It Can’t Just Be Talk

The other day someone was reminding me of the Discipleship material we have developed as a movement.  For those who didn’t know we had discipleship materials check out the website.  It’s all there.  They were commenting on how helpful the Pathway Diagram (the tree and the four mileposts) has been for them as they think about Disciple Making in their local context.  And they mentioned they will have to order more of the “Pathway” cards.  Great.

A denominational leader from another movement sat with me and gave me the latest material from SonLife (you are an old youth pastor if you remember that name).  It was called Four Chair Discipleship and he was talking about how helpful it has been.  Great.

I could go on with all of these examples.  People talking about Greg Ogden’s Leadership Essentials material as a tool for working with emerging leaders.  Pastor’s raving about 3DM and how helpful their material is helping folks feel confident in working with other people.  It seems everywhere I turn folks are talking about some book or program or model that is the next great discipleship tool. And I don’t doubt any of it.

There are many great tools and ways of thinking about and approaching this whole area of making disciples.  I am not here to throw shade on any of that.  Nor am I here to cast doubt on the folks who are making these recommendations.  I am sure they are using these materials and it is helping.


There is so much talk about discipleship and how important it is and how we all need to be engaged and so on.  And it is important.  It’s the thing Jesus told His followers to be about.  And we do all need to be engaged in discipleship.  And by that I mean all of us need to be discipled.  We need to find one or two folks who will help us grow in our relationship with Our Father.  And all of us need to be diciplers.  We need to be walking alongside one or two other folks who need some help as they grow in their relationship with Our Father as well.  And we probably should be walking alongside folks who are already part of the family as well as walking alongside folks who aren’t yet part of the family.  I agree with all of that.

My concern is this – I think we are in danger of talking more about discipleship than actually making disciples.  And that needs to change.  Here is what I base that opinion on.  In the latest Church Health survey (completed by leaders in all our churches) our lowest scores as a movement were around the question of whether or not our churches had an intentional, ongoing disciple making process.  We need to pay attention to this.  Beyond that, churches who take our Discipleship Survey find (without exception) that their low scores are around things like faith sharing, spiritual friendships and mentorships and sharing their lives with others.  All parts of disciple making.  We need to pay attention to this.

All this talk about discipleship is fine.  But Jesus didn’t ask us to talk about making disciples.  He called on us to do it.  No exceptions.  So read the rest of this issue and get ideas.  But then implement them in your church and in your life.  This is our call.






Marc McAlister
Director of Leadership Development