Building Life Changing Churches – Gordon MacDonald at WCAUK iDisciple

He was invited to speak at West Point. Saw that it was a place to train and qualify top people to go anywhere in the world and immediately get the job done, whatever the job is. How do you train people like that?


Do we show any interest in developing leaders? Not just the ‘anyone can come’ one. A West Point for church? The number 1 job for a Pastor = training the bext generation of leaders. It’s more important than preaching.


Heschel – We don’t need text-books but text-people.


Titus 2:1-8  Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around.


Be a text-person!

Why not let training people (discipling/mentoring etc) be 20% of our ministry function?

Jesus was a Rabbi. It’s enlightening to study how they worked and lived.

Many were either itinerant, travelling around – their job = 1) settle disputes 2) teach their interpretation on key passages 3) train new ones.

One trains a few, who train a few = compound influence.

If well known, rich people would pay for their sons to follow a particular Rabbi (eg., Paul says, ‘I studied under Gamaliel.’ – It’s like ‘I went to Oxbridge.’)

If not well known, then the Rabbi would recruit. And there would be a selection process, and a contract that everyone would know.

Formal invitation = If the Rabbi was recruiting, he would say, ‘Will you follow me?’

If someone was coming wanting to be apprenticed to a Rabbi, he would say, ‘May I follow?’ Jesus always said no to that one. He prayed and chose people.

If you agreed to be schooled by a rabbi, you were saying, ‘I will do everything you ask.’ He would make the master’s life comfortable, get the food etc. Study his rabbi completely – and become so like him that nobody could tell the difference. Wore the same clothes. Ate the same. The rabbi was the model for the Word of God incarnated – the Rabbi.The disciple would imitate and emulate him completely. cf Galatians 2;20!

Various rabbis had different ‘brands’: revolution, obedience, etc

Jesus brand = LOVE. ‘Watch how I love and serve – you do the same. If you will love each other, the whole world will know you’re living according to my brand.’

Is that how the church is known? As the people of love?

Rabbis built a community, then tested them by sending them out and asking questions when they returned. For 3 years, they did nothing right, by the way! But he was making them into world changers.

Finally, he says, ‘Now YOU enlarge my teaching by me sending you out.’

Rabbis had a 100 year strategy to bring about change. It takes 7 years at least to bring real change and start to see the real fruit. The Rabbinical style is slow – but sure.

There would come a point when the Rabbi released their students. Jesus said, ‘I no longer call you servants but friends. Greater things will you do. I will be with you (incarnated in that event).’

Why not train a few like this? 20 -25 people a year get invited maybe…

Qualities for selection

Teachability/ desire to grow

Essential social skills

Willing to Participate

Showed leadership potential


Not identified by chronic problems

Spiritually hungry/curious. 

Pray for them. Invite them for dinner. Then tell them what you have seen in them.

‘If you will give us Monday nights, 3 hours, for 1 year and not miss a night – at all, then sign up and we will pour everything into you.’ Maybe 14 will sign up to a high challenge like that. The top people WANT to be challenged!

Get them together to be rooted and strengthened in Christ in a Learning Community and then point them to leadership opportunities in the church and the world.

Curriculum includes;

Temperament (Myers Briggs etc)

Analytical reading (scripture, books, articles, decode the author). 

Dialogue (not discuss, no losers, we all get insight TOGETHER). 

Spiritual Disciplines – how to pray, fast etc

Christian Character – what is a man/ woman of God

Spiritual gifts

Manuscript then tell the whole story of your life. (you go first)

Shadowing Leaders


Leadership skills


Learning through Failure


This is how we build life changing churches from within. This is the MUSCLE for the Body.