Making Disciples or Doing Church?
by Steve Murrell
My friend, Mike Cantrell, invited me to speak to his church and campus ministry staff about the simplicity of discipleship. (Mike and team are great leaders, and Bethel-Clarksville is a strong, growing, exciting church!)
After telling a few d’ship stories, here’s what I told them yesterday:
1. PRINCIPLES NOT MODELS
Don’t copy a model that seems to be working somewhere else. Discover principles and apply them in your own culture and in your own community. What works somewhere else probably will not work for you.
2. PROCESS NOT EVENTS
Build a process that systematically moves people toward spiritual maturity, not a bunch of random disconnected church activities like foundation class, membership class, discipleship class, Bible school, leadership class, men/women/youth departments… These only have value when they are integrated as part of a process. Stand alone events, ministries and meetings become distractions when they are not part of an intentional strategic discipleship process.
3. CULTURE NOT METHODS
Disciple-making churches are fueled by a discipleship culture, not by a magic method. When the culture is right, any method will work. When the culture is toxic, even the best method will fail. Here’s the problem: changing methods is quick and easy (some leaders change methods monthly), but changing culture is hard work and takes years. Do the hard work and build a discipleship culture; don’t just import a discipleship method.
4. CONSISTENCY NOT CREATIVITY
Creativity is way overrated. I have found that if we just keep on doing the same thing long enough, it will eventually bear fruit. Most people quit or change too soon. Just when the ole “Good to Great flywheel” is about to start spinning, they dump it and get the latest idea-of-the-month. Consistency is always more powerful that the elusive “silver bullet.”
5. RELATIONSHIP NOT RELIGION
As my good friend, Joey Bonifacio, always says: “Discipleship is relationship” on three levels – relationship with Jesus, with unbelievers and with believers. If we keep the focus on relationships we will build a discipleship culture.
SUMMARY: Discipleship is so easy a fisherman can do it. But if we manufacture models, pack our calendars with disjointed events, import the latest methods, constantly change and act religious – then we will not make disciples.
What about you – are you making disciples or just doing church stuff?