“In order to develop a framework, it is necessary to be clear about what you are trying to accomplish; what are the identifiable traits of loving God, loving others and making disciples? You need to start with the big picture.”

As You Go…Make Disciples by Colin Noyes

In March 2020, we launched our first Leadership Collective. The Leadership Collective facilitates a learning community of up to 15 church planters, pastors, and network leaders to assess and strengthen their leadership pipelines, beginning with the newest disciples of Jesus. After the two-day, in person event, the state of CA shut down! Little did we know then that the shutdown would last as long as it did.

What did we learn about disciple making through the Leadership Collective during the pandemic?

  1. The mission will always trump religion!
  2. The Gospel will thrive during times of adversity!
  3. The process of making disciples must be reproducible!

Let me briefly unpack each of these points:

The mission will always trump religion!

Sadly, Barna reported that 1 in 3 practicing Christians stopped attending church during the pandemic (July 2020). What does this statistic suggest? I’m not a statistician, but I believe that the last two years have done some necessary sifting. And, well, the results speak for themselves.

  • Church leaders that were making disciples before the pandemic were able to bear down on the mission.
  • Church leaders that weren’t making disciples were reminded what the mission is and made a quick pivot.

The Gospel will thrive during times of adversity!

You might be wondering what thriving looks like? Thriving (in this scenario) is the manner in which followers of Jesus choose to respond to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic. Some chose to remain open, curious, and committed to learning. Others chose to be closed, judgmental, and unwilling to learn. Those who chose the former are thriving and those who chose the latter – not so much.

  • Church leaders that had an intentional small group ministry with 80% or more of their adults in small groups survived, and some are thriving.
  • Church leaders tested new platforms for virtual ministry to expand their reach.
  • Church leaders that did not meet that threshold are playing catch up.

The process of making disciples must be reproducible

Leaders in the Leadership Collective were challenged to share their disciple-making cycle using a napkin, record their explanation, and enter the 3-minute video in a friendly competition. The idea was this: if you can illustrate your cycle on a napkin, it will probably be clear and simple enough to reproduce in other disciples.

This is what we discovered:

  • Church leaders with a reproducible process put more and more energy into making disciples that make disciples.
  • Church leaders that had a rough idea of their process further refined it to make it more transferable.


Where are you and your congregation? 

Below are a couple of resources that might help you assess your disciple-making process, begin coaching disciples, and replicate that process with other disciple makers.



This article was originally published in July 2021. It has since been revised.


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