I arrived in Argentina on March 25, 2016. That was almost two months ago. I am learning the language here in a church in La Plata, about 1 hour away from Buenos Aires. The pastor of this church was trained by a missionary friend of mine, Jeff Bush. Pastor Jorge is a wonderful man of God. I am learning very much from him. He is a true servant and I am grateful to say he is also a true friend. A month or so ago he was telling me about the impact missionary Jeff Bush had here. There is much that could be said about this, but what pertains to this blog is this, Missionary Jeff gave opportunity for men here in Argentina to serve. He didn’t do it all himself. He gave opportunity to serve.
I have another missionary friend whose brother was out of church for a number of years. The brother (we will call him “Duane”) was a Christian, but had allowed some hard times in his life and marriage to stop him from being a part of a church that would love him (a church like this is what he really needed, but that is for another post). Duane started going back to church and had a number of churches near him. He finally selected one church. What made him select that specific church was not the preaching, the music, or the facilities. He said that at that church, he would be given the opportunity to serve and do something for Jesus (this was his testimony, I am sure many churches would have given him the same opportunity, but this was his perception). There is something to be said about delegation. It is often easier and faster to do it yourself, but it is not always better. Jesus trained 12 men to advance the Gospel around the world. Many more were affected, trained, and even sent out, but Jesus spent the majority of His time with 12 men. In training these men, Jesus delegated responsibility to them. Obviously, Jesus could have done it better than them, but Jesus found it important to give them opportunities to grow and serve. Here is a snippet from “The Master Plan of Evangelism” on this very subject…
Jesus was always building his ministry for the time when his disciples would have to take over his work and go out into the world with the redeeming gospel. This plan was progressively made clear as they followed him.
The patience with which Jesus brought this out to his disciples reflects on his consideration for their ability to learn. He was never premature in his insistence on action. The first invitation to the disciples to follow him said nothing about going out and evangelizing the world, although this was his plan from the beginning. His method was to get the disciples into a vital experience with God, and to show them how he worked, before telling them they had to do it.
On the other hand, Jesus did not discourage their spontaneous reactions to bear witness to their faith, and in fact, he seemed delighted that they wanted to bring others to know what they had found. Andrew got Peter, Philip found Nathanael, Matthew invited his friends to a feast in his house—and Jesus responded to these new introductions with gladness. It is well, also, to note that on several occasions Jesus specifically asked those who were helped by his ministry to say something about it to others. However, in none of these early instances is the real purpose of their life of witnessing made a matter of explicit command.
He used his disciples in other ways to help along his work, such as caring for the manual burdens of getting food and arranging accommodations for the group as they followed him. He also let them baptize some people who were aroused by his message (John 4:2). Outside of this, however, it is rather startling to observe in the Gospels that these early disciples really did not do much more than watch Jesus work for a year or more. He kept the vision before them by his activity, and in his call again to the four fishermen he reminded them that following him they were to be fishers of men (Mark 1:17; Matt. 4:19; Luke 5:10), but it does not seem that they did much about it. For that matter, even after they were formally ordained to the ministry a few months later (Mark 3:14–19; Luke 6:13–16), they still showed no evidence of doing any evangelistic work on their own. This observation perhaps should cause us to be more patient with new converts who follow us.
But as Jesus was beginning his third general tour of Galilee (Mark 6:6; Matt. 9:35), he doubtless realized that the time had come when his disciples could join him more directly in the work. They had seen enough at least to get started. They needed now to put into practice what they had seen their Master do. So “he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth” (Mark 6:7; see Matt. 10:5; Luke 9:1–2). Like a mother eagle teaching her young to fly by pushing them out of the nest, Jesus pushed his disciples out into the world to try their own wings.
Coleman, R. E. (2006). The master plan of evangelism (pp. 71–72). Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.