This series of blogs, Discipleship Reflections, are a part of an independent study for my Doctor of Ministry studies. Read, enjoy, comment. Thanks for reading.
The sixth chapter of Mark has a couple of important points to consider in understanding the ways that Jesus discipled his twelve. By this point Mark’s Gospel, the disciples were witnesses of several healings and heard a significant amount of Jesus’ teaching and preaching, and this preaching ministry led him back home to Nazareth where his preaching offended those listening. At that point, Jesus was ready to send the disciples to carry out his ministry.
7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
It is important to note how he sent them out. They were sent out in pairs rather than alone. Mark did not provide how they were paired off, but that Jesus sent them out together. When we send others off to minister, especially those early ministry experiences, it is probably best that we send them together. There is support in doing ministry together and a greater joy in carrying out the work of ministry together.
Jesus also empowered his disciples. He did more than simply say “Go.” He transferred authority to them so that they could carry out the kinds of ministry acts that they had seen him do. One of the greatest gifts we can offer to those who are going out to serve is to empower them. I believe the church’s role in helping people experience and express calling is two-fold. We are responsible for creating the kinds of environment in which people perceive some kind of ministry calling. We also are responsible for equipping people to use those gifts. Few of us can transfer any kind of supernatural authority in the way that Jesus did, but we can bless with our encouragement, our promise of prayers, and with proper preparation and equipping before sending them out.
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
After an aside telling of John the Baptist’s execution by Herod Antipas, Mark returned to the disciples’ story of their first ministry experiences. Nothing is told about their experiences. All we are told is the disciples returned to Jesus and shared with him what had occurred while they were gone. He invited them into a time of rest and debriefing after these initial experiences. It is unclear how long they had to process their experiences before a crowd began to gather, but it is apparent that this time of reflection was important in their formation. This time seems to have been cut short by the crowd that gathered to be with Jesus, but Jesus made a point of the importance to rest and reflection after busy seasons of ministry.
• How do we prepare, equip, and empower disciples for ministry in the name of Jesus? Are our methods and ways purposeful and meaningful or haphazard at best?
• How are we offering time and space for disciples to reflect on and learn from ministry experiences?