If the mission of the Church is to “make disciples of all nations,” then every church should be focused on disciple-making. No exceptions!
It might seem strange, but most churches do not have the value of disciple-making as a focus. They may value “discipleship,” but that is not the same as a disciple-making focus. Discipleship is essential, but it is one part of making a disciple. Disciple-making includes evangelism, assimilation, worship, discipleship, and leadership. Disciple-making is the entire process of helping an untrained seeker become a fully trained disciple.
Making disciples is precisely what Jesus came to do. He reached people, trained them, and then sent them to repeat the process. Jesus took untrained people and helped them become fully trained disciples (Luke 6:40). Our mission today is to do the same thing Jesus did. Nothing more and nothing less.
A question every church ought to be asking is, “How many fully trained disciples have we developed”? If you cannot answer that question, you might not be aiming at the same target Jesus was aiming at. Knowing how many are in attendance, how many you baptize, and how many have trusted Christ is important. However, Jesus did not commission us to build a crowd, baptize, or help convert people. The mission was, and still is, to make disciples.
Making disciples helps people go deeper in their faith and their influence. Jesus developed his disciples and trained them to have a more significant impact on him. Jesus did not build his disciples for training sake. He was not giving them information to sit and soak. Jesus was discipling a handful of men to change the world.
I know of very few churches that highly value being a disciple-making church. Most churches I know see discipleship as a program that people can take if they choose to. That was not the case for Jesus and his disciples. Jesus was not giving them a choice to go deeper; he was calling them to a lifestyle of being and building disciples for his sake. Jesus was calling his disciples to become more like him and do what he did. That is the value of disciple-making.
The church where I pastor does not have a discipleship program. Our entire ministry is a discipleship process. From the culture to the called, we are committed to helping people become more like Christ in their character and conduct. When that happens, it changes their lives and ultimately changes the world. That is precisely why Jesus told us to “make disciples.”
Impact Discipleship Ministries is committed to helping churches and pastors learn more about discipling-making. We write blogs, have a podcast, develop curriculum, and train pastors and churches in what Jesus called us to do. If we can serve you in any way, please get in touch with us at impactdisciples.com.