There’s a story from World War II where The Red (Russian) Army sent wave after wave of untrained, practically weaponless soldiers into the thick of the German front. They were slaughtered in droves.
Why did they do this? Because they knew that eventually the German soldiers would run out of ammunition, creating an opportunity for the Red Army to send in their best soldiers to finish them off. The first wave of untrained soldiers were the best way of exhausting ammunition, leaving their enemy vulnerable.
While this isn’t a perfect analogy, I sense this is a bit like the missional movement right now. We are sending bright-eyed civilians into the battle where the fighting is fiercest without the equipping they need, not just to survive, but to fight well and advance the Kingdom of their dad, the King.
The missional movement will fail because, by-and-large, we are having a discussion about mission devoid of discipleship.
Unless we start having more discussion about discipleship and how we make missionaries out of disciples, this movement will stall and fade. Any discussion about mission must begin with discipleship. If your church community is not yet competent at making disciples who can make disciples, please don’t send your members out on mission until you have a growing sense of confidence in your ability to train, equip and disciple them.
Here are some questions I have leaders I’m working with ask regularly:
- Am I a disciple?
- Do I know how to disciple people who can then disciple people who then disciple people, etc? (I.e., does my discipleship plan work?)
- Does our discipleship plan naturally lead all disciples to become missionaries? (Not just the elite, Delta-seal missional ninjas.)