by Iván Martí
“What we need to concentrate on is discipleship not church planting. God has called us to make disciples not to plant a church.”
Years ago when I announced my plans to plant a second church, this was the response I received from another pastor. From his perspective, church planting was a poor stewardship of God’s resources compared with discipleship initiatives in our Jerusalem and Judea.
This pastor is not alone in his viewpoint. This classic debate is an impassioned one with the goal of igniting the hearts of devout church planters, evangelists, and teachers. The question goes something like this: “What should we focus on: discipleship or church planting?” This question itself is intrinsically flawed. Both are an integral part of what God desires to do through us: “Go and make disciples” and “on this rock, I will build my church” (see Matt. 28:19 and 16:18).
There are enough resources in God’s economy to fulfill both. Making disciples who make disciples is vital to church planting by equiping disciplemakers who reproduce and build the Church through generations! We need both to fulfill the Great Commission and advance God’s Kingdom. Together, they will accelerate the spread of the gospel in the United States as new believers become disciples who make other disciples resulting in new faith communities to continue the divine cycle until the end of days.
Disciples Who Make Disciples Who Make Disciples
The importance of disciplemaking is undeniable in the Bible. Jesus made it abundantly clear that we are to make disciples of all nations. The heart of the Church’s mission is making disciples who make disciples. If a person is far from Christ, we need to first present the gospel, walk alongside them in their faith journey, baptize them, and disciple them to obey Jesus’ commands.
But the impact of disciplemaking extends beyond personal spiritual growth. The deeper life is not just about sound orthodoxy but sound orthopraxis in submission to the Father (see 1 Cor. 4:20). As disciples are made and equipped, they should get involved in reaching others for Christ.
Disciplemaking Kingdom math works like this:
If I can only get involved with three new disciples at the same time for two years each, in 10 years we will have around 15 new disciples.
However, if I equipped them to not only be disciples but also disciplemakers who make disciplemakers, in 10 years we will have at least 243 disciplemakers.
Making disciplemakers will, in time, birth a mature church. Because of this, disciplemaking is the foundation for church planting. It produces individuals who are passionate about sharing their faith and establishing new expressions of the Church.
Church Planting Accelerates Disciplemaking
Before you ever plant a church, you must be settled about how you and your church body will approach the mission of making disciples. A leader without a plan for disciplemaking should never plant a church. If you want to launch a Sunday morning service but have little care for the hard work of discipleship, then you don’t want to plant a church. Church planting is all about making disciples who make disciples.
When a new church is planted, it often attracts individuals who are seeking God and are open to having a new relationship with Him. Church plants provide an environment where disciplemaking can occur in a more focused, intentional manner. The small and close-knit nature of a new church allows for deeper relationships, personalized discipleship, and a strong sense of community.As new believers are discipled within the church plant, they are not only equipped to grow in their faith but also empowered to participate in the disciplemaking process themselves, which will create Kingdom multiplication that accelerates the spread of the gospel and the formation of more mature disciples.
Church planting, however, is not merely the end goal of the disciplemaking process. Rather, church planting is a catalyst to fulfill the Church’s disciplemaking mission. Church planters need to develop a culture of biblical discipleship in their churches. They must equip the congregation to own their roles as active participants in the life of the church and the work of church planting (see Eph. 4:11–16).
Church Planting Expands the Reach of the Gospel
While existing churches play a vital role in disciplemaking, they are limited in their ability to reach new people and communities. Church planting is the strategic approach needed to fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations.
By planting new churches, the message of Jesus can be proclaimed and new disciples can be made in places these established churches cannot reach. This ensures that the gospel reaches diverse contexts, cultural groups, and geographical areas. As a result, individuals who may have never encountered the gospel otherwise can hear and respond to God’s saving grace.
Disciplemaking Strengthens Our Church Plants
As church plants are established, disciplemaking remains a central focus within these communities. The ongoing process of nurturing and equipping individuals to become mature disciples ensures the health and vitality of the church plant. When new believers are grounded in their faith and grow in their relationship with Christ, they become active participants in the disciplemaking process. This strengthens the church plant, creates a culture of continuous growth and learning, and contributes to its long-term sustainabilityand multiplication.
Fostering Growth and Expansion
Disciplemaking and church planting are inseparable and complementary endeavors. Mature, reproducing disciples, with their passion for sharing the gospel, play a pivotal role in the establishment of new churches through church-planting efforts. Church planting, in turn, accelerates disciplemaking by providing an environment conducive to intentional and focused disciplemaking, expanding the reach of the gospel and ensuring unreached peoples hear about Jesus.
Together, disciplemaking and church planting form a powerful force fostering the growth of believers and the expansion of God’s Kingdom. By engaging in both, the Church will become a dynamic community of disciplemakers committed to sharing the gospel, establishing new churches, and impacting the world for Christ.
September is Multiplication Month
Multiplication is more than just planting churches. In the Great Commission, Jesus charges His Church to go and make disciples. Together, disciplemaking and church planting form a powerful force to foster the growth of believers and expansion of God’s Kingdom.
September is a month of multiplication! Join us in sharing the importance of multiplication in fulfilling God’s mission. Click here to find resources and learn more.
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