A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. Matthew 10:24-25

Previously, we suggested there are two simple questions any Christian can use to assess their obedience to Christ and the effectiveness of their ministry:

  1. Who is discipling you?
  2. Who are you discipling?

The article seemed particularly challenging (I am only the pen); and more so for the shepherds of God’s people – pastors, preachers, teachers, etc. Being a member of this group, I was reminded: These two questions should be answerable by every Christian in every sphere of influence we have been given responsibility for as leaders.

A dear friend – and the man God has assigned to disciple me for the last 12-15 years – shared a perspective that may prove to be even more challenging. You may not like what you read. It may even offend some of you.

Generally, it’s best not to say such things at the beginning of an article. We are swimming against the current here simply because we do not want you surprised and distracted. This way, we can simply say it without a bunch of dancing around. I trust you will consider the truthfulness of it, and apply all that is worthwhile.

“Disciple Making Works”

That’s what my friend said, “Disciple making works.” He didn’t mean what I thought he meant. He went on to explain (this is the way I heard it), “Every leader is discipling everyone they lead into some understanding; and into the life that understanding prescribes. They are doing this whether they intend to, or not.

“We are either making disciples into some understanding about Christ and His Church, OR, we are making disciples to Jesus Christ Himself that He might make them as He is Himself. And it always works.”

I respect women, mostly because my father did. My sisters became incredible marriage partners because my mother modelled that behavior. In contrast, abusive fathers beget abusive sons. Domineering women are more likely to produce domineering daughters. You get the picture.

Now, let’s translate this to the corporate level. Successful organizations tend to train their employees well. The transmission and maintenance of vision and culture creates strategic advantage. This can work to the good of an organization and its community, or to its demise.

A company I worked for used competition and consequence to motivate its managers. The environment was toxic; with high turnover and poor production. We were eventually outsourced. Turning our attention to the religious, we recognize that Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and satanic cults are very serious about making disciples. Consequently, a lot of people are running down the broad road that leads to destruction.

Disciple making works.

The leaders of Christian church fellowships are making disciples of their employees and congregants – whether they intend to, or not; and this is where things get challenging. Are we conscious of our responsibility to make good disciples? Are we purposeful in their making? When was the last time you ask yourself, “Where am I leading these people?”

If we, as leaders, have been discipled primarily to a doctrine, theology, or teaching, rather than to an intimate abiding relationship with Christ Jesus Himself, then our followers will become as we are. If, however, we have been discipled to a personal relationship with Christ Jesus Himself, then the Christ in us will do what only He can do and lead others to Himself through us.

The leaders of “successful” church organizations have discovered, like their secular counterparts, that becoming purposeful about their vision and culture creates a competitive advantage. Sounds good, right?

Well, it’s not; for the “competition” is invariably the churches down the street. As obvious as this may be, it is a reality most church leaders find hard to accept. So, let me suggest a survey.

Ask a fair sampling of your staff and lay leaders to answer the question, “What do you like most about your church?” How many do you think will take you to mean the “church” they gather in/with, versus the church of Jesus Christ that resides throughout your city?

Disciple making works.

Let’s consider another example: What people experience during the little bit of time they spend “in church” will become the expression of “church” when they leave. If their church experience is predominately about them, will they not come to expect the same from the rest of their life? Does this not describe most of the “American church”? Disciple making works.

Giving an Account

The state of the church in America is the direct result of our disciple making – intentional, or not. We will have to answer for the outcome.

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Romans 14:10

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2Corinthians 5:10

It is not my place or intention to judge anyone; and I am confident that there is no contempt in my heart for my brother-leaders. I am genuinely concerned for you and Christ’s church. We are held to a higher standard; it is a part of the privilege we have been given as leaders.

But honestly, it is hard to fathom that intelligent Christian men and women would invite the danger we have allowed for ourselves. There may not be a better example of our carnal mind’s ability to deceive, at the individual and corporate level.

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should
cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
Luke 17:1-2

God bless you with courage and boldness for those in your spheres of influence and responsibility.

Humbly yours and forever His,