From Telling to Modeling

In the early stages of my Christian life, the Lord connected me to a man who laid a strong foundation in my life. He did this by modeling the priorities of prayer and the study of Gods Word. This man’s example motivated me to start practicing prayer and studying Gods Word early on in my walk with the Lord. Through him, I learnt that one of the best ways to enforce behavioral change in an individual is through modeling.

The Meaning of Modeling

The word Modeling comes from the word Model and means: A standard or example for imitation or comparison.

Modeling is an intentional act for the purpose of shaping people in the direction that they would like to go, in order to achieve their intended goal or purpose. This is done by providing a pattern of behavior, or conduct and living out a set of values.

The Role of Modeling in Mobilising Disciplemaking

Modeling in mobilising a disciplemaking movement refers to intentionally demonstrating a way of living that will bring about behavioral change in kingdom leaders or followers. There cannot be effective multiplication and growth without a model. Any movement or person that has made history has often been thanks to the model (person) they chose to align themselves with. The theme of modeling is very consistent throughout Scripture. For example, in 2 Chronicles 34 we read the story of Josiah who became a king at age of 8. The Bible records that Josiah succeeded because he followed in the examples of his ancestors David. Paul succeeded in ministry because he followed the example of Jesus Christ and encouraged the Corinthians to do the same (1 Corinthians 11:1). This is why it is so important to walk the talk; people follow the doers and not the talkers. Adopting Jesus as our model for life and ministry is very important – especially in these times where there is a lot of deception and the centrality of the Word of God is rare in many churches.

It is very important to note that people will be quick to follow or adopt any practice that they have seen producing good results. Teaching people through modeling is one of the most effective ways of transferring or passing on Jesus life to the next generation. While it is crucial that we point the leaders we are working with to Jesus model of multiplying movements of disciplemaking, it is also important for us model it to them.

Examples from the Life of Jesus

A careful study of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ reveals that Jesus strategy of multiplying movements was done through modeling and not just telling. There are many examples of this in the life of Jesus. Once such instance is found in Luke 11. When Jesus finished praying, His disciples came to Him and asked, Master teach us how to pray. The disciples witnessed the results produced from the prayers of their master and they had no choice but to ask Him to teach them how to pray. It was first modeling and then teaching. In another account, Jesus tells His disciples to love each other just as I have loved you (John 15:12). Multiplying movements of disciplemaking takes place by modeling. If we want to see a movement of disciplemaking take place in our communities and nations, we need to be personally involved with disciplemaking. We cannot merely tell people what they should be doing. We need to model it for them.

How to Move from Telling to Modeling

The question that we need to ask ourselves is how do we move from telling to modeling?

Firstly, we have to put on the character of Jesus; our attitudes, actions, words and lifestyle must reflect Jesus. This is very crucial for us to understand on a personal level, as well as to share with the people we are discipling. A man I am journeying with once said to me: I think the only way to be effective is to be like Jesus. His statement excited my soul!

Secondly, multiplying movements of disciplemakers must start with each of us at our local church level and in the city where we are. This will give us credibility to the churches and leaders we are working with.

Thirdly, going deep with an individual or small group is an effective step in the modeling process. If we model well at the go deep level we will bear good fruit.

It is undeniable that moving from telling to modeling is crucial to multiplying movements of disciplemakers as well as to transferring Christs character and life to the next generation. If we neglect modeling, we are going to produce a Christianity that will have no substance and the end result will be a godless generation. Today, we have Christians scattered all over the world because Jesus modeled a movement of disciplemaking. The pattern that Christ demonstrated to the world was modeled by the Apostles, this was continued by the early church Fathers and subsequently modeled by many other disciplemakers down through the ages. The call, and challenge, is for us to join in this and model Christs way to those we are discipling!