The number one question in most churches today is “How can we properly, adequately, and effectively make disciples?” If this isn’t your church’s number one question, you should probably shut down the church and go read Matthew 28:19-20 again.
This was the topic of Matt Chandler’s session at the Regional Acts 29 Conference I attended recently. In the next three posts, I will review what he said. It parallels exactly what I’ve been thinking for about a year now, which is why it was so exciting.
Today, I will simply introduce in broad brush strokes the two most common methods of making disciples in our churches today. Tomorrow, we will discuss the pros and cons of each, and on Friday, we will present a few ideas for how to take the pros from both approaches and incorporate them into the church while avoiding the cons.
Matt began by pointing out that there are two basic approaches to making disciples in churches today.
The first is relational discipleship (which he called “organic”), where the church encourages people to get together in some sort of home groups where they hang out, develop relationships, and just trust the Holy Spirit to work in their midst bringing them into the knowledge of the truth. They will often have some sort of “designated driver” to lead the group in a particular direction, but often the leader doesn’t really know how to get people “home” or what that “home” is.
This approach tends to generate lots and lots of numerical growth in a church, but very little deep spiritual growth.
Then there is the content-based model of discipleship, which Matt referred to as the “Mechanical-Linear” model. It will often have certain steps and classes that a person has to progress through on the “path” of discipleship. In this approach, discipleship is often equated with learning. There will be notebooks full of notes, classes that people can take, and different levels to aspire to.
This approach does not get the great numbers that the organic approach does, but does give a few people a lot of information and knowledge about the Bible and theology.
During my five years as a pastor, I adopted and leaned heavily upon the Mechanical-linear model. I even spent time in certain sermons and Bible studies to criticize and condemn the Organic model.
Now, three years out of pastoral ministry, and looking at heading back into it through church planting, I have been able to think, reflect, watch, and study these two models at work, and see numerous pros and cons to both.
Tomorrow, I will review the pros and cons of each model that Matt Chandler has seen.