Training the indigenous leader for the indigenous church

As you prepare to train leaders you will need to consider the example of Jesus Christ. I believe that a secondary purpose for His ministry here on earth was to show us how to serve. He is the prime example of all that we ought to be and are to be.


The first thing that you will notice is that Jesus spent all night praying before choosing the men that He would train:

Luke 6:12 – And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

If Jesus needed all night we are sure to need much longer than that. I suggest that you begin praying right now that God would give you men that you can train.

As Jesus chose these men His purpose was to be “with” them and then send them out to preach.

Mark 3:14 – And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,

Jesus shared His life with these men. Bible college or seminary wasn’t the method of choice for Jesus. His choice was “life on life!” The primary key to training leaders is sharing life with them. It is always easier to learn when you see an example. The future national leader should see the truths that he will teach, preach, and live being lived out in flesh and blood. You are the example of what you teach.

You are to be what is he is to become.

Jesus went about doing His ministry but He always took extra time with His apostles. Notice in Matthew 13:10-17, 36. He, first, preached the message to the crowd. He was involved in active ministry both of evangelism and preaching. He was involved in public ministry. But both before and after doing ministry you find him alone with His men. The men came to ask questions about what He had been teaching.

One of the best ways to see if a man is headed towards ministry is his hunger to know. If he isn’t interested enough to come and ask questions and dig deeper than others he is giving signals that he is not interested in ministry. How hungry is the new guy?

After Jesus had taught His disciples He tested them. He did this while He was still here on earth to be able to further mature them and to correct them. As a missionary, do not wait until you leave for them to be thrown out into the ministry. Let them grow a little every week in ministry. Remember you have a limited amount of time so hurry. If you could start on day one of your term and you work a four year term then you will only have 208 weeks before you leave. If you have three services a week that works out to be only 624 services you can use to train your men. For those who use less services they simply have to do more and work quicker.

Notice that

Luke 10:1 – After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.

is a test for the apostles. He sends the apostles to preach and do ministry. The purpose obviously is to do ministry but is has a secondary purpose of seeing if they have learned the lessons given. They return in

Luke 10:17 – And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

and talk with Jesus about their ministry trip. He corrects what they have learned and thought that were incorrect. This ministry is more than theory. They are getting practical experience that is tested and approved. After each test you can be assured that they will learn more the next time around.

In Luke 8:22 we see that Jesus clearly tells them, “Let us go over unto the other side!” That is a commandment. It is something that is going to happen but they doubted Him and His Word. He corrects them in Luke 8:25. He needed them to learn. They will make mistakes. He is there to pick them up when they do and help them. Let them make mistakes when you are close enough to help them.


John 6:6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Jesus asks His disciples a question when He already knows the answer and knows what He is going to do. The purpose of the question was apparently to see if they are learning anything. Teach your students but regularly ask them questions. Let them put in practice what you are teaching and see if they are able to accomplish the task. When you see their weaknesses you will be able to help them grow.

The Great Commission given in

Matthew 28:19-20 – And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

gives us the steps for training our people. The first step is to “go!” We must go to them, seek them and take them the gospel. This commission is for the church; not just the pastors nor the apostles.

I personally believe that Jesus Christ Himself started His own church. I believe that this commission was given to the church and is therefore the responsibility of all believers.

The second important word here is “teaching” all nations. We are not trying to get people to just pray a prayer. We are trying to help them put their faith in Jesus Christ and to follow Him with all their hearts. A person needs to do more than just call on the name of the Lord. The Bible says in Romans 10:13 that all that call on His name but many times we are taking this out of context.

Romans 10:14 – How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

shows us that they can’t call on His name if they have not believed and they can’t believe if they haven’t heard, they can’t hear without a preacher and that they can’t preach unless they have been sent. In Romans 10:17 we see that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. So we must preach to make disciples.


After they have been taught they are to be baptized correctly. They have been taught enough to make a decision from the heart. They are then baptized by immersion in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

Once baptized we continue to teach them. The ministry we have is much more than just winning souls. We need to carry them on to spiritual maturity.

But perhaps the most forgotten part of the Great Commission is to teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. This is not just a theory. It is to teach them to put it into practice. Training leaders will cost us. We must spend intimate time with them to help them learn to pray, learn to get something from the Word, become a spiritual giver, witness of their faith, and just put all they are learning into practice.

As we work with them, training them, we will spend enough time with them to see if they are putting these lessons into practice. We want to be able to correct them in whatever is lacking. This is what Paul sent Titus to do in

Titus 1:5 – For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:

By the way, it is impossible to carry out the Great Commission without planting churches.

The Bible teaches three levels of discipleship in my opinion.

1. Go teach them till they get saved, win souls
2. Teach them to observe all things, mature saints
3. Teach others what you have learned, prepare leaders,

II Timothy 2:2 – And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

I would love to know what you think. Leave a comment, agree, disagree, or question. I would love to hear from you!

Books you should be ordering:

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 1

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 2

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 3

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 4

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 5

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 6

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 7

Achieving the Indigenous Principle 8

  • Posted October 12, 2014 12:53 am
    by Jonathan Anderson

    Great thoughts and all were backed up with Bible! Once again you have said so many things that are challenging me in my daily walk with God as well as the ministry here! I love how you see the three different levels of discipleship. We often forget that sometimes you may have to spend more time putting the word of God into someone’s life before they will come to a full knowledge of the gospel. Also, the idea of continuing to teach after salvation is not looked at as a high priority in most churches today. It’s so true that you must be what you desire your brothers in Christ to become. They must have a respect for you and they must at some degree want to follow your example.

    Also, great thought when you said, you must be the example that you are trying to teach!

    Thank you onece again!

  • Posted October 13, 2014 10:55 pm
    by Kanon Bloom

    How does a person develop or grow a hunger to do the work of the ministry or to grow in their desire to learn the Bible? Obviously it is God working in us to grow that desire, but what are things I can do to grow my desire to learn the ministry and grow in my relationship with God?

  • Posted October 14, 2014 8:29 am
    by Austin Gardner

    Jonathan, Thanks for the comment and for being a faithful reader. You are a blessing. I hope all is better in your family after the recent tragedy and loss of your child.

    Kanon, good question. The more you get around the ministry and see God doing things the more you are going to want to be part. It is hard to see God moving and not get excited about that. Fall in love with God. Get around others that are so in love with God. It is contagious. Listen to good Bible preaching. God will work in your life.

  • Posted October 14, 2014 1:41 pm
    by Andrew Wilder

    Great Article! It has encouraged me to pray and search out people to disciple. It also has encouraged me to dive into the word and learn more about Him, so then I could tell others about God’s precious word.

  • Posted October 14, 2014 2:14 pm
    by Alexander Spear

    Great series. Is this going to be a book one day? I was amazed at how quickly we were able to find young men here who were hungering to learn more about the word of God and how to be involved. I was also quickly mistaken in trying to be the one to pick who could/ would be future leaders. I found that if i had to push someone myself, they quickly backed off. But then others that were truly hungry stepped up and God is allowing me to train them instead. Of course, as i read here, more prayer would have helped in eliminating some of the frustration we already faced in that process. Duh!
    All that said, what can you do to encourage those that you know could lead but have no drive/ commitment? Should i decide they are not really ready, look for a spiritual problem, or just continue to lead by example and with much prayer see what happens? Thanks!

    • Posted October 14, 2014 3:39 pm
      by Austin Gardner

      Yes this will be an ebook soon. I would do what we call keep putting the ball in their court. That means give them options to serve. If they reject 3 or 4 times I wait until they show interest. I move on to the next guy.

  • Posted October 15, 2014 3:35 am
    by Travis Snode

    Another good way to stimulate your hunger and desire for the work of God is read good biographies. I know as a young men, reading what God did with men like Jim Eliot, Hudson Taylor, C T Studd, William Borden, and others really had an impact on my life. Being around others with passion for God and His work and reading about those who served God whole-heartedly provoke me to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).

  • Posted October 15, 2014 7:53 pm
    by Nancy Kelly

    Thanks for that great article. By reading the article I have learn how important it is to disciple people and how important it is to always read your Bible. So you can learn more about Jesus so you can tell people about Him.

  • Posted October 17, 2014 9:10 am
    by Eric Elrod

    When you are getting ready to baptize, are you baptizing and then organizing the church? What do you do with people who want to be baptized on the field when the church has not reached an “organized” or “indigenous” state or when you might just be doing a Bible study?

    • Posted October 18, 2014 8:20 am
      by Austin Gardner

      I don’t really just do Bible studies. I start churches. I baptize them and tell them that they will be members as soon as we get organized if they want.

  • Posted October 24, 2014 8:07 am
    by Tiny Tim

    It is a very encouraging article. I liked the 3 points at the end. It has encouraged me to study and meditateon God’s word and pray for disciples.

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