stop making disciples

10775396_sOne of my recent observations is that disciple making skills are leadership skills.

While there is nothing particularly new or novel about this observation, there is something significant about it. Namely, it clarifies what we are seeking to do:

We are not seeking to make disciples as much as we are seeking to reproduce disciple-making leaders.

Here are three reasons this distinction is important:

1. Leaders who make disciples accumulate followers; those who make disciple-making leaders help more people become followers of Jesus.

Like Paul, we continually point others away from us and to Christ: “So then, no more boasting about human leaders!” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:21

2. Leaders who make disciples unintentionally weaken social circles; those who make disciple-making leaders transform social circles.

Like Jesus, we immediately send people back into their social circle: “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” ~Mark 5:19

3. Leaders who make disciples model addition; those who make disciple-making leaders model multiplication.

Like Paul, we cast the vision of multiple generations of disciples: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:2

Self Assessment:

  1. Do the people you disciple tend to defer more to you or to Christ?
  2. Are you more inclined to form new groups of believers or make Christ the center of an existing circle?
  3. Do you tend to model addition or multiplication?

Share your thoughts and make it a conversation!

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4 thoughts on “stop making disciples

  1. I am disciplining one small group that consists of a husband, wife and their 3 year old daughter. They are from a Hindu background. When I started disciplemaking with this family initially, I noticed that they looked to me for most answers. And I have to admit that at times I allowed myself to lapse into the role of leader rather than facilitator of the group. I made this mistake during several DBS sessions. Then I became much more conscious and intentional in my efforts to redirect questions from me back to scripture. Since making this change I have noticed that the husband, who prior to about 4 months ago followed Hinduism, has begun reading the Bible more on his own. He has also begun engaging his sister and other family members in discussions about Jesus.

    I hope that this is the beginning of a broadening of existing circles with Jesus at the center.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Stephen, for taking the time to share what you are learning in the process of discipling this group!

      What stood out to me most are two things that happened when you re-directed focus away from yourself:

      1. People began discovering God in the word of God for themselves; they are learning to hear and recognize God’s voice.

      2. The leader of the group endorsed this spiritual discovery process, and began including others in the larger group who were not yet part of it.

      What other lessons do you (or other readers) see?

      Praying for a broadening of existing circles with Jesus at the center,


  2. What I have learned is that there are some who have an innate ability to become a leader and others do not, regardless of their growth as a disciple. I have seen mission organization shift their emphasis from “making disciples” to “making leaders”. I understand their intended desire and goals. The results of their efforts were not as expected. There were some, who were naturally inclined leaders that succeeded as spiritual leaders and in discipling of others that were also inclined to be leaders. But for the majority, they still could not lead. And worse, in the push to replicated and create leaders, many who were not true disciples were given roles in leadership because they did well at being leaders and the result was the implosion of the local churches where they served. These churches were plagued with on-going scandals because their leaders were taught how to lead others but were not disciples/followers of Christ.

    Not all are called to be leaders and not all are called to make or disciple others; there are many other ways people serve the body and for some, they are designed to be used in other ways to build the body. Those who have natural charisma are deemed as potential leaders regardless of the maturity they have in their faith in Jesus Christ.

    The evangelical church cycles though many different fads; the church-growth movement (and others) with its emphasis on “making leaders” appears to be another one of those fads. I want to see disciples learning and growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ and I want to see these same disciples (after maturing in their faith) make more disciples. It is a process that takes time and individuals progress at different rates. Rushing the process or attempting to make leaders of those who lack the gift is not helpful and in some situations, it can become dangerous.


    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and interact about the distinction I am making between making disciples and reproducing disciple-making leaders.

      As you wrote, there has been an over-emphasis and, I think, a misunderstanding of leadership in different parts of the evangelical church. Ruth Tucker does a great job of addressing this in her 2008 book, Leadership Reconsidered: Becoming a Person of Influence.

      If you have the time, I’d encourage you to see how I’m talking about leadership and developing these thoughts by reading my June 8 post on Intentional Influence. (If you have even more time, you could read through all 5 posts on The Disciple Making Leader.)

      Looking forward to more dialogue,


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