Dallas Willard once said, “Every church ought to ask two questions. What is our plan for making disciples, and is that plan working?” The reality is, very few leaders are asking those questions.
Church leaders are not failing to ask those important questions because they are bad leaders and don’t care. Leaders are not asking those questions because they have never been taught that the mission of the Church is to fulfill the Great Commission. Many church leaders have simply not been taught the importance of making disciples.
If you eventually get around to asking Willard’s questions about disciple making and you come up with answers you don’t like, here are some steps you might consider taking.
First, define what it looks like when a disciple has been made! Think about it. What good is it to have a plan for making disciples if you don’t know what kind of disciples you are seeking to make. Jesus has actually defined it for you already. He said in Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone that is fully trained will be like his teacher.” When you make disciples of Christ, you make disciples who have the character and conduct of Christ. That is your bull’s eye!
Secondly, determine a strategy that will help you lead untrained seekers to become fully trained disciples! Disciples are not made automatically. A person does not become a fully trained disciple by accident or by coincidence. Even Jesus had a strategic and intentional process He used to help build fully trained disciples. Jesus invited people to take simple steps of growth and development that eventually produced fully trained, world-changing disciples. That same process works today! In John 20:21 Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” This statement is incredibly freeing. It tells us that we do not have to figure out a strategy for making disciples. All we need to do is the same thing Jesus did. Our job is to execute the same strategy Jesus used.
Third, design environments where disciples can be made! Jesus used a small group environment as the primary environment for developing fully trained disciples. Jesus also used large groups, ministry experiences, and one-on-one encounters, but the small group was ground zero for disciple making. Mark 3:14 tells us the following about Jesus: “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” Jesus chose to lead a small group of twelve that would in turn lead others after they had been trained. To this day, the small group is still hands down the best environment for building disciples of Christ.
Finally, develop leaders who will lead the environments, work the strategy, and that hit the target of disciple making! Jesus’ disciples became His leadership team for His Church. This reminds us that the best leadership always come out of discipleship. When you appoint a leader from those you have discipled, you know exactly what kind of leader you are getting. Jesus said in Matthew 9:38, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send our workers into his harvest field.” Jesus develop leaders out of the harvest. He did not get them from another church. If you are consistently making disciples, you will never run short on leaders.
At Impact Discipleship Ministries, we seek to help churches develop an effective plan for making disciples. We provide resources, training, and consulting to help churches fulfill the mission of Jesus. If you are interested in more information of hosting a Disciple Making Church Seminar, check out our informational page or contact us if you have questions.