The Heart of a Level 5 Church: Radical Discipleship

#MultiplicationMatters

Bill Easum

The one ingredient a Level 5 church cannot do without is radical discipleship. Raising up radical disciples is the underbelly of the exponential church planting movement. It’s impossible to exponentially plant churches without greatly expanding the breadth and depth of your disciples. So much of the focus of multiplication is on the raising up and discipling people so that the church can multiply in whatever fashion it chooses.

Radical discipleship is going beyond the accepted norm. It is allowing every facet of one’s life to be shaped by the gospel. It is more than attending a membership class, or attending worship, or even being a tither. It is to walk and talk and act like Jesus every day, in every way. Radical discipleship is of such a nature that if we even come close to it in our daily lives, others will want to know what we have that they don’t have, which opens the door for us to share our faith.

Radical discipleship is both father and mother to any exponential church multiplication movement.  So what is a radical disciple?

Radical discipleship is both father and mother to any exponential church multiplication movement.

A radical disciple is someone who believes in Jesus and whose beliefs inform and transform their behavior. Discipleship goes beyond mere believing and puts feet to what one is learning about Jesus along the way. Contrary to what many people believe, discipleship isn’t about learning or education. It can’t be learned in a classroom. And it’s not about memorizing scripture. Radical discipleship is carrying out the commands of Jesus in every way possible. As the scripture says, “Growing in every way to become more and more like Christ, who is the head of the church.” Eph. 4:15

A radical disciple is one who will take any action that results in making disciples and growing the Kingdom, because that is what disciples do – they make disciples. Multiplication of Christians is their primary goal in life. Like Jesus, it is their legacy.

A radical disciple is one who will take any action that results in making disciples and growing the Kingdom

Discipleship Pipeline

Every church should have a well-oiled discipleship pipeline where people are moved from the streets into a community of faith and then back out on the streets to spread the gospel.

There are five components of a discipleship pipeline.

  • Finding the right leader. The right kind of leader is a mentor and coach more than a teacher. This person is able, not only to recruit, but also to model what it means to be a Jesus follower.
  • Transformational small groups. The vast majority of level 5 churches we’ve seen include small groups as one of their main avenues of growth. For more on transformational small groups see the post Missional Small Groups.
  • One-on-one mentoring. Even though small groups play a large part in discipleship, nothing can replace the effectiveness of one-on-one mentoring.
  • Formal, in-house training. Usually this is an introductory class for new or potential members. The goal is for them to be introduced to the culture and goals of the church.
  • Internship. Everyone in a discipleship pipeline is considered a potential neighborhood missionary. It’s expected that everyone do the work of ministry and be evaluated on results just like Jesus did when he sent the disciples out two by two and then debriefed them when they returned.

If you are considering being part of the Level 5 multiplication movement, you have to develop a discipleship pipeline. If you decide to do so, keep in mind the following:

  • Keep the structure simple and reproducible.
  • Make it ongoing throughout the entire year.
  • Focus the process on transformation and not information. Make sure your goal is moving nominal Christians to be true followers of Jesus.

If we are to have any hope of winning the West back for Christianity, it will begin with our churches refusing to settle for consumer Christianity, instead developing radical disciples.


Bill Easum has a thirty-year track record of growing congregations in two denominations. His last church, which he re-started and pastored for twenty-four years, grew to be one of the largest United Methodist Churches in South Texas. His record of “evangelization” and “social justice” ministries was acknowledged by Industrial Areas Foundation in New York as one of the finest examples in North America. Since 1987 Bill has devoted his time to consulting, coaching, and speaking. Bill is the Founder and President of The Effective Church Group, formerly 21st Century Strategies.

This article was originally published through Effective Church Group. Used with permission.