Here is the first of seven mission critical concepts leaders are re-thinking strategically to create a more robust disciplemaking + church multiplication culture.

Concept 1 – Discipleship:

What is your discipleship pathway?

Immediately when I asked this question to a youthful church staff regarding their list of “indicators” for a disciple – the notion of a  non-organic, results-oriented disciplemaking process was rebuffed. Over the next few minutes I attempted to logically explain the rationale behind my question. I earnestly explained my “why” observable behaviors are important for a growing disciple are essential – but lost that battle!

Whether you have a relationally driven, organic disciplemaking process or a highly structured approach, the point is, every disciplemaker has a process they follow. A deeper question is, what are the essentials of a growing disciple?

My conclusion is that a discipleship pathway that leads to a disciplemaking movement embraces the following missional behaviors:

Grounded in Biblical principles

  • You can have disciples of all kinds, such as, religious, philosophical schools of thought, diets, etc. For apprentices of Jesus the Scriptures are the moral compass we follow.
  • Key Insight: Stay true to the Word of God.

Clear understanding of what a growing, reproducing disciple does

  • I like Covey’s Habit #2: “Keeping the End in Mind”.  The principle holds true to making disciples.  A framework with the essential outcomes, like the Making Disciples Storyboard, is helpful to keep the end in mind.
  • Key Insight: set boundaries for disciplemaking relationships, then stay within those.

Values relationship(s)

  • Some leaders gravitate towards 1-1 vs. others leaders who think 2-3 OR some leaders think small group vs. missional community.  Crosspoint Community Church is the local church I attend with my wife, Gina where we lead a small group of 15 apprentices of Jesus. Our church consistently has 85% or more of the adult church attenders in small groups which is one of the strategic focuses of our disciplemaking process.
  • Key Insight: Relationship(s) trumps content.

Takes a coach approach

  • I write a lot about this. Essentially, taking a coach approach is anchored in the ability of the disciples to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit and the disciplemaker helps the disciple draw out new insights by listing and asking questions.  See 5 Shifts to be a Great Coach blog.
  • Key Insight: Listening & asking questions help disciples go further, faster.

Revolves around transferable concepts

  • I remember a conversation I had with my mom when I was first starting out in ministry. She was an amazing leader who discipled many people, families and groups over her lifetime – that are still making disciples to this day. However, to my knowledge she never completed the 1-1 discipleship program our church (which is a great church) had introduced. In my niavete, I had a conversation with mom to critique the way she had made disciples over her lifetime to help her see “the enlightened path” I was following. Needless to say, she did the program and I am sure benefitted – to a degree. To this day, I regret having this conversation with my mom who is one of the most influential disciplemakers I have ever known.
  • Key Insight: transferable concepts have the potential of reproducing disciples into the 3rd-4th generation.

Take a moment and reflect on your experience:

  1. What missional behaviors do you practice?
  2. What missional behaviors do you need to adopt?

Please continue the conversation and respond below….

There are seven mission critical concepts that you must grapple to create a robust culture of disciplemaking + church multiplication.  Each worthy of deep reflection, prayer and adept coaching.  I’ve listed these as “concepts” along with a key question.

Here they are:

Concept 1- Discipleship:

  • What is your discipleship pathway?

Concept 2 – Fruitfulness:

  • How do you measure fruitfulness?

Concept 3 – Ministry:

  • What is your definition of ministry?

Concept 4 – Church:

  • Describe what constitutes the local church?

Concept 5 – Time:

  • What can you do to move from expediency to significance?

Concept 6 – Gospel:

  • List your Gospel imperatives?

Concept 7 – Love:

  • How do you express your love of God?
  • Who is your neighbor?

You probably aren’t surprised by these.  On the other hand, you may have others you would add to the list.  Take a moment and reflect on your experience:

  1. What concepts are you rethinking?
  2. How are these changing your approach to disciplemaking + church multiplication?

Please continue the conversation and respond below….

Three statistics worth reviewing on the state of the mission of Jesus include:

  • Globally, the percentage of the world’s population that have become Christian remains about the same
  • Most churches stall-out after the first generation
  • Few churches plant churches

A natural question to ask is “why?” – “Why do disciplemaking + church planting movements stall out?” Here are 10 markers that you might have observed:

  1. Convoluted understanding of what is going on in the world – this goes beyond “vision”, it has more to do with a relevant approach to making disciples that results in disciples making disciples + new churches planting churches.
  2. Stories from the good ‘ol days – recent stories of disciplemaking + church planting are non-existent.
  3. Church decline – the current models of disciplemaking + church planting have attracted the low lying fruit and it is no longer an issue of “working harder & smarter!”
  4. Financial mismanagement – more and more money is going to “church consumer-like” expenditures in exchange for disciplemaking + church planting efforts.
  5. Relational disengagement – apprentices of Jesus have stopped gathering in small groups or the groups they are meeting in have lost a missional focus.
  6. Theological apathy – an underlying theological bias that over-shadows or dismisses the need for a Savior-Redeemer.
  7. Ego-driven leadership – more attention is garnered by the personality of the leader than the pursuit of genuine Kingdom fruit. 
  8. Celebrations cease – achievements are celebrated that have little to do with the Gospel of Jesus and the making of disciples.
  9. Faulty missiology – such as:
    • an “either-or” orientation to mission e.g. local OR global mission
    • an “either-or” orientation to growth e.g. church growth (quantitative) OR church health (qualitative)
    • an “either-or” orientation to outreach e.g. attractional OR missional
  10. Apostate teaching – Gospel-centric focus has been lost in the cultural distractions of secular thinking

This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list.  But it does capture some of the essential reason that stall-out disciplemaking + church planting movements, from my experience.  You probably have others that you would include in the list…

I’d love to read some of your views.

  • Does this match-up with your experience?
  • What’s missing?

Please continue the conversation below and feel free to share this with you friends.

Following are three observations “from the trenches” that are worth paying attention to if you have any interest, or concern over disciple-making movements.  This is real data extracted from reliable resources.  My goal is to clearly state the problem.

I hope you find the information helpful as we continue the mission of Jesus to make disciples…

Globally, the percentage of the world’s population that have become Christian is about the same today as it was 100 years ago

  • Approximately 32% of the global population was Christian in 1910 vs. 35% in 2010. The research also shows there has been a shift regionally, which is interesting to note; lower percentage of Christians in Europe and the Americas vs. an increase in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia Pacific, while the Middle East-North Africa has remained about the same – see Global Christianity – A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian by The Pew Research Center.

Most churches stall-out after the first generation

Few churches plant churches

  • Most disconcerting is that of the new churches planted in 2012; only 22% had started at least one daughter church within 5 years of existence – see Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow by Ed Stetzer & Daniel Im (p.14).
    • The 5-year window has been the “best practice” for a healthy church to plant a daughter church – see Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow by Ed Stetzer & Daniel Im (p.4).
    • Mac Lake suggest that only 4% of churches ever reproduce
  • Hirsch and Catchim tell us that the church in the US spends over $70 billion every decade on church plants and resources; but even so “we are experiencing decline in adherence and membership at an unprecedented rate” – see Beyond the Local Church by Sam Metcalf (p. 159).
  • This raises an important question: “With the heightened awareness of church planting as the most fruitful, God-given strategy to reach people far from Him, in combination with the resources (conferences, books and service) available; why aren’t churches able to make the shift missionally?”  See Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow by Ed Stetzer & Daniel Im.

Here is my attempt to state the problem of the church in the US today:

The current way we make disciples, do church & plant churches has attracted the low-lying fruit therefore,

we must introduce new ways to make disciples, do church & plant churches.

In the upcoming blogs I will reflect a bit more on these three statistics and identify the signs that lead to Movement Drift..  If it were easy, I believe we would have already figured it out with out human ingenuity.  I believe the solution lies not in our capacity to think through the solution but in our reliance on the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit first and foremost.

Please join me on the journey and participate in the conversation.