Paul’s Discipling Team

People doing ministry today often minister alone, in contrast to Paul who ministered within a team throughout his life. He was constantly on the lookout for disciples to be on his team. In Lystra Paul meets a young disciple named Timothy and recruits him to travel with him, forming relationship that lasted over 17 years. Two years later Paul comes across a married couple named Priscilla and Aquila. He taught and equipped them for kingdom ministry that resulted in a far reaching impact.

Paul had a team of twelve who ministered with him over his 30 year ministry. I hesitate to call them a traveling team because they would often minister in one location for months or years at a time, and yet they did, like Paul, minister in various locations during their lifetime. The team included Jews, Gentiles, one married couple and a deserter who left Paul after 7 years of ministry together.  We have no evidence that the twelve were ever together at one time, nor can we be sure that they all had even met one another.

The core of Paul’s team was made up of Titus, Timothy and Luke. Titus was with Paul for 19 years, while Timothy and Luke were each with him for 17 years. The rest of the twelve were Aristarchus, Demas, Erastus, Mark, Silas, Trophimus, Tychicus, Priscilla and Aquila. The average amount of time these team members were associated with Paul was 9 ½ years.

Here are some of the reasons why Paul ministered from a team:

  1. A team provides spiritual, emotional and physical help as well as accountability.
  2. A team provides a variety of spiritual gifts. Paul knew his strengths and was aware of his weaknesses. Paul surrounded himself with men and women who would compliment his ministry.
  3. A team provides ministry options. Paul was able to send his team members to other cities when a need presented itself.
  4. A team provides an opportunity to love and serve others. The interpersonal relationships of the team members provide a picture of the good news of Jesus to the world.

Here is what I tell the men and women I disciple about forming a team:

  1. Do not approach ministry alone even as a married couple. 
  2. Pray for team members. Ask the Lord to lead you to the individuals or couples with whom you can make followers of Jesus.
  3. Ask this question: Whom would I love being with on a ministry team? With whom do I have a like heart and mind about the kingdom of God and ministry?
  4. Do not be afraid to ask someone or a married couple to consider ministering on a team with you. Team ministry is a new concept in the 21st century, and you will have to guide people into a team approach.

4 thoughts on “Paul’s Discipling Team

  1. great thoughts. I would add this thought:: Never make assumptions about potential team members. Always talk through issues of philosophy, theology, and character. If these things are not fleshed out as much as possible before hand they WILL surface in the heat of ministry whether for good or bad. Although you can never be sure every team member will be “right” you should still spend a great deal of time “getting to know them” before any promises are made.

    just a thought…

  2. I think that trust is an issue that cannot be overlooked as well. This sounds like a no-brainer, but you must be able to completely trust your team. Inevitably, every (healthy) team struggles through times of differences in opinion about which is the best way to proceed. In the midst of that, we have to be able to trust that everyone on the team is about the benefit of the common cause and not their own selfish desires. This is the one factor that will help you navigate these days of hardship.

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