How Does Your Church Make Disciples?
“How does your church make disciples?”
It was a simple question. I had a simple answer. I described the different discipleship tools and processes we used.
“But how does your church make disciples who make disciples?”
I think that question is what caused me to start squirming.
I was the recognized discipleship expert in our area. I attended a national discipleship training event every year for nine years in a row. I was the pastor of a growing church with many different discipleship groups. My bride and I led discipleship training events across the state.
I was also a little fuzzy about how to make disciples who make disciples.
Dallas Willard said, “Every church needs to be able to answer two questions. First, what’s your plan for making disciples? Second, does your plan work?”
Like many pastors, perhaps even most, I counted on my better-than-average preaching to lead people into deeper and broader relationships with our Father in heaven. (We are all above average, right?) I assumed the members of the congregation were growing in devotion to God and to his personal mission for their lives.
Putting on my Fruit Inspector hat led to a different conclusion. There was a lot more rotten fruit than any respectable farmer would tolerate.
The team I work with observes that nearly two-thirds of the pastors and staff members we serve have never been discipled. Therefore, they do not have a pattern to go by for how to make disciples. They do not know how to make disciples who make disciples who create a culture of discipleship.
Think about the things we measure regarding discipleship:
◦ Bible reading
◦ Church attendance
These are good behaviors of disciplined lives. They are not necessarily the fruit of changed lives. Larry Osborne of North Coast Church in California says, “The tools of discipleship are not the same thing as discipleship.”
To borrow from the mission statement of Willow Creek Community Church, what does a fully devoted follower of Christ look like? What are the characteristics which demonstrate true life change?
Beyond that, how do we create a culture of discipleship in our churches?
◦ What is your plan for making disciples?
◦ Does your plan work?
If your answers to these questions are not crystal clear with demonstrable results, you are not alone.
How has God uniquely wired your church to extend his kingdom? What is your next step of obedience toward creating a disciple-making culture?
We want to help you answer these questions. We want to help you multiply disciples for the kingdom of God.
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Genesis 26:26-31 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.
Genesis 22:13, 14 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.
Genesis 21:1-3 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
Genesis 6:9 This is the account of Noah and his family.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.