The Center Serves the Edge

On Mondays I always share a quote from a book on teaching, discipleship, or leadership, and today I’ve chosen to expose you to the thoughts of two authors who created the book Discipleship That Fits.

In a compelling section of their book, these two authors discuss the importance of “the center serving the edge.” Intrigued? You’ll understand what they mean soon enough! Here are the authors in their own words:

The church’s health should not be measured primarily by how many people we can persuade to come in and hear the sermon. Too many churches set themselves up so that the people and ministries are there to serve the vision and ministry of the senior pastor. in other words, the edge serves the center.

By contrast, a church that is focused on making disciples who in turn make disciples will evaluate the church’s health differently. For this kind of church, the gifts and ministry of the senior pastor and the staff team are there to resource and equip the wider church body. Instead of the discipling impetus resting with just a few people at the center, it is released to many people on the missional edge of the church, where they intersect with the unchurched in their neighborhoods and networks of relationships. The central resources of the church – staff, finances, ministries, public worship services – are focused on glorifying Jesus by continually fueling and equipping people to go and make disciples wherever God has placed them. In this environment, the center serves the edge (p.82).

I wonder whether or not you resonate with this thought? Obviously the authors are not suggesting that the vision the pastor has for the church is unhealthy or unwanted. They suggest that his vision for equipping his people to intersect with the lost can fuel the disciplemaking process. You might even call this mindset having a “missionary mentality.” Church members are seen as missionaries to the people in the community; the pastor and staff equip the people to go out and take Jesus with them wherever they go (“Go and make disciples” – Mt. 28:18-20).

A few questions for you to ponder today:

  1. Do you agree or disagree with the authors’ point?
  2. How are you being equipped by your church to be a missionary to others wherever you go each day?
  3. How are you leading your Bible study group to engage people outside the church?
  4. What is your group’s disciplemaking plan?

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