The longer I am in ministry, the more clearly I notice the differences between true disciple making and Christian education. There are many people in church leadership today who think Christian education is the same thing as Jesus-style disciple making. They are not the same thing! Let me attempt to summarize the difference.
First, Christian education is about knowing more. Disciple making is about being and doing more! The end-product of Christian education is to increase knowledge. You might study books of the Bible or theological topics to accumulate more knowledge. Jesus did give His disciples knowledge, but not simply for the purpose of knowing more. Rather, so they could accomplish the mission of making more disciples.
I see lots of teaching on the topic of disciple making that ultimately does not move the mission forward. Christian education should always be a means to making more disciples.
Second, Christian education happens in classrooms, disciple making happens life-on-life! Teaching was only one part of Jesus’ overall disciple making process. He clearly carved out time to teach His disciples and others, but the majority of His training was not done in a classroom setting. Jesus spent most His time making disciples experientially. It is likely that Jesus’ disciples “caught” as much from what He did as much as they did from anything He said.
Teaching in a classroom is only about 25% of the total disciple making process.
Finally, Christian education is mostly about completing a course and true disciple making is about reproducing what you “are”! Christian education often comes with the idea of finishing a study or a course. Disciple Making is more about being equipped to repeat what you have experienced. Christian education might very well end when the class is over, but disciple making is just beginning when a disciple has been equipped to make another disciple.
At the end of Jesus’ time with His disciples, He did not say, “class dismissed.” He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Those are two very different things. Disciple makers should always be working toward reproducing more disciples.
I am not advocating for less education for Christians, but I am banging the drum loudly for more multiplication. The only way we have a chance of reaching the world is to multiply disciples. Addition will never get the job done, and if it continues, we will be a very well-educated movement of people who have a very limited impact on the world.
Impact Discipleship Ministries exists to inspire people and churches to be and build disciples of Jesus Christ. We “bang the drum” for disciple making movements. If we can help you learn what it means to be a disciple making church, please contact us and let us know how we can help you. impactdisciples.com