One of the most common questions I receive is whether organized or organic disciple making works the best. Let me answer that by saying any system or plan that takes untrained people and helps them become fully trained, multiplying disciples is a plan that you should use. I don’t care what you call it or how it works if people are becoming more like Jesus and multiplying more disciples that look like Jesus. Keep doing what you are doing!
Now, back to the original question. How you define the terms “organized” and “organic” have a lot to do with the answer. If by “organized” you mean a program that people complete while jumping through hoops, I might have a problem with that. Jesus was organized, but He didn’t make disciples like a machine. Jesus was very relational in the way He went about making disciples.
If the word “organic” means freewheeling and structureless, I would probably have some issues with that as well. Jesus used some organic approaches to His disciple making, but He also had an intentionality about the process. Jesus wasn’t going free style with His disciples and hoping they would catch on. Jesus had an intentional strategy for the relationships He invested in.
So now you have my answer. I believe the best approach to disciple making is to be relational and intentional. Disciple making is always about people. Cookie-cutter discipleship is never the goal or the right approach. Disciple making is also clearly about helping people become something they are not already. There is purpose behind disciple making, and that purpose it to reach the nations for Christ. A movement of multiplying disciples is the very best chance we have of putting a serious dent in the lost population.
Years ago, our church was doing a pretty good job at getting men into a discipleship environment. At one point, we had several hundred men in groups that were organized around a certain curriculum and met at certain times. We eventually made the decision to “decentralize” our men’s discipleship groups. It didn’t work!
When these men started meeting whenever and wherever, we started to lose momentum in our disciple making. Looking back, I like to think of it like a river. A river gets its flow by having a source and having banks. If you remove the banks, you end up with a flood, and floods are not fun. Floods are stagnate and they stink. We realized that when we decentralized our men’s discipleship groups, we in essence removed the banks. We lost momentum and could no longer keep the flow going.
Recently, we started back with some early morning men’s groups. It started about four years ago with me and one other guy. Currently, we have between 50 and 60 men showing up every week at 7:00 in the morning for spiritual growth. We rebuilt our banks. We have momentum once again.
At Impact Ministries, we exist to help you create movements of multiplying disciples. If your church is interested in learning how that can happen, contact us at impactdisciples.com and we can help you start a Discipleship Challenge at your church.