I heard this statement a while ago. I’m not certain, but I believe it is attributed to Neil Cole.

“What you win them with is what you win them to.”

What does this statement mean?

In the previous 3 blogs I suggested there are two primary church planting models on the landscape today: the prevailing church and micro-church. For the sake of comparison, these are at opposite ends of a continuum described as attractional (come and see) vs. missional (sent out). I can get a little “geeked-out” here, so my apologies in advance.

Let’s return to the question. How do you interpret this statement?

“What you win them with is what you win them to!

(I borrowed this infographic from another blog.)

It might be helpful if you view this as an objective analysis rather than a critique. My intent is not to portray one model superior to the other, but each distinct from the other.

Let’s begin with the prevailing church approach.

In its simplicity, this model is keenly focused on launching the corporate gathering, in many cases using small groups to assimilate people. When done with intention, the small groups continue the disciple making process. The other opportunity that this approach offers is service. This type of service is church-centric, at least in the beginning (aka “set-up and tear-down”). It’s a great way for people to use their gifts and abilities. When done well, these environments can form the basis for a disciple-making culture.

What you win them with is what you win them to!” The priority with this model is attracting people to a large group gathering. When done with excellence, people will come. Case in point: I am involved in the launch of The Refinery Church which was highlighted in our recent blog on the prevailing-model church. The planters, Casey and Aimee Graces, have been working through the launch process and one of the steps was a series of practice services. As a member of the Welcome Team I was observing a woman walking by the elementary school where we rent space. She cautiously approached one of the members of our team and began to ask questions about the church: how long it had been meeting, service time, childrens’ programs, etc. She then paused and began to share that it has been a long time since she had been in church. The next thing I observed were tears streaming down her face. We escorted her into the auditorium and that morning she received Christ. The presence of a new church in her community was new and attractive. She returned the next week with her daughter. That is one reason why church planting is so powerful in the disciple making process. The corporate gathering was attractive and instrumental in helping this person take the next step on her spiritual journey.

The tendency I’ve observed this time and time again with planters using this approach is that because of the rush (emotionally and practically speaking) to get the corporate gathering dialed-in and launched, disciple-making environments like small groups tend to come later. A common problem that arises is that the energy and human resources required to keep the corporate gathering running can detract from developing disciple-making communities. At some point, the church planter needs to back-fill and could be setting themselves up for, in many cases, a re-launch.

The micro-church approach creates a different dynamic.

The starting point is with every-day Christians engaging with people in their neighborhood, place of work, or community as they “do life” (shopping, sports, or school, for example). Once they have relational trust, the planter begins to gather in various locations where people most naturally come together. Whether in homes, parks, or offices, these groups form the nucleus of the disciple-making DNA.

What you win them with is what you win them to! The priority is establishing relationships as you go about your daily activities and engage with people on their disciple-making journey. If and when it is appropriate, you invite them into a small group gathering. This is a powerful church-planting strategy for people to take the next steps on their spiritual journey because of the strong sense of belonging that small groups can cultivate.  This is how One City Fishtown has seen God at work through their micro-church strategy.

For example, one evening as Shaun was walking, he approached his neighbor simply to say hello. When Shaun asked him how he was doing, he confided in him that his partner of 17 years had randomly left him with no warning. Feeling broken and confused, he asked Shaun to let him know when One City would be having a prayer night so that he could join. It was in this moment the Solidays realized their presence in the neighborhood was beginning to establish trust and build bonds among the people living right in their midst.

The tendency with small gatherings is that people can become inward focused. It is a natural phenomenon: when a group of people gather, it is natural to allow the comfort that the group achieves to drive the group so the focus becomes the needs of the individuals in the group to the exclusion of outsiders. Like the prevailing church model, the mission to make more and better disciples must be held high to remind people again and again why they exist.

So how do you interpret this statement: “What you win them with is what you win them to”?

Both of the interviews we shared for the prevailing church and the micro church models face the same challenge: holding the banner “make more and better disciples” high and above the other agendas that groups, large and small, fall prey to. The challenge: keep the main thing the main thing!

Questions for your Reflection

  1. What do you resonate with from these two models?
  2. What is confusing?
  3. How are you keeping disciple making the main thing?
  4. How would you describe your philosophy of ministry?
  5. What can you do to develop and maximize your strategy?
  6. Who do you need that can help you make those changes?
  7. What is your next step(s)?



October 17 is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Our 5 Discipleship Coach Habits Webinar is finally launching! After putting a lot of time and effort into creating this training approach to disciple making, we are so excited to finally begin this journey with anyone who feels ready to take the next step in their discipleship coaching. The cohort launches on October 17, 2022 from 10am-3pmPST.




Photo by Akira Hojo on Unsplash


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