I recently attended the Disciple Makers Forum in Nashville, TN. The conference was good, and the organizations that were represented were top-notch.
I have strong opinions on disciple-making, and I went in with a critical eye of what to expect from these organizations. Thankfully, they didn’t disappoint. We spent hours talking about what disciple-making looks like in the local church, and it was intriguing to hear people discuss a call back to authentic community. One of the major themes this year is that people wanted to be connected in deeply personal relationships.
Sounds a little funny, doesn’t it? A call back to authentic community. Why did the church ever leave it? That’s probably a post for another day, but the conference dialed in on the fact people in the world today want to be in relationships that mean something. They need to have a purpose, and they need to have intentionality.
That’s the difference between disciple-making and everything else – purpose and intentionality.
I walked away from that conference realizing some things about the church, and my heart for making disciples moving forward.
I realized is that there is a big difference between a small group and a disciple-making group. Back to that intentionality thing – if you are a disciple maker then you are helping form someone who can make more disciples.
The reproductive part of disciple-making is key. If the small group is meeting, and no one in the group could go out and make more disciples then all you really have is just a great group. Nothing wrong with that, but it is important to distinguish the difference.
In our community, we define disciple-making as, “The process of walking alongside someone in their journey of faith, it is rooted in Scripture, and it must be multiplied.”
Most church small groups aren’t multiplied, and as a result, they fall under discipleship, but not disciple-making. Discipleship is anytime we teach someone to follow Jesus, disciple-making is when we teach that person to follow Jesus with the purpose & intentionality that they can go share that with someone else. Discipleship is an on-ramp to disciple-making, but the difference is key.
Bringing someone into a relationship with Jesus is an incredible gift, but stopping after that initial introduction is selling them short on the fullness of what Jesus has to offer. Making disciples will drastically transform your world because it offers us authentic relationships with the intentionality and purpose of pushing the other person (and ourselves) towards Jesus.
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus tells us to go and make disciples, but I often wonder how many of us forget to include that command in our discipleship. We teach people about the Bible, we teach them about Jesus’ life, but we never teach them this last command – disciples MUST make more disciples. I’ve become resolved that you aren’t a disciple unless you are making more disciples.
After leaving that conference I’m also convinced that the more people we can get committed to this type of thinking the better the church has a chance to remain relevant in people’s lives. Worship will always be great, outreach will always be great, but nothing has changed my life more than following Jesus & walking alongside people who are doing the same.
So there; now you get to wrestle with all the same thoughts that I have been wrestling with. IF you want to talk some more, email me firstname.lastname@example.org. We can talk through it, or if you are ready, I bet we can get you in a disciple-making relationship that just might change your life.