The guiding metaphor for understanding discipleship is the process Jesus used. He walked with his disciples, teaching them and showing them what he wanted them to become and to do in this world. The story of the Road to Emmaus in Luke chapter 24 depicts what this process looks like. The story begins with Jesus “coming up and walking along with them” (v.15). Jesus makes contact yet the disciples “did not recognize him.” Jesus connected with them by asking questions (v17, 19, 26), digging into their experiences and helping them see what they couldn’t yet perceive (v27). This kind of connection is made in the internal struggle in which they could not understand what Jesus was teaching them. When they arrived at the village, they offered Jesus a place to stay. Jesus committed to joining them for a meal. Here at the table, Jesus shared a regular meal in the same ritual format - becoming a covenant meal as the Eucharist by taking the bread, giving thanks, breaking it, and giving it to them (v31). It was at this moment the disciples recognized Jesus who had been walking with them all along.
Make Contact > Make Connection > Make Commitments > Make Covenant
The rubric for pastoral engagement evaluates the work of the pastor, not who the pastor is trying to reach or who is more committed to his or her work. When it comes to evaluating oneself as a pastor, many times it is the other person’s behavior being measured and held accountable whether it’s a student or employee or church member. In the case of pastoral ministry, the tables will be turned and instead measure the pastor for evaluation. How can the pastor tell if he or she is doing well?
What is missing from other evaluative tools for making disciples, such as church attendance, sermon series, and giving records, is found in what do pastors do and how do they know they’re doing it well. If there is a way to understand and evaluate the work of the pastor, this is how to do it: make contacts, recognize connections, engage in commitment to participate in their lives and work, and recognize covenant partnership with them as members of the Body of Christ. This is the pathway of making disciples in a way that Jesus did.
Pastor How-to Habit #1 -- Initiate eight new contacts every month. That’s 96 new contacts in a year.
Pastor How-to Habit #2: Twice a month celebrate a new Kingdom work in someone’s life or with the community through the work of the church during the main service; and twice a month promote new opportunities to serve in the church and in the community.
Pastor How-to Habit #3 - Select four activities outside of church that are important for some of those in your community of faith, e.g. sports league participation, workplace volunteer. Use your time in these spaces to get to know this part of your parishioners’ lives outside of their participation in church. Get to know their friends, family, and colleagues especially those not already part of your congregation. Commit to being involved in these four activities for at least four months.
Pastor How-to Habit #4 - Choose up to twelve parishioners that seek a deeper experience with Christ and walk with them in a more intimate fellowship. Pray for them, but also ask them to pray for you. Teach them from what you’re reading. Ask them what they are learning and let them teach you. A covenant is mutual and multi-directional. Agree to meet regularly even weekly for up to one to three years.