Many people have said — and I fully agree with the reality — that it’s very possible to plant a church and not make disciples of Jesus Christ. Many churches have been started as (primarily) a Sunday morning event and success is measured by how many people attend weekend services.
The same can be said of leading an established church. It is possible to pastor a church, even have a wonderful Sunday morning worship experience; engage the community in deeds of mercy; have a Nickelodeon type children’s ministry with live music and puppets; and still not be creating intentional paths for people “to hear the call of Jesus, respond to that call by repenting, believing his good news and following him in all that entails (“From S. Smallman, The Walk, p. 26).
No matter if you are planting a new church or pastoring an existing one, if you commit yourself to making disciples, you will grow a church. This must be the new metric we use in discerning if God is working. Are we involved in his call to make disciples?
I suspect that much of your disciple-making approach is being done by either (1) exactly following the method by which you were discipled (or by reaction against how you were discipled) or (2) you have no disciple-making intentionality whatsoever, perhaps because you have had no experience in any intentional approach.
Let’s assume you need to begin or continue the work of creating a discipleship process for your church. What do you do if you either don't have any experience or do not value what you had? You might, like many, default to a pre-programmed disciple-making course or you might continue to meet with a small group of guys to “talk about life.”
But, what if there could be a different way? Something with intentionality yet, not pre-packaged?
I understand that Jesus calls specific people with specific abilities, affinities, and aptitudes for specific ministry contexts. Not all contexts, cultures, or times are the same. But we can agree that God’s calling is God’s enabling, and his call is for you, as a leader, to be intentional in inviting others to turn away from their self-saving strategies, believe in Christ’s saving Strategy (the gospel), and follow after him, allowing him to conform them into their original design.
A Different Path to Develop a Process of Discipleship
Few churches completely abandon the idea of discipleship. We know the Great Commission, and the assumption that disciple-making will be at the forefront of who we are and what we do as a church. We don’t have to be convinced discipleship is important.
So, let’s go back to basics and re-imagine discipleship by asking three simple questions adapted from the book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek. The questions are WHY, HOW, and WHAT.
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At CMM, we believe every pastor, church planter, ministry leader, and missionary is created to thrive in ministry and deserves a Gospel coach. We suggest getting a CMM C.R.O.S.S. Gospel Coach to help walk with you through the challenges you’ve never faced before. You don’t have to lead alone. A CMM C.R.O.S.S. Coach will help encourage and equip you every step along the way.
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!