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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Acts 21:10, 11 Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” (NLT)
Acts 20:33-35 “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (NLT)
Acts 18:9, 10 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.” (NLT)
1 Kings 19:11-13 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (NLT)