This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Becoming a Disciple Maker. Download it free here.
In late 2016, a group of national disciple making experts gathered to spend time developing a paradigm by which people could evaluate their effectiveness as disciple makers. We received input from seasoned leaders, female and male alike, and were especially pleased to have venerable voices like Robert Coleman (author of The Master Plan of Evangelism) and others.1 Those nationally known disciple makers who rolled up their sleeves to help set the framework of this disciple-making tool included:
- Bill Hull, author and founder of The Bonhoeffer Project.
- Jim Putman, author, pastor and co-founder of the Relational Discipleship Network.
- Robby Gallaty, author, pastor and founder of Replicate Ministries.
- Ralph Moore, author, pastor and founder of the Hope Chapel Movement.
- Monte Stark, author, pastor and director of Life on Life Ministries.
- Dave Buehring, author, pastor, and founder of LionShare Ministry.
- Todd Wilson, author and executive director of Exponential
Other facilitators were involved as well. I (Bobby) led the effort with Todd Wilson’s help. My co-author on this book, Greg Wiens, also helped with direction, and then we followed up with the material afterward.
With the help of these and other leaders, we have developed an objective and validated online Disciple Maker Assessment tool. We have also written this book to explain the tool and the way it gauges disciple makers. Our goal is to help individuals get an accurate perception of themselves as disciple makers so that they can then develop growth plans. We hope to encourage and inspire everyone to become Level 5 disciple makers—those who make disciples who then become disciple makers themselves. It’s the power of multiplication. We follow Jesus and learn to do what He did.
We have both benefitted greatly from working on this tool and writing about the principles and practices that undergird and support it. Before we go any farther, allow us to introduce ourselves. We want you to know a little bit about us, which may help you understand the vantage point we’re both writing from and doing life.
I (Bobby) am a lead pastor and church planter. My vantage point has been informed by the following:
- Lead pastor (30 years)
- Church planter
- Coach and trainer of hundreds of church planters
- Founder and director of a national coaching organization for church leaders
- Leader in two national church network systems (Stadia and the Relational Discipleship Network)
- Doctor of Ministry degree in consulting
- Author of numerous books on disciple making, including the popular DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church Make Disciples That Make Disciples (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman) and (the recently released) Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick)2
- Co-founder and executive director of Discipleship.org
It was just over ten years ago that I came to the firm conclusion that Jesus’ style of disciple making is the core mission of the Church.3 That awakening now informs everything I do and led me to establish Discipleship.org.
This is from Bobby Harrington and Greg Wien’s free eBook, Becoming a Disciple Maker. Download the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.
I (Greg) have been a lead pastor, church planter, assessor, and coach. My vantage point has been formed by over thirty-five years of experience, including the following:
- Lead pastor
- Church planter
- Church, school, and business consultant
- Developer of twenty-plus different assessment tools
- Assistant professor of education (University of Central Florida/Warner Southern University)
- Founder and chief catalyst for Healthy Growing Churches
- Founder and chief catalyst for Healthy Growing Leaders
- Doctorate of Education in psychometrics (University of Central Florida)
I have been an advocate for relational disciple making for the better part of the last four decades. However, at times in my life, I focused more on making disciples rather than intentionally focusing on making disciples who make disciples. I firmly believe there’s nothing more important today than being a disciple maker who makes disciples who make disciples—to the fourth generation.
Some Helpful Definitions
Discipleship.org has adopted a few definitions that many have found useful. They create clarity and give us handles for the disciple-making and multiplication conversation. In this book, we’re using the following four simple definitions (described in more detail in the book The Disciple Maker’s Handbook).3
- A disciple – someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and is committed to the mission of Jesus (Matt. 4:19).
- Disciple making – helping people to trust and follow Jesus.
- Disciple maker – a Christian who enters into relationships with people to help them trust and follow Jesus.
- Discipleship-first (person/tribe) – those who see themselves through the missional lens of being disciples who make disciples.
Both Greg and I believe that establishing common markers of the varied approaches to discipleship will be beneficial for the community of disciple-making disciples. We want to avoid elevating one author, method or approach to disciple making over another and instead, create synergy among disciple makers through creating a common language around an online tool.
We also want an online tool to help Christians develop an objective assessment of themselves as disciple makers. By establishing profiles and criteria, we create a benchmark—an objective standard by which we can compare ourselves to the standard of effective disciple makers today.
The practical levels we use are simple and easy to understand and apply—aligning with Exponential’s Becoming 5 framework based on five levels of multiplication capacity for churches.4 Our levels for measuring personal discipleship include:
- Level 1 (Subtracting from disciple-making efforts)
- Level 2 (Plateaued, neither helping nor hindering disciple making)
- Level 3 (Adding, supporting disciple making)
- Level 4 (Reproducing, personally making disciples)
- Level 5 (Multiplying, personally making disciple makers)
Each of these disciple maker levels is unique. We have found that each one has common ways of thinking about God, people, being a disciple, the Kingdom, and what it means to make disciples of Jesus. The more likely someone lives out the Kingdom mindset, practices intentionality, and views their effectiveness from a long-term perspective, the farther they move along the disciple-making scale.
Jesus is our model. Jesus is the pattern for Level 5 disciple makers. He did not just make disciples; He made disciple makers. We both believe that becoming a disciple maker is a really big deal. We have written this book to help you understand our online assessment tool, use it as a map so that you can plot your progress, and then pursue further development as a disciple maker. Our passionate prayer is that you’ll aspire to become someone who makes disciples who make disciples. We pray you become a Level 5 disciple maker.
1 Robert Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism. This book is the gold standard for analysis of Jesus’ disciple-making style.
2 Bobby Harrington and Josh Patrick, The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (Zondervan, 2017).
3 Jim Putman and Bobby Harrington, with Robert Coleman, DiscipleShift: Five Shifts that Help Your Church Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Zondervan, 2013). See also, Bobby Harrington, Relational Discipleship is the Core Mission of the Church (Discipleship.org, 2013).
4 Todd Wilson, Becoming a Level 5 Multiplying Church (Exponential Resources, 2016).
Written by Bobby Harrington and Greg Wiens
Bobby Harrington is the Executive Director of Discipleship.org, a national platform, conference, and ministry that advocates for Jesus’ style of disciple making. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in consulting and has spent years as a coach to church planters and senior pastors. He is the author of several books on discipleship, including DiscipleShift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman) and The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick).
Greg Wiens has been assessing leaders and organizations for over 35 years. He has worked with a gamut of organizations ranging in size and interest from Fortune 100 companies and public schools, to small non-profits and churches. He has pastored and planted churches as well as founded a number of organizations. He currently leads two missionally focused organizations: Healthy Growing Churches and Healthy Growing Leaders committed to engaging churches and leaders to multiply. Greg has co-authored two books: Dying to Restart and Daring to Disciple.
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