Christ and share our testimony [4], with the end goal to bring them to saving grace. Soul winning is the emphasis of pastoral work and care [5], it must be executed with diligence and the harvest must be anticipated with favorable expectation. Again, I most strongly emphasize, “Evangelism is about sowing seeds, but it is also about reaping the harvest… We cannot be content with passing tracts, we must be bold and ready to preach Christ with the end goal to bring them to saving grace…”


[1] Mark 16:15 

[2] 2 Corinthians 5:20

[3] Matthew 9:37 

[4] 1 Peter 3:15

[5] 2 Timothy 4:5


5. We fellowshipped genuinely (Relationships, Transformation) 

We became family first with our  small group. Our fellowship with our small group was not about filling a church pew, completing a task, or fulfilling a personal need. It was about becoming family. Most, almost everyone, who is saved are saved from surroundings that are spiritually unhealthy. The availability to create and foster new relationships in the family we call the church is imperative to the growth, life, and transformation to all disciples [1]. Without the component of genuine relationships, everything becomes a mundane business transaction. Although the administrative aspects of ministry is business, the personal aspect is about relationships. 

Fellowship will be among the most expensive investment that you will make in the kingdom and church planting. In the church plant process our lives were becoming integrated with theirs. Clearly, this was with proper boundaries and without abandonment of our home and family. However, it was a sacrificial consideration to stir up the goodness from those in our midst [2]. In order to do so, with success, we unwittingly made many reasonable personal sacrifices. We put our dream on hold, we made a diversity of financial contributions to the ministry, we made time to spend in fellowship and we learned to Love. 

Our dream was to build a 2500 sqft home in Menomenee Falls. As you have heard the testimony before, we had blueprints, a vacant lot on contract, and the builder lined up, but God caused us to understand that it should wait. In other words, God’s plan was greater than our “dream”  and we trusted Him. We have NOT ONE REGRET. I consider financial contributions both towards the church for a new building or towards the fellowship, such as providing meals or treats to the fellowship. Our leading was not just in the preaching and teaching but in examples of spirit led generosity, in this others were inspired to do the same. 

Side note: Challenge your disciples to ask themselves “what is Holy Spirit inspired generosity?” I suspect it will be over and beyond what the guarded, intellectualized standard many disguise as wisdom. Remember widow of Zarephath.

The most expensive investment will be time. Our time is priceless and when planting/building a church, it must be a willing sacrifice. The unwillingness to share time is why the churches of God struggle with brotherhood and attendance and it is why we are exhorted to be consistent in fellowship [3]. It is vital to understand that fellowship is not only about having a cup of coffee and a donut after a service. It goes beyond that. It includes spending time outside of church and apart from “church business.” In all of these investments, this I know to be true, we cannot out give God, He is faithful and rewarding to those that are steadfast.

This process of letting our lives become part of theirs and theirs part of our has taught us much, above all, it has taught us s to love people. It is IMPOSSIBLE to pastor without loving the people [4]. In fact, I will be bold to say that pastoring without the willingness to learn how to love people will destroy both the pastor and the flock. Love releases a culture of brotherhood, humility and honor [5].

[1] Acts 2:42 

[2]Hebrews 10:24

[3] Hebrews 10:25

[4] 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 

[5] Romans 12:10 

6. We trained leaders intentionally (Empowerment, Transformation, Action, Adoration) 

Pour out what you have! I say it again, give the people what you have. If Pastora and I waited to satisfy the foolish notion that nagged at us to “be qualified” no one we lead would have increased. But with humility and confidence in God we often declared “Lord multiply this little bread and fish.” In other words, we did not deny that we did not have much, but we were confident that God could do great things with little. Without arrogance we did not disqualify ourselves and neither did we willfully allow others to despise us [1]. Training up leaders takes both trust in God and a Kingdom perspective. Pastors are called to build-up [2]. If the pastor errs in the fascination of being the one-man-band he/she will be in danger of self-destruction and disenfranchising of God’s people [3]. Training leaders is the most effective and rightful way of advancing the Kingdom of Heaven [4]. A church filled with spirit filled and competent leaders is a healthy church and a growing church. 


It will be very tempting to use resource like “Good to Great”, “Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” or something like “Jesus CEO”, to help become a better leader. While there is nothing wrong with these kinds of self-help books, be careful. First, understand that you are dealing with a group of individuals, all unique in personality and purpose. Rubber stamping will not work in any form of leadership, throw out the rubber stamp. However, there is a work of literature that is crucial to the development of Kingdom leaders, that is the Living Word of God [5]. It will be the foundation, building block and capstone to all of your leadership training, formation and spiritual transformation. Never let it become secondary to any extrabiblical source. 


One last thing. In order for your training to be effectively intentional you must see what God sees. He sees purpose in men/women while they are still in the womb [6]. As you pray for your group this is a point of supplication, that you may see what God sees, so that you may rightly direct and appoint. 

[1] 1 Timothy 4:12 

[2] Ephesians 4:11 

[3] Exodus 18:17-23

[4] 2 Timothy 2:1-2

[5] 2 Timothy 3:16

[6] Jeremiah 1:5


7. We appointed leaders vulnerably (Service, Action) 

The closing point above was the need to “see what God sees” in potential leaders. Another necessary task will be for the Holy Spirt to help you show them what they cannot see, which is the gifting and the calling. 

A word of wisdom:in the early stages, be not to prematurely disclose the gifting or call over a person’s life. Failing to be cautious can result in negative consequences [1] , allow the person to enter into a strong, solidified discipleship process. 


Appoint leaders requires wholesome vulnerability. I believe that pastors fail at appointing leaders for the following reasons: a) arrogance, b) insecurity, c) lack of vision. 

a) We must rebuke the temptation to disqualify someone because they are not identical to us, or judge their outer appearance or slow transformation progress, that would be arrogance [2]. God warned Samuel not to look at the outer appearances, which could include good looks, charm, or credential. When it comes to ministry, God is mostly concerned with the heart [3]. 


b) Insecurity is poison to all leadership. David became the protege of Saul. Saul had the opportunity to pour out the best of himself for the next generation, but he could not handle the idea of his successor becoming greater than him [4]. That is pure ignorance. Jesus looked at His proteges, the 12 Disciples and declared over their live that they would do greater things [5]. This is the same desire that pastors should have over every Spirit-filled, pure hearted protege that they are blessed to impart to. 


c) A lack of vision will stall even the greatest gifts in the desert. The Pastor must project the present and future needs and build up a team that will accommodate the need, in order to drive and expand the Kingdom purpose [6]. 

[1] 1 Timothy 3:6

[2] Romans 12:3

[3] 1 Samuel 16:6

[4] 1 Samuel 18:8 

[5] John 14:12

[6] Acts 6:1-7