Deploy to multiply: Equip

By Clint Clifton

Anyone hoping to multiply churches must first learn to multiply leaders. As pastors, preparing others for ministry, it is in our job description. Paul instructed Timothy to “Equip the saints for the work of ministry,”(Ephesians 4:12) and to take the lessons he had learned “in the presence of many witnesses,” and “entrust” them to “faithful men” who would be able to “teach others also,” (2 Timothy 2:2).

How can we best equip those who have been called to go and spread the gospel with a church planting team? How can we best equip those who are stepping up into new positions to fill the vacancies left by outgoing missionaries?

There is a refreshingly simple answer to both of these questions. We can develop new leaders by “M.A.W.L.-ing” them (Model, Assist, Watch, Leave).

Model – Show them how to do the activity or task by doing it in front of them and explaining what you are doing.

Assist – Let them help you as you complete the task or activity, then switch roles and you become the helper.

Watch – Sit back and watch your replacement work. Be sure not to be critical of them as they work; save your comments for a time of debrief after the activity is over.

Leave – This is an important and underappreciated part of the process. Leave and let your replacement work without feeling scrutinized by your watchful eye.

We live in a day where most instruction happens in the classroom and where job skills are not required to receive satisfactory scores. This is not how Paul (and Jesus, for that matter) developed leaders for ministry. His approach was to encourage others to imitate him and his activities. Consider these passages:

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17).

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

I know what you are thinking: “That’s really simple. That’s not a strategy. That’s what people do intuitively to help others learn.” Yes, it is! But, somehow, we have slipped into a pattern for discipleship that includes a lot of instruction and virtually no imitation. So, how do we use this simple memory device to develop outgoing and incoming ministry leaders?

Application for M.A.W.L.-ing your outgoing leaders

Outgoing leaders will likely be filling a particular role or roles on the church planting team. The Sending Church can prepare the outgoing leaders for the tasks they face ahead. Maybe someone in your finance department can “M.A.W.L.” the volunteer bookkeeper for the new church. Maybe your youth pastor can “M.A.W.L.” a member of your core team to help them get some experience ministering to students. The possibilities are endless for leveraging the experience of your congregation for the benefit of this church planting team.

Application for M.A.W.L.-ing your incoming leaders

The members of your church planting team should have the expressed goal of replacing themselves before the new church begins. With the help of the Sending Churches leadership, new leaders should be selected months before the new church begins. Encourage the new leaders to choose someone else they can teach the skills you are teaching them. There should be an expectation in every aspect of your church’s ministry that God will call from your midst to minister to others nearby and abroad. Because of this, new leaders are always needed.

Every transition is an opportunity

Every leadership transition your church goes through is an opportunity to improve the overall quality of the work you do. There is no such thing as a perfect leader. As ministries are developed, the priorities of a particular leader emerge. When a new leader takes over, new priorities are introduced and can improve the overall quality of the ministry. Maybe you have had a children’s ministry director that really valued Scripture memory. As a result, the kids who come to your church have memorized a lot of Scripture. As the former leader moves on and a new leader is installed, the priority of Scripture memory remains and the new leader implements new priorities.

This blog is an excerpt from Clint Clifton’s e-book, Deploy to Multiply. Get the entire e-book here.

Published August 1, 2017

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Clint Clifton

Clint Clifton passed away on January 12, 2023, as a result of a small plane crash. Clint and his wife, Jennifer, had been married since 2000 and have five children. He completed a B.A. from The Baptist College of Florida and an M.A. from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. Clint founded Pillar Church in Dumfries, Virginia, in 2005. He oversaw the fruitful church planting efforts of Pillar Church and served as Senior Director of Resource and Research Strategy for the North American Mission Board.