Churches do not multiply by external pressure. They multiply because they raise up disciples and disciple makers. Ralph Moore is the founder of the Hope Chapel Movement. They have planted in excess of 2,500 churches. When asked about multiplication and disciple making, Ralph describes it succinctly, “I think disciple making is 90 percent of church multiplication.” Moore’s track record and reasoning are difficult to dispute.




For far too long, the church has tried to make disciples using a one-size-fits-all approach. Some churches advocate 1-on-1 discipling, others try getting everyone into a small group, while still others do training through mission trips or service projects. Yet others focus all their efforts on attracting people to a large group gathering to hear biblical teaching and preaching. But does one size really fit everyone?

Thom Rainer says it well: “Christianity happens in relationships. They are the context in which meaningful spiritual growth takes place.” But which relationships are best suited for disciple making? has identified five key relationships where discipleship happens in our lives. In each relational context we need to understand how discipleship occurs and we need to set appropriate expectations for each context.

Based upon the research in the book, Discipleship That Fits, we can identify five key relationships in the life of Jesus, in the early church, and in healthy churches that are multiplying disciples today. Here is a summary of each of the five contexts.

Public Relationships: this context is typically Sunday gatherings with 100+ people. These large meetings have a component of disciple making and they can lead people into deeper disciple making environments.
Social Relationships: this context is typically a missional community. Disciple making is at the heart of these communities. It is an environment that is big enough to DARE (to serve those in need), yet small enough to CARE (for the people in it).
Personal Relationships: this is typically a small group. Jesus modeled many things with his 12 disciples in this size of group. It is an ideal size to get to know people and personally help them to follow Jesus.
Transparent Relationships: this is the most intimate of all personal discipling relationships. Jesus modeled it with Peter, James, and John. It is the ideal environment for same gender groups, accountability, and life change.
The Divine Relationship: this is where Jesus walked with God. This is displayed with Jesus’ times of fasting, solitude, prayer, etc. Jesus’ life is a model for our life.

You can download a FREE summary of the book at To help leaders see the connection between multiplication and the five contexts of disciple making, is also hosting an Exponential Conference pre-conference forum focused on discipleship in Southern California, October 3rd and 4th (just before their National Forum in Nashville, October 6th and 7th).

Join Bobby Harrington (, Alex Absalom (Dandelion Resourcing), Dann Spader (SonLife Ministries and Global Youth Initiative), Shelly Juskiewicz (Mariners Church and Rooted) and Brandon Grant (Church Planter) as they look at how Jesus made disciples and how disciples were formed in the early church. They will focus on how to apply these insights today. Go to to register.

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