Mike Breen on discipleship, asks the question: Have we become proficient in many things while simultaneously becoming deficient in the one thing that matters most?”

We talk about discipleship and mission a lot on this blog.

That’s par for the course, yeah? But check out this excerpt from Eric Geiger’s blog post The Bottom-Line of Church Ministry. It expresses, in a unique way, so much of what we’ve been going after in the last 18 months”

“For a church to be deficient in discipleship is to be deficient in the church’s fundamental reason for existence. If any organization is shoddy in its core reason for existence, it matters nothing if the organization excels at other things. If Apple is deficient in designing computers, it matters nothing if they excel in outfitting and decorating their stores. If Starbucks is deficient in coffee, mastering the art of creating loyal employees means nothing. To be deficient in your core reason for existence is always unacceptable.

We have learned to do many things as church leaders. We build buildings. We design programs. We challenge donors. We staff our churches. We put on events. We rally people around new initiatives. And as our churches grow, we become increasingly proficient in a myriad of other things from branding to facility management. But are we making disciples? Have we become proficient in many things while simultaneously becoming deficient in the one thing that matters most?”

In our work at 3DM, we get the opportunity to talk with many church leaders, of varying denominations, backgrounds, church situations. Some of the most interesting discussions are leaders living in the tension that Eric describes here. They find themselves in churches that everyone would call “successful” as they have hundreds or thousands of people and are growing.

Yet they struggle to find disciples in the masses.

David Fitch wrote a book a few years back called The Great Giveaway. The introduction alone is worth the price of the book. But in it, Dave basically poses this question: “If you have a church of 1000, but only 150 are in small groups, volunteer and tithe, do you have a church of 1000 or a church of 150?”

I think this question is another way of stating the tension Eric describes in this post.

Disciples seem to be what Jesus is after. That’s the end goal. Do your metrics for success revolve around that or the standard ABC’s (attendance, buildings, cash)? Do you sometimes say, “I think we make disciples, but at least we have a lot of people coming to our thing”? Have we allowed corporate measures of success be the thing that influence our understanding of “success” more than the words of Jesus?

Do our churches not only see making disciples as their primary aim, but even if they do see it this way, how effective are they at making disciples?

What’s your plan for making disciples? Is your plan working?