04 January 2010

The Downstream Effects of Making Disciples v. Building Churches - Part 3

(continued from yesterday)
These four characteristics of a disciple-making church bring us to the end of our (not exhaustive) list. Find the rest of the list here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).
  1. Hospitality. Whether it is the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:42), Cornelius (Acts 10:48), Lydia (Acts 16:15) or the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:34), Luke reveals that hospitality accompanies salvation. In fact, in the New Testament, hospitality is so fundamental to the Christian life that it is a requirement for elders (1 Tim 3:2).

    Because church-building results in a focus on programming and events, they become the context for developing relationships. But making disciples is a much more intimate affair and it often happens over a meal and hours of discussion...in a home. In a church where disciples are being made, hospitality is common - even in the land of closed garage doors and foreign neighbors.

  2. Peace. A common Savior (because Christ is central), common goal (because all are commissioned to make disciples) and common humility (because the Gospel is cherished) provide a foundation for unity (Eph 4:1-6).

  3. Reproduction. Structure and personality will eventually be eaten by worms. The perseverance of the Gospel and the Church over 2000 years marked by different cultures, methods, personalities and governments, reveals the strength of the Great Commission. Disciple-making is reproducible in any situation.

  4. An open hand on the results. Life-sucking legalism nips at the heels of every church. It leads to a white-knuckle grip on self-justifying results. Leaders get mad at the folks they lead because they aren't falling in line and validating their leadership. Parents are intense because good kids justify their "godly parenting." The pressure mounts with no rest.

    A culture of disciple-making focuses on the perfect righteousness of Christ that comes by faith (1 John 4:7-19). In this culture, actions follow blessing they don't lead to blessing. White-knuckles, competition and comparison are eliminated. We do because Jesus has done it all, not to obligate Him to do more (2 Cor. 5:14-15 and Psalm 4:5).

    The Gospel is communicated to neighbors and co-workers as an overflow of love for Christ not as a means of earning a place in the church. Parents parent because they are obeying their Savior, not to get good children. Husbands selflessly lead because they are modeling Christ, not to get perfect affirmation from their wives. Obedience is motivated by love not by earning (1 Cor. 4:7 and Titus 2:11-14) and this motivation is championed (John 14:15 and 1 John 3:24).
Maybe next year's Christmas programs will be more simple, maybe they won’t. In either case, I’m praying that 2010 will be the year that disciple-making takes its proper place over church-building. May God graciously bring these effects in churches all over America.

Additional Resources
A summary of this series of posts:
Leadership Fridays: Building The Church or Making Disciples
Leadership Fridays: Why We Prefer Church-Building
Leadership Fridays: The Downstream Effects of Church-Building
The Downstream Effects of Making Disciples v. Building Churches - Part 1
The Downstream Effects of Making Disciples v. Building Churches - Part 2
The Downstream Effects of Making Disciples v. Building Churches - Part 3


  1. I appreciate your thoughts Mitch. And I was deeply convicted this morning by your message on making disciples. Thanks for challenging this church to be the real church and body of Christ.

  2. This is the very thing I love about this church Mitch. You are so on the right path and your message deeply convicted me as well. Reaching people one RELATIONSHIP at a time...