I use to make a living stumbling around in the dark. Part of my job as a Ranger Instructor in the US Army was to train students to move through densely vegetated mountainous terrain during hours of limited visibility. Simply put, we would walk around in the woods at night in pitch blackness getting poked in the eyes with sharp sticks. Now doesn’t that sound fun? But I have found that many people do the same spiritually (and I’m not just talking about lost people). Jesus is trying to make it easier on us. He said He is the light (John 8.12) and that we too were the light of the world (Matthew 5.14-16). That’s a whole lot of light in the world! And yet, sometimes, we find ourselves walking in darkness (even in our ministry to others). And that’s what I want to focus on in this post. I want to shed a little light on a clear path for ministry.
I actually started learning this early on in the Navigators. They had this thing call the “Six Critical Factors.” Pure genius! These were principles plucked from the Scriptures that gave us a comprehensive guide to ministry. A road map, if you will. A clear path.
1) Laying the Foundation
2) Going to the Lost
3) Discipling our Generation
5) Laborers and Leaders
6) Spiritual Generations
Like I’ve said before, I need crayons with my tools, so this was right up my alley. Super simple.
So when we started hanging out with the NoPlaceLeft peeps and saw the same principles expressed in an illustration called the Four Fields, I was like, “OK, even I can do this.”
Jesus taught using a lot of agricultural parables so I’m going to do the same to explain the Four Fields Illustration. I’ll tell you a simple story and see if you can pick out the six guiding principles. (By the way, don’t get this mixed up with the Parable of the Sower. It has some parallels but it’s not what I’m talking about)
A farmer goes out into an empty field and sows seed. As the seed takes root and begins to grow and mature the farmer nurtures it. And then at the right season, the farmer gathers the crops together in the harvest. The work is so great he enlists the help of fellow laborers to help him in the fields. He is also completely dependant on God to provide the right weather for the crops to grow.
Did you identify the six principles? Here they are:
- GO – Empty Fields – Engaging Lost People
- GOSPEL – Sowing the Seed – Sharing the Gospel
- GROW – Nurturing the Crops – Making Disciples
- GATHER – Gathering the Crops – Healthy Church
- GUIDE – More Laborers – Reproducing Leaders
- ABIDE – Dependance on God – Abiding Deeply in Christ
Super simple right? Now that’s a clear path! But the thing I like about the Four Fields is that it comes right out of Jesus’ playbook for making disciples.
Engaging Lost People
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17.18)
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. (John 15.16)
Sharing the Gospel
Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.18-20)
“A disciple is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach (Mark 3.14)
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)
Abiding Deeply in Christ
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
Now that’s a very clear path! I know what to do; I’m going to engage lost people with the gospel. And when they receive it, I will disciple them and gather them into the community that the Bible calls church. I will be a leader and train others to lead because the work of the kingdom is so great. And because kingdom work is both great in its endeavor and scope, I will completely depend on Jesus to see it grow. Jesus had a clear path for ministry and now, I have a clear path for ministry. No more stumbling around in the dark.
Do you have a clear strategy for practicing the Great Commission? Is this more than just theory and you’re actually doing it? Are you training others in a clear path for ministry? Are you constantly going back to Jesus for His example and guidance?
SIX CORE PRINCIPLES