There is an overwhelming need for trained pastors to interpret and teach God’s Word faithful to His people around the world. It is estimated that nearly 85 percent of pastors worldwide lack theological education and pastoral training. This is nothing short of a gospel crisis. Hearts, Heads, & Hands seeks to combat this crisis by providing theological and pastoral training in a model that can be taught in various structures and to audiences for various contexts, thus equipping Christians, pastors, and new believers to make disciples who make disciples in obedience to the Great Commission.
I previously began introducing the framework for the topics that a disciple should know by sharing a brief example from Module 1 of Hearts, Heads, & Hands. I’m pleased to continue sharing a portion of the content in the hope that it will encourage you to systemically make disciples. In this module sample, we will explore the personal spiritual discipline of prayer (the heart); an overview of the New Testament (the head); and the pastor’s character (the hands).
The Heart: Prayer
Puritan pastor John Owen wrote, “He that is more frequent in his pulpit to his people than he is in his closet for his people is but a sorry watchman.” Indeed, prayer is an incredibly important part of the life of every Christian, and especially the pastor. It was an integral part of the life of Jesus, who rose up early to pray, spent nights in prayer, and taught his disciples how to pray. While prayer has many facets and can be done in a variety of ways—kneeling, standing, sitting, journaling, talking out loud, speaking to God silently—the important thing is to talk to your Father daily. A godly pastor develops patterns than work for drawing him near to God and keeping him there.
This is not just a discipline crucial for the pastor or the church leader who may be being trained. The discipline of prayer, much like the previously studied discipline of Bible intake, is crucial for every disciple’s daily life. There is no action that a follower of Christ takes for which prayer is not beneficial. Aside from prayers of petition for God’s intervention or for God’s wisdom, prayer is a key means by which we submit our hearts before Him. As we disciple new believers or train church leaders, we should model prayer for them by praying frequently in our time together.
The Head: Overview of the New Testament
The head portion of this module focuses on an overview of the New Testament. Of course, one could spend a lifetime studying the New Testament, but one helpful method of study is to trace themes through the Bible. This study traces five themes through each book of the New Testament: God’s sovereignty, the law, grace, Christ, and man’s responsibility. Like the overview of the Old Testament, in addition to exploring these themes in each of the books of the Bible, the author, recipients, and key events of the book are also included in Hearts, Heads, & Hands. For example, Matthew is as follows:
Author: The Apostle Matthew, a tax-collector, around AD 50s or 60s
Recipients: Written in the genre of gospel biography to Hebrew background readers. The historical events Matthew presents do not necessarily occur in chronological order. Gospel writers present events in an edited topical format to teach and explain.
Events: Matthew is the most “Jewish” of the four Gospels, emphasizing that Jesus is the Messiah, which makes it the perfect segue Gospel from the Old Testament into the New Testament.
Sovereignty—Matthew stresses the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in Jesus’ birth, ministry, and passion. Jesus’ miracles as seen in the feeding of five thousand, healings, His transfiguration, teaching with authority, prophesying and fulfillment of prophecy, and certainly His resurrection from the dead all demonstrate His sovereignty.
Law—Although many believe that the Old Testament focuses on the law and that the New Testament is all and only about grace, we must remember that Jesus said, “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished” (Matt. 5:17–18).
Grace—Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that the love we have received we ought to freely give to others, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43–44). “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing” (Matt. 6:14–15).
Christ—Matthew ends His Gospel with Christ promising to be with us. He does so in the context of His last commandment to His people. In the Great Commission He said to make disciples in all nations and teach them to obey all He had said and that He is with us to the end of the age. He is here.
Responsibility—The responsibility that Christ gives to the church, and every believer, for what we are to be doing until He returns is in that same passage. There are many good things that Christians and churches are to do, but the clear command is to share the gospel, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey all that He commanded us.
The Hands: The Pastor’s Character
The hands portion of this module examines the pastor’s character. The pastor is called by God to be above reproach, always growing in conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. In addition to God’s standards for all Christians, Paul lays out specific instructions for pastors in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
In order to meet the needs of the global church and fulfill the Great Commission, we must train pastors in a holistic fashion—hearts, heads, and hands. This complete module studies prayer, joy, and honorable thought for the pastor’s heart, the New Testament for the pastor’s head, and the pastor’s character for his hands.
Editor’s Note: The following material has been adapted from Dr. Sills’ latest book Hearts, Heads, & Hands. You can learn more about Hearts, Heads, & Hands here.