What does a disciple-making church look like?
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.”Luke 10:1-2
Six months after Jesus sent out the Twelve two by two (Mark 6:7) on a disciple-making mission, He sent out seventy-two others with the same mission. Their mission was to cover the map with the gospel message and disciple-making impact.
As we entered 2020, Sonlife cast a vision for MISSION 72. Similar to Jesus’ original intent for the seventy-two to cover the map with disciple-making impact in every town and place, similarly it is our vision to cover the map of North America with disciple-making impact over the next five years.
When Dann Spader, our Founder, asked me to step in as Sonlife’s Executive Director seven years ago, he asked me, “What’s the vision God has given you for Sonlife?” My reply was immediate and instinctual. I want to see Sonlife be a part of transforming the culture of ministry in North America, restoring it to the disciple-making heart of Jesus.
To truly see the culture of ministry transformed across North America, we need to cover the map with a vision for making disciples as Jesus did. We’ve defined covering the map in our context as having a ministry that’s modeling and multiplying disciple-making in all 50 US states, all 10 Canadian provinces, and 12 Caribbean nations. Seventy-two distinct areas.
At the beginning of October, I was in Haiti at Open Door Ministries disciple-making training center, equipping young leaders with Jesus’ strategy for making and multiplying disciples. Over the past twelve years, Open Door Church has leveraged this training center to raise up disciple-making leaders who are planting disciple-making churches. One such young leader is a man named Odimon, who came to the training center 8 years ago as a twenty year old from a remote village on top of a mountain.The village of Maguayave is home to 1000 people, but had no church. Odimon is now pastoring a church there that has reached 400 people with the message of the gospel. The church has planted two other churches, and continues to send young leaders like Odimon to Open Door’s disciple-making training center. Open Door Church in Haiti is a ministry that is modeling and multiplying disciple-making.
A few weeks ago, I was in Central Arkansas equipping a church that’s hungry to model and multiply disciple-making throughout their region and their denomination. Connect Church invited me in to consult with their staff on Friday, train 4 Chair Discipling on Saturday, and preach on the priority of disciple-making on Sunday. As Pastor Blaine Rogers preaches through the 4 Chairs on Sunday mornings, Connect Church will have their entire church going through our 40 Days of Disciple-Making Journal. Having all their leaders and their people take the 4 Chair Discipling Inventory was eye-opening and pushed them to recognize the work that needs to be done to truly become a church that models and multiplies disciple-making.
When we talk about a ministry modeling disciple-making, what do we mean? Are we looking for the “perfect church?” No. As you’re well aware, there are no perfect churches. So then what does it mean in our context for a church to model disciple-making?
There are four simple ways we identify a church that models disciple-making.
- The Pastor/Leader personally models disciple-making. They are reaching and discipling lost people outside the context of their Sunday morning preaching. In this, they are modeling a disciple-making lifestyle for their people.
- The Leadership Team has bought into a philosophy of relational disciple-making as the vision for the church. The Leadership Team is on the same page and moving forward together toward becoming a disciple-making model.
- Every Program and Activity is evaluated for its purposefulness and effectiveness in providing an environment for relational disciple-making and how it serves to reinforce the church’s disciple-making vision. The disciple-making pathway is clear and simple, helping people move from being spiritually lost, to believer, to worker, to disciple-maker.
- The Church is experiencing disciple-making fruit. They are growing because their people are actively engaged in the disciple-making process. They are experiencing conversion growth rather than mere transfer growth, meaning people are finding Christ and learning to follow Him through the fulfillment of the church’s disciple-making vision.
A helpful tool to identify where your ministry is at in the process of moving toward a disciple-making model is our 5 Phase Assessment.
When we talk about a church that is multiplying disciple-making, what do we mean? Again, we’re not talking about a “perfect church” that everyone wants to be like. Many mega-churches have leadership conferences, and pastors flock to them hoping to learn how they too can become a mega-church. We’re looking for ordinary churches that point to Jesus as their model and are generous in sharing what they are learning with others.
There are four simple ways we are identifying churches that multiply disciple-making.
- They are living out a model worth multiplying (see above).
- Their missions budget and missions activities are a reflection of their disciple-making priorities.
- They are leveraging their influence within their area, region, and denomination to impart disciple-making vision and values. Their leadership is hosting Sonlife training to expose other ministry leaders to disciple-making. They are facilitating Disciple-Making Cohorts to coach other ministry leaders in what they have learned. They are “tithing” a portion of their time to multiplying disciple-making outside their local church context.
- They are partnering with Sonlife to multiply disciple-making into other MISSION 72 areas, helping to cover the map of North America with churches that are modeling the disciple-making heart of Jesus. Partnering might mean putting Sonlife in their missions budget to expand our reach into urban, Native American, and other diverse contexts. Partnering with Sonlife might mean adopting a Caribbean Island and sending teams to help multiply disciple-making throughout all of North America.
In 2021, we will be hosting regional MISSION 72 events to help model and multiply disciple-making across North America. The first three of these six M72 events are on the calendar for St. Augustine, FL, Dallas, TX and Baltimore, MD. We’re also looking at three more M72 events for the Fall of 2021 in Toronto, ON, Chicago, IL and Portland, OR.
MODEL: It’s our desire that each of these two-day events be hosted by a church that is modeling disciple-making, allowing the leaders who come to interact with a leadership team that has been working through the process of developing a disciple-making model.
MULTIPLY: At each of these M72 events, we will be multiplying disciple-making by launching Disciple-Making Cohorts out of the event, as well as offering follow-up training and Coaching Clinics that will be regionally based. Also, each M72 event will have 1-3 ReVerb Multiplication Teams that launch from them.
Our first M72 event is fast approaching. Good News Church in St. Augustine, FL is excited to host this event that models and multiplies the disciple-making heart of Jesus on January 14-15, 2021. We hope to see you there!