By: Joshua Woodlief
The number twelve changed the world. A movement was started with twelve. Twelve changed my life. Jesus used twelve ordinary men, who weren't the most scholarly to change the world (this gives me hope). It was a movement of ordinaries. A movement of people who doubted themselves and whom the world doubted as well. Jesus could have started this thing we call the church or Christianity any way he wanted, but he chose twelve. Jesus could have shown up and demanded that the world turn to him and we would have had no choice, but this was a different kind of kingdom he was building. This kingdom had humble beginnings.
We will focus on the kingdom in future writings, but for today we will focus on twelve. Jesus started the church with twelve. Those twelve multiplied very quickly on the day of Pentecost, by 3000 people. This was an incredible day in the history of the church, well I guess it was the first day of it all... so yeah, that's big. So it all started with twelve, and here we are today, a couple thousand years later.
I mentioned in the beginning of this blog what twelve had changed, now let me tell you what it hasn't changed. Pastors. Pastors in the modern American church are like superheros. They never grow weary and they can do everything by themselves. They stretch themselves thin, but they never rip because that is one of their superpowers, they are very stretchy. I used to love comic books when I was a kid. One of my favorite superheros was Superman. The first real comic book that I owned was a Superman comic that my brother bought me. This guy kicked butt and took names. He was the guy that would kick your teeth in and was also the guy who the ladies thought was sexy. He had it all! Superman did have one weakness though. He was great until you threw Kryptonite at him... I believe that a pastor's Kryptonite is discipleship. Because they think that they are superheros they honestly believe that they have to be available to everyone at all times. They think that discipleship is their responsibility and theirs alone, and just like Superman, this Kryptonite has sucked from them of all of their strength.
This is not what Jesus did. Jesus spoke to the masses, but time and time again we see Jesus explaining what he taught to his twelve. They were the ones he did life with. They were the ones who he knew best. They were the ones who were taught the deep secrets of the kingdom. Of those twelve, Jesus had three that were his closest, his best friends if you will. These were the ones that really got to see his heart. Jesus modeled community to us and few of us take this concept of twelve literally. When we as pastors think that we can do it all and disciple everyone we slowly begin to lose our effectiveness. We slowly get tired and burnt out. When we wake up to the Kryptonite in our lives it is too late. We have stripped ourselves of our joy and like some superheros we lose our desire to save lives. I have seen this countless times and I don't want it to happen to me. It can't let it.
I would love to see what would happen if leaders and pastors started teaching their people this principle. The pastors of our churches would not have to kill themselves for the church, but rather the church would grow because of true discipleship. This is how the people of a church minister. It isn't just the pastor's job. Imagine if a person decided that they were going to pour their lives into 12 people. They would teach them everything they know and live life together. Now imagine if that twelve went and got twelve for themselves. That makes 144... Now imagine if that 144 went and got 12 a piece. That's 1,728 people. If that 1,728 people were taught to truly disciple 12 for themselves then the number would reach an amazing 20,736. This many people could be true disciples of Jesus Christ because one person sought out twelve and taught them to go get twelve. We like to make things so complicated in Christianity. I think that this example Jesus gave us is so simple that we just don't believe it will work.
This is not just a conversation for pastors though. As Christians we should be in a constant process of being discipled and discipling. This is not your pastor’s responsibility alone. A pastor should be a leader to those in his/her sphere of influence, but being a pastor doesn't mean that we are responsible for everyone that walks through the door. This is another reason pastors get burnt. No one steps up to help and all of a sudden the pastor is in superhero mode. As a pastor, the cry of my heart would be to ask people to step up and join this process. We can't do it alone. I truly believe that we can raise up a people who are devoted and obsessed with their Savior if we will only find twelve who will go find twelve who will go find twelve...