Why is Disciple Making so Important to the Local Church

Why is Disciple Making so Important to the Local Church

Multiplying disciples is the primary way churches grow and multiply. When you look at the early church, the disciples multiplied and the church grew. In (Acts 6.7 ESV) we read, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” 
Healthy church growth comes as a result of healthy disciple making. Churches that grow rapidly due to faddish gimmicks or celebrity leaders seldom last. These churches are usually a mile wide and an inch deep. But churches that reach their communities with the Gospel, draw new believers into healthy groups and train them to walk with God and reproduce, enjoy long-term growth that is steady and strong. 
Why is disciple making so important to the local church? Let me give you a few reasons:

1. Disciple making is the best way to raise up leaders. 

After all, it was Jesus who trained up His disciples and eventually commissioned them into leadership (Mark 3.13-14 ESV). Jesus didn’t go find great leaders and then draft them into His cause. He found men who were faithful, available and teachable, and then He trained them up and placed them into positions of leadership. 
The Apostle Paul followed that same model. Paul would often lead men to Christ and disciple them for a period of time. Once they proved faithful in their personal lives, he would introduce them to leadership roles. 
Many pastors will tell me in frustration, “I just don’t have enough leaders”. But, the way you get leaders is to grow leaders! That’s what Jesus did. Churches make the grave mistake of placing people into leadership roles who have not been trained to walk with God, reach their world and invest in a few. If they are not living these principles out in their own lives, how can they be entrusted to lead the church to do these things? 

2. Disciple making is the best way to keep pastors and church leaders refreshed and joyful. 

I think back to the Apostle Paul’s words to the Thessalonian church when he said, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy,” (I Thessalonians 2.19-20 ESV)
The joy in ministry for Paul was not based on his accomplishments or professional success. His joy came from loving and investing in the people God gave him. Jesus was the same way. The only time we read of Jesus being filled with joy is found when He saw the men He had discipled, now investing and raising up a new generation of disciples (Luke 10.21 ESV). 
Let’s face it… many pastors are burned out! The struggle to preach like Spurgeon, lead like Patton, and be compassionate like mother Teresa can be overwhelming. No one person can meet the expectations of every church member. If a pastor’s joy is rooted in the approval of people or the accomplishment of goals, eventually that joy will fade. 
But the real joy in ministry comes when you invest your life in people and watch them go on to do the same. Nothing compares to that joy! I’ve been a pastor now for many years. I’ve weathered the highs and lows of church life. But the one thing that keeps me deeply committed to the local church is the deep love I have for the people I’ve poured my life into, and the deep joy of watching them walk with God. That never gets old! 

3. Disciple making is the best way to raise the missional temperature of your church. 

As you disciple people in the church, and help them walk with God and share their faith, you will find that the overall attitude of the church will change. People will be more active in sharing their faith. People will become more eager to give and be willing to serve. People are more committed to the mission of the church and less interested in divisions and distractions. 
In many ways, disciple making is like putting deep piers into the foundation of the church. Because you have deep, committed, proven disciples now in the church body, the foundation is less likely to shift, crack or split. Some pastors feel that if they simply preach on these topics the people will behave differently. I’ve not found that to be the case. 
I’m certainly not against preaching. Preaching and teaching God’s Word is absolutely vital to any healthy, growing church. But there are some behaviors that just can’t be taught; they have to be caught. You have to see someone “live it out” and show you how to do it. 
Much of the Christian life is like this. I had heard many sermons on prayer, but I learned to pray from a man who invited me to his home at 5:30 am, once a week to pray together. I had heard many sermons on sharing my faith, but I learned from a man who took me out and showed me how to share the Gospel. I had heard many sermons on disciple making, but I learned from a man who poured his life into me and then taught me how to do the same with others. When we make disciples in the local church, we change the entire atmosphere of the church. 

4. Disciple making multiplies the church’s influence. 

Once you have strong emerging leaders, refreshed pastors and a healthy church family, you are now prepared to expand the church’s ministry. These trained disciples become the men and women on the front lines who are expanding the church’s reach at home and around the world. 
They are the first to start new small groups and “Grow Groups”. They are the first to go overseas and make disciples. They are the first to give sacrificially. They are the first to launch new worship venues, new church plants and new church locations. They are the first to follow the Spirit’s lead and begin new ministries that have yet to be seen. Making disciples is essential to the multiplication of a healthy church.
This blog features an excerpt from one of our books, Invest In A Few.

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