The Spring of 1994 was a crisis of faith for me. The footage of the Rwandan genocide was destroying a part of my soul that I was, at that time, unable to name. I was a passionate 25-year-old who was devoted to the efforts of reaching the unreached. Pick a plan, I was in! The 10/40 window? You bet! The last frontiers? Absolutely. But the human atrocities and horrors of Rwanda were powerfully salient for me because I had read that some people considered it a “reached” nation with around 80% of the population claiming to be Christian. The shock that I experienced was felt around the world—nothing unique there. But the nagging question of how this happened to Christians bothered me for months and caused me to deeply examine what I believed about Christian leadership, missions, and the work involved in both.
As the seasons became years a conclusion evolved that, although evangelism is essential, it must be followed up with discipleship. In essence, that season drew me to a place where I was going to commit my life and leadership to trying to help people make a difference in the practical way Christians lived their lives. I was fortunate to reread Dallas Willard and others in order to reevaluate my sense of calling. I knew that any kind of ministry that did not have practical effect was not for me.
Over the next few decades, I was blessed to work in youth ministry, academia, cross-cultural mission work in Mexico City, executive church roles, and non-profit governance. The common theme through all those varied roles has been working to make sure people and ministries are functional in their ability to help people follow Jesus in their daily lives. As others have mentioned, the need to die to ourselves and follow Jesus, rather than simply trying to be like Jesus, is a skill set. It is a combination of a knowledge base and a set of behaviors.
Some years ago, our church adopted Rooted. As expected, I was not the only one concerned with discipleship in a global context! Since 2015 we have labored to involve other people, ministries, and churches in this program. The effect has been nothing short of miraculous and deeply enriching. Leave it to the amazing leadership of African leaders to bring healing to the wound in my heart about discipleship in Africa, and now in Texas. Way to go God—kind of seems like you’re showing off, but it makes me happy.
I’ve recently been asked if Rooted is the best option. Maybe that’s the wrong question. Any tool that gets believers to address the most foundational elements of their growth in Christ can be helpful. There are some amazing resources out there. Find something that can be functionally adapted to your context, regardless of whether it’s urban, rural, small or large. But as a leader, do what you can to make the process of living obedience an actual goal. The renewed hope and passion that comes from seeing people grow will fuel ministry for you for years to come.
To learn more about Rooted, join us for our upcoming “What is Rooted?” Webinar on Thursday, May 26.
Rob Maupin grew up in a farming/ranching family in western Nebraska. He is currently serving as an executive pastor at Compass Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area. He has served in a wide variety of churches and ministry contexts over the last 30 years. Leadership development and making discipleship practical are two of his passions. He has been married to Shannon for 30 years and has two adult children. His interests include culture, the theology of leadership, ontology guitars, travel, and the outdoors.