I have a theory. Our discipleship challenge isn’t methodological–it’s missiological.
I have the privilege of speaking to church planters every day. I listen to how God has worked in their lives; how they’ve been obedient to the call to plant churches in their city or region. I listen to their plans, their dream and their hopes. Hearing all of this never fails to inspire me.
I also listen to them talk about their desire to make disciples. This is good news of course. We ought to be thinking about making disciples, especially if you’re planting a church.
Why? Jesus told us to do it.
Matthew 28 16-20: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
But it’s not long before these planters begin lamenting that their discipleship models aren’t working. They tell me that people aren’t growing nor responding…that people just aren’t getting it. People aren’t reproducing and they aren’t making more disciples. They get frustrated. Some quit.
So much of our disciple making conversation comes down to this…
- What’s the right model?
- Who’s doing it well?
- Where can I get the best training?
- What’s the best system for this?
These are great questions of course. Church planters have a bias toward action and God love them for it. They want to get in the game with a plan and make things happen.
But they aren’t the right questions.
This perceived ‘challenge of discipleship’ isn’t really a challenge at all. Our discipleship challenge isn’t methodological–it’s missiological. I am convinced the best (and only ‘method’) for creating disciples is to help people find their mission and then give them permission and encouragement to do it.
Want to create disciples in your church, plant more churches. Seriously.
Discipleship happens in the context of mission. If you’re not giving people a mission (and I mean a real mission) then don’t expect them to grow as disciples. And you had better not even think about having them make more disciples.
The best way to make disciples is to help people find their mission.