Reaching a Disciple-Making Tipping Point
What we’ve found by talking to pastors and ministry leaders around the country through The Bonhoeffer Project is that church leaders are not refusing to make disciples, they’re just unsure of how to make disciples—there’s a huge difference between the two. Blatant disobedience is a black hole that leads to nowhere, but when leaders simply lack experience, they can be trained up and unleashed. We’re seeing a lot of the latter—pastors and ministry leaders who need training up and unleashing. This has the potential to create disciple-making movements in their churches and communities, and it’s exciting. When we say “disciple-making movement,” we simply mean any tribe of Jesus followers who join together as force multipliers for the advancement of the kingdom of God throughout the world by making disciples.
This is an excerpt from The Discipleship Gospel (available in eBook and paperback). Get a discount by using code ‘TBP’ at checkout when you order here.
When church members start sharing stories of how they’re witnessing the power of God in discipleship relationships, it can become a tipping point for them as their church seeks to become a disciple-making community. That’s what we need to create a disciple-making movement in the local church. It’s one thing for the pastor to preach the discipleship gospel and personally make disciples, but it’s an entirely different and greater thing when church members begin sharing their discipleship stories with one another. This is a critical moment in the life of a church, a tipping point of sorts. As author and pastor David Platt has said, “The gospel spreads when every believer makes disciples.”
In some ways, a church member’s influence on another church member can be far more potent than the pastor’s influence. People expect pastors to talk about making disciples (or at least they should expect that). While church members might not say it, they think of discipleship as “the pastor’s job” or as “something the pastor should do.” They don’t, however, expect fellow members to be the great champions of discipleship in the church. But according to the teachings of Jesus, they must.
A number of churches are scattered around America that have reached this tipping point, and they’ve begun a disciple-making movement in their church. To manage the momentum of such a movement of multiplication, though, we need one more tool: a comprehensive discipleship strategy for the church. In their powerful book, T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution, authors and church leaders Steve Smith and Ying Kai state that every church should have “a comprehensive process of training believers to witness to the lost and form reproducing discipleship communities generation by generation.”
1. David Platt, Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013) xi.
2. Steve Smith with Ying Kai, T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution (Monument: WIGTake Resources, 2011) 44.