Assess Your Disciple-Making Culture
Today we are having more conversations and producing more and better resources when it comes to disciple-making, but we are mostly getting the same results. Why? Because we don’t have a disciple-making problem, we have a disciple-making culture problem. The current operating system we are running in our churches are designed to provide religious services for religious people, and until we install a new system, we are going to see minimal results, no matter what the programming or strategy.
Zooming out and doing an assessment of our current culture around the five vital disciple-making questions is a significant first step. These questions include:
• What is our disciple-making mission?
• What are our disciple shaping values?
• What is our disciple-making strategy?
• What does a disciple look like in our context?
• What is our disciple-making dream?
Discover Your Disciple Making DNA
First, we must embrace the reality that we have one and only one mission, and that is to make disciples that make disciples. To replicate a culture of disciple-making, you have to drill down to the cellular level or what I’m referring to as disciple-making DNA.
The Venn diagram below illustrates three core elements that make up the disciple-making DNA of a church. It includes spiritual truth, life-on-life relationships, and missional engagement. Where you find a disciple-making operational system, you will always find these three elements in some form replicated throughout the entire church organization.
Establish Your Disciple Making Foundation
Here I am referring to our core belief rooted in a healthy Christology, missiology, and ecclesiology. I reframe these three core beliefs into three practical questions: What is the gospel? What is a disciple? And, What is a church? In doing so, I answer these question in the order I’ve listed them understanding that each one builds on the other. The Gospel Lens below illustrates their relationship with one another and how together they form a worldview lens. This is key because at a very core level disciple-making is about worldview conversion. It’s about taking a mind that is rooted in some other core ideology such as humanism or some different western or eastern worldview and through a process of sanctification seeing it transformed into the “mind of Christ” or a gospel-centered worldview.
Develop Your Disciple Making Strategy
Creating a disciple-making culture involves knowing your disciple-making culture at the system level. If you zoom out, there are five systems you need to consider. While each of our terminologies might be more reflective of our unique process, the five areas will be reasonably consistent. I use the following phrases to describe each of these five systems and to conduct training at the field area they include: Entering, Planting, Making, Forming, and Reproducing.
Build Your Disciple-Making Pathway or Pipeline
Disciples are at different points along the pathway of maturity that requires a very intentional and specific response for each one. This pathway at its most general state might include pre-disciples, new disciples, growing disciples, multiplying disciples, and catalytic disciples.
At each of these milestones along the journey, it requires unique character, competencies, relationships, and levels of missional engagement to advance to the next.
Determine Your Disciple Making Dream
Ultimately, we must ask “Where is God taking us?’ Someone suggested that everything is created twice, first in the heart and then in reality. For developing this disciple-making dream, we use a tool developed by Will Mancini called the Horizon Storyline. It’s not enough to have a culture of disciple-making, but if we want to turbocharge our efforts, we need a strategic and tactical plan. The Horizon Storyline consists of four-time horizons we refer to as the “1414”. The drawing below illustrates it. These visionary tools assist us in answering four-time sensitive question: 1) What is a 5 to 10-year disciple-making dream? 2) What are the four big rocks we must address over the next three years? 3) What is the one thing we must focus on over the next year? And 4) What are the four 90-Day Initiatives we must accomplish to achieve our one-year milestone?
Installing a disciple-making operational system is a marathon, not a sprint. Perhaps this is why many choose to implement change at the service or programming level with no real lasting change. You can start a journey today by scheduling a free 30 minutes phone call!
David Putman is the founder of Planting the Gospel and a Senior Lead Navigator with Auxano the category leader in vision clarity. When David isn't writing or consulting he enjoys staying fit and competing at Crossfit.