At District Conference I had the privilege of summarizing and responding to the Brandon Cook’s workshop and keynote.
A Very Concise Summary of Brandon’s Content
On the personal level, discipleship is resting in our adoption as children of God and from that place of being loved and secure fulfilling our role as ambassadors.
As leaders, we face the challenge not merely of being disciples but of creating disciple-making cultures.
- Confusion over the terms: What is discipleship, disciple-making?
- Preaching a gospel that doesn’t assume disciple-making as an outcome
- Falling into the “Information = Transformation” trap
- Discerning how to actually make disciples in our unique contexts
The What is love.
The Who is people of peace.
The How is being with people in way that reveals Jesus
My Thoughts and Questions
The purpose of each of our churches is to “glorify God by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ and persuading men and women to become his disciples and dependable members of his Church.”
Are we leveraging this clear statement of disciple-making, right in our governing documents, as much as we should?
Those who wrestle through the practical issues of disciple-making work hard to clarify the meanings of discipleship and disciple-making.
But the prior question is often ignored: What exactly is a disciple?
If we are to make disciples we need a clear picture of what that person looks like, a DDP, Description of a Discipled Person.
C. The Gospel
Our doctrinal statement has a clear description of the way of salvation. One of the problems Brandon identified is that many gospels preached don’t require disciple-making.
- What gospel are we preaching?
- What are we calling people to?
- Does our call to people, from the outset, assume that they will beome part of a Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, missional, disciple-multiplying movement?
D. The Hard Part
Every significant project or cause has a bottleneck, a primary constraint.
What’s the hard part of making disciples?
My opinion is that it is being and having leaders who are in fact passionate followers of Jesus, leaders who are confident enough in our own walk with the Lord that we freely call people to “follow us as we follow Christ.”
Whether I am right or not, whatever the constraint actually is, identifying and addressing it will do more than anything else to accelerate our disciple-making.
Principle: Whatever an organization or organism is actually producing, that’s what it’s optimized for.
Question: What is the church or ministry I serve optimized for? (i.e.: What are we actually producing?)
We may be tempted to optimize for:
- the delivery of religious products and programs
- minimizing the complaints of stakeholders
- our job security and financial well-being
- coolness, shown by acceptance in the larger culture, or status in the church world
But we are called to optimize for making disciples.
What do we need to subtract in order to develop a disciple-making culture?
If we’re busy (and we are!) and disciples aren’t being made effectively, to begin “glorifying God by making disciples” we can’t just add something. There’s no room, no margin.
We need to subtract something before we add anything else.
And subtracting is hard. Far harder than adding. We often think of vision as adding something new. In our current context, leaders must also subtract.
G. Complexity, Simplicity, and Focus
A Swiss army knife has many blades and is capable of mediocrity in many things. A filleting knife has one blade and does one job extremely well.
An effective disciple-making church will look more like a filleting knife than a Swiss army knife.