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October 20, 2018

How a Commitment to Discipleship Multiplies Your Church

By Daniel Im

Churches that multiply understand that multiplication begins with discipleship. Discipleship cannot be an afterthought, or be relegated merely to a program for the devout and committed. Discipleship needs to be normalized in and throughout the life of the congregation, and it needs to be for everyone in the congregation: from the newcomer to the long-time member.

It’s About Making Disciples

Some churches become absorbed with technique and mistakenly conclude they are missional because of their increasing attendance. Their trendy techniques cause a rapid rise in attendance, giving them a false sense that what they’re doing is “working.” As a result, they may be more willing to throw discipleship out the window as a goal if that helps them retain more warm bodies in their services. That’s a compromise a biblical church won’t make. Ultimately, our goal is much more than creating a large attendance; it’s making disciples.

Starting with the newcomer, we found that churches who had an intentional plan to welcome newcomers via a new member’s class were more likely to start a daughter church within their first five years.

Today’s Seekers are Seeking Depth

Many church planters are afraid that by teaching theology they will be introducing subjects that won’t interest seekers, thus driving them away. However, both statistically and anecdotally, we’ve found that a church that correctly applies the concept of true discipleship will accomplish both goals: growth and depth. In fact, studies show that the higher the standards of biblical teaching, the longer people remain engaged. Today’s seekers are seeking depth. They won’t interrupt a fine Sunday morning of sleeping in to attend a church that serves up shallowness, at least not for long.

One-on-One Discipleship

Next, we found one-on-one discipleship to also be an effective tool to normalize discipleship throughout the life of a congregation. One-on- one discipleship is a proven tool to disciple new Christians and/or lukewarm Christians, since it’s highly reproducible. It’s also very effective since the disciple is led through a scope and sequence of curriculum, and the learning is personalized—so they can ask any question they like. Much like one-on-one discipleship, mentoring is also a great discipleship tool, which is often used to intentionally develop high capacity leaders. No wonder churches that offered either of these programs were more likely to start a daughter church within their first five years.

The Ability to Evangelize is One of the Most Important Things that a Christian Needs to Be Discipled In.

This is especially true for churches that want to reach the lost and multiply themselves, as we saw in the previous point. Now whether this training in evangelism takes place as a one-time workshop, ongoing class, or even in a one-on-one fashion, the fact is, the presence of this training is more important than the method or model. Among the churches we surveyed, we found that those who intentionally discipled and trained their people in evangelism had a higher likelihood to multiply themselves and start another daughter church within five years.

*This article is an excerpt from Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow that I wrote with Ed Stetzer. Download the e-book for free or purchase hard copies of this book here.



Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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