I recently spent a week in San Diego, where we partnered with Exponential (church multiplication network) in training church planters and denominational leaders.
My friend Ralph Moore shared some really helpful material on disciple making, and I want to share it with you this week.
Ralph is the founder of the Hope Chapel movement, which started in Southern California in the 1970s (as part of the ‘Jesus Movement’) and then spread to Hawaii. When Ralph first moved to Hawaii, the percentage of people claiming to be Christians was less than 10%. But God created a revival movement through people like Ralph, Wayne Cordeiro, and many others. Now around 68% claim to be Christians and every school in the state is packed with churches. The Hope Chapel itself has multiplied into over 2,400 churches around the world.
In this post Ralph shares a key element of their disciple-making focus.
Disciple Making That Reproduces (post by Ralph Moore)
5 Questions About Your Disciple-Making Model
I hope you’re making disciples…
If you are, you should be able to name your three closest disciples without even thinking about it. If you can’t do this, you probably need to re-read Jesus words in Matthew 28.
If you make disciples, is this a private project or systematically integral to your church family?
If you lead a church, is disciple making the central organizing principle or an add-on?
These are important questions that we need to ask ourselves from time-to-time over a tenure of ministry. Reason? It’s easy to start well and hard to finish well.
Making disciples is certainly central to any hopes of multiplying the church—more so it is key to any hope of evangelizing nations or shaping your culture. Yet, many pastors I meet inform me that they are too busy to do the third most important thing Jesus commanded after loving God and loving our neighbors. In fact, lead pastors can be the single greatest obstacle to a disciple-making network in a local church—we do lead by example, like it or not.
I think, talk and even dream about disciple making every day. In my last church I aimed to build 85% of my job around disciple making relationships, beginning with our core team. It was a worthy goal and I almost made it. By setting the bar high it insured that I would at least do something right.
All of this is good and hopefully meaningful to you.
However, this week I was faced with a five-faceted question concerning, not just my efforts, but a model I’ve used as a fallback for most of my adult life.
The question was, “Is your approach to disciple making simple, effective, memorable, reproducible and portable?
Five Important Characteristics of a Disciple-Making Continuum:
I’ll attempt to explain what we think was the genesis of church multiplication in our circles in the next few paragraphs and then we’ll get onto the characteristics in that loaded question.
For starters our model emerged from two scriptures, Ephesians 4 and Acts 2.
In Ephesians we see that the purpose for Jesus depositing leadership gifts in the church is for the equipping of ordinary people so they can build the church (numerically and in strength) toward maturity, and ultimate reproduction.
Acts presents an interesting conundrum, 300-plus new converts became leaders on the afternoon of the day we call Pentecost. They were immediately plunged into leadership. How do I know this? Well the numbers swelled from 120 to at least 3120 in a day. They met in the temple courts, where the apostles could have covered the teaching load, and in homes where there weren’t enough apostles to cover the bases.
The result was that the church indulged in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, prayer, eating, giving, praising and getting along with the neighbors better than most of us today.
It’s that teaching element which set us on a path toward a workable model.
If these neophytes were involved in the apostles teaching in homes, it suggests that they were reflecting whatever the apostles taught in more public spaces. We decided that we could arm our lawyers, engineers, teenagers and truck drivers with meaningful questions we could help our people reflect more deeply on whatever the Holy Spirit was saying while our primary leaders taught in public meetings. The result was a model that I describe much better in a book I wrote called Let Go of the Ring: The Hope Chapel Story. It’s an almost autobiographical look at how we developed from a handful of people into a church multiplication movement.
Analyzing our Model
Anyway, back to the question that got me writing in this vein.
Is it Simple?: We built a model that was so simple that anyone could operate it after having been exposed through a mentor in their life—this technique is better caught than taught.
Is it Effective?: For us the norm was 50-60 percent involvement in our disciple-making continuum.
Is it Memorable?: Because our reflection model was the organizing principle for our church we replicated it (as distinct from duplicating it) at four levels. 1. It was our primary model for what people would call home groups or micro-churches within the circle of our congregation. 2. It became our tool for leadership training circles. 3. It could work with two or three friends in the marketplace. 4. Finally, we could train people in other countries to use this simple model. Because we used pretty much the same approach everywhere everyone was aware of the basics. It was memorable.
Is it Reproducible?: A good model is easy to reproduce as new groups form. Beyond that it was easy for our church plants to operate the model. Easier because most of our plants were an outgrowth of our in-house micro-churches.
Is it Portable?: The nice thing about what we did was that it works as well for our friends in Mongolia as it does in Kenya or Kailua, Hawaii. What we do should be portable enough to operate in other cultures.
So, what is this magical model? Well I’m not here to preach our model to you. My intent is to make sure that whatever you do grow out of the scripture rather than google. And I want to ask if whatever you land on – Is it: simple, effective, memorable, reproducible and portable?
For King Jesus,
Bobby Harrington, Point Leader, Discipleship.org
Join us in Phoenix for our 2020 Disciple Making Forum
“Three Primary Colors of Disciple Making”
by Justin Gravitt
“9 Essentials of a Discipleship Group – Part 1: Leadership”
by Replicate Ministries
“Your Crisis Stories”
by Craig Etheredge