A Real Mission Will Mobilize Members (by David Butts)

If we aren’t careful, we can look at a topic like mobilizing our members as just a contemporary church-growth topic. Another method to be tried and then discarded when the next new thing comes along. Mobilizing our members isn’t the latest, new church-growth fad. It is an ancient technique developed to a high art by Jesus. In Matthew 10, Mark 6, and Luke 9, we read how Jesus mobilized his disciples and sent them out on a life-changing mission. They had been living with Jesus for a good period of time, watching what he did and learning from him. Now it was time for them to go out in pairs to take the teachings and mission of Jesus to places that Jesus would not be going to personally.

Scripture doesn’t tell us about the feelings of the disciples as they embarked on this ministry journey.  Were they worried or anxious? Did they feel that they didn’t quite measure up to the task given them? Jesus didn’t just tell them to teach, but to drive out demons and heal people. What if it didn’t work? I can only imagine what was going on inside these disciples. Jesus, however, was not going to be content with followers who simply sat and listened. His disciples, then and now, were to be those who actively followed him in kingdom service. Lives would be changed as believers were mobilized into doing the Word of God.

We have much to learn today as we examine Jesus’ methods for developing and mobilizing disciples. Without a doubt, the beginning place that is absolutely essential for mobilizing members is to make sure we are dealing with those who are spending time with Jesus. The disciples who embarked on this mission for Jesus were the disciples who had spent much time with Jesus. These first disciples didn’t show up for a meeting with Jesus once a week. They lived with him. They watched what he did and listened to what he said. They saw how he interacted with people. They went on fishing trips with him and were amazed by his miraculous works. They saw him pray and realized the depth of his love for and amazing attachment to his father. 

Could it be that the biggest roadblock to mobilizing members for ministry is that we are dealing with people who don’t really know Jesus? I’m not suggesting that they are not believers, but belief might actually be the extent of their encounter with Jesus. Do they really know Him? Dallas Willard suggests that the missing piece in our discipling process is helping people form attachments to Jesus. Without that very real attachment (love), we will never move beyond a cerebral approach to knowing Jesus. First-century disciples formed an attachment to Jesus that caused them to follow him wherever he led them. You don’t see Jesus trying to talk the disciples into doing something for him. Their attachment to him provided the motivation needed to bring them to action on his behalf. Calling people to spend their days with Jesus is the first and main step in mobilizing members to mission.

When you look at the three scriptural passages that speak of this mobilization of disciples to powerfully minister on behalf of their Lord, you find another important step beyond their attachment to Jesus. The Lord gave them clear instructions on how he wanted them to minister. This was so significant that the entire tenth chapter of Matthew is given over to those detailed instructions.  The Church today must see the brilliance and practicality of Jesus’ method. He did not simply send the disciples out to serve. He gave them very detailed instruction, even to the extent of what to take with them and where to stay.

This was new territory for the disciples. They most certainly were excited but also nervous about this mission that was given them. To help them and keep them focused, Jesus showed them exactly what he wanted them to do. The biggest danger for us today is to look at those instructions and try to copy them. Now, there are some good principles in what Jesus said to the disciples, but we live in a different culture. This is not the place for us to try to make a square peg fit into a round hole. What is important for us is seeing the importance Jesus places on giving clear instructions to his disciples about how he wanted them to minister to others in his name. The Church is called to mobilize its members to ministry. The Apostle Paul in Eph.2:10 made it clear that we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” We do that best when we develop disciples of Jesus who have learned to walk daily with him in intimacy through the Word and prayer. Then, as we move disciples toward life-changing ministry, we train them with clear instructions on how to serve Jesus in many ways and places.


Dave-Butts-photo.jpegPost Script: On November 26, 2022, Dave’s wife, Kim, shared the following: “Many of you have heard already; however, my precious Dave went to be with Jesus at 8:30 this morning. His homegoing was peaceful and I was blessed to be with him as he stepped from this life to his eternal reward. I can picture him hearing, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"  Dave’s passion was to see the Church awakened to the Presence of Christ through prayer. From 1974-1992, Dave served in various pastoral roles in local churches. In 1993 Dave and his wife, Kim, launched Harvest Prayer Ministries. He served on several Boards of Directors and committees focused on prayer, revival, and evangelism including:

  • President, Gospel Revivals, Inc. (Herald of His Coming)
  • Chairman, America’s National Prayer Committee
  • Chairman of the Board, National Day of Prayer
  • Treasurer, Denominational Prayer Leaders’ Network
  • Chairman, Pioneer Bible Translators Board of Directors
  • Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Ministries - Lincoln Christian College (1975)
  • Bachelor of Arts in US History – Indiana State University (1978)
  • Master of Arts in US History – Indiana State University (1982)
  • PhD in Theology – Atlantic Coast Theological Seminary (2014)
Author Besides authoring numerous magazine articles on prayer and missions for various publications, Dave’s books include:
  • With One Cry
  • Forgotten Power
  • When God Shows Up
  • Desperate for Change
  • The Devil Goes to Church
  • Prayer and the End of Days
  • Asleep in the Land of Nod
  • The Giving Church
Co-authored with his wife Kim:
  • Vertical with Jesus
  • Revolution on Our Knees
  • Volunteer Prayer Ministry
  • Pray Like the King