This is the final post in a series on Christian or Church Clichés. Church Clichés are half-truths that are commonly accepted in many Christian churches these half-truths have an overarching impact that often can cause churches to never really get down to business in the work of Jesus.
Introduction Post Here:
Podcast on this subject:
Disciplemaking is often held at an arms distance at churches. It is mentioned from time to time, it is even incorporated into many churches mission statement yet if you list out the actions of this or that church you’ll find almost nothing goes into the real work of making disciples. One reason for this is there is a common idea that disciplemaking takes too much time and effort and doesn’t produce results. Mass gatherings that draw in large groups of people are far more attractive and really make it seem like you are doing something! One example we have seen again and again with missionary friends or students going on short term missions is the sharp contrast of reading a discipler’s vs a traditional short-term mission prayer report. The discipler will talk through their whole letter about meeting with a couple of people, about significant discussions or signs that seem like progress. The traditional short-term mission trip report sounds much more exciting though! Gathered 20 non-believers for a Christmas event rings of success much more than the disciplers report and people will give and support where they see “success”.
Secondly the goal is often misunderstood. Today, many churches seek decisions for Christ rather than men and women devoted to Jesus and growing in relationship with Him.
While that discipler consitantly meeting with a few may seem much less significant than the missionary who is gathering large groups or the evangelist who is reguarlly winning souls what do the numbers say?
WDA has broken down the numbers that give a clear picture of the difference. Will give numbers based on their Ministry Multiplication Chart:
If an evangelist is winning one person a week to Christ. Now this is significant progress, bringing one person to a place of entering into a relationship with Jesus a week they will be seeing about 53 people saved a year. Now for the discipler if they lead two people to Christ and follow them up to maturity over some years, say after three years. By year three the discipler has three people who have come to Christ as a result of her faithfully pursuing Jesus. Remember the evangelist? He has led 157 people to Christ!
As we go through the years with the discipler though the picture begins to change. Year 6 the 4 becomes 16, year 9 the 16 become 64, down the road in year 24 there are over 65,000 followers of Jesus! How is the evangelist doing? 1249 converts, which is nothing to be ashamed of but WOW the impact of discipleship just jumps as people are really going deep and acting on the faith they are being built up in step by step. Further the 65,000 here are not just in name Christians. These are winning others to the faith, who are going deep with Jesus based on the example of the person who has walked with them and discipled them.
In Reality though…
At this point some seasoned pastors will say, “but it never works that way!” and true enough there are a number of people out there who feel disillusioned because they feel they tried multiplying ministry but the multiplication effect never got off the ground. There are a number of common issues that lead to this:
- Not focused on bringing others to maturity.
When discipleship just becomes meeting and sharing with people the effect will not continue. Discipleship is bringing others to maturity and it requires focused planning and loving effort that is continual and evaluating. If you just casually stir a pot with only one or two ingredients, you’ll never get a soup! In the same way disciplemaking requires planning, thought and continual forward effort toward the goal
2. Passion without a plan
Secondly, often times there is a lot of passion “this is Jesus way!” but no real planning process in the first place. This is where a lot of the clichés previously covered come in and people just resort to saying “let the Spirit do the work”. Not only is this not a God honoring response when it comes to discipleship it is fatal to the disciplers hopes of multiplying.
3. Not mentally prepared
Lastly, people go in without counting the cost. They expect to see big results fast and when they don’t see much at all at first, they go after something else.
Multiplication as a Method is Important
So why take the risk if its possible that you may not succeed at first and without some real hard work?
- Depth Produces Depth
One important thing to note is that depth tends to produce depth and shallow simple thinking tends to also reproduce itself. To grasp this think about any movement in history and how the leader presented themselves, that movement often likely tended to not go much further than the thinking of that leader. However, think of someone like Socrates who taught Plato who then trained Aristotle and from these three we have much of the deep thoughts in historic Philosophy.
- Its Biblical
As I hope we have shown through these series multiplication was Jesus’ method and it was the method of Christians throughout the early Church. Jesus spent most of His time going deep with the 12 and even more time with Peter, James and John. Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim 2:2 to take the things he had learned from Paul and to pass them on to others who will also be able to continue to pass them on.
Impact of Disciplemaking
The real impact disciplemaking can have is on a personal level we will go DEEPER and make going deeper the pattern of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. So many Christians feel stuck and wish they could grow but don’t know how. Disciplemaking closes the gap here by providing the everyday Christian with training to follow Jesus deeply. Secondly, we will reach more this way. Discplemaking is God’s plan for reaching the world and if we do the mission in God’s way the impact will be the kind of impact God intended reaching the world by creating communities of deep Christians that are won to Christ and go out to new places and communities to bring Christ there and reproduce in like kind. Finally, disciplemaking is the key to Christians being salt and light. The thing our nation and every nation needs today is not just good leaders, much more than that we need people that are the sort of salt and light Jesus came to produce.