Why Disciplemaking is the Key to Church Planting

October 23, 2019

This blog article is a collaboration between Ralph Moore, Exponential’s Multiplication Catalyst and founder of the Hope Chapel Movement, and Bobby Harrington, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Discipleship.org

Pastors and church planters have many tasks. We teach, preach, encourage, counsel, give pastoral advice and generally build up the church. It is easy to get over-whelmed.

Clarity & Focus

We need clarity and focus. Thankfully the Bible gives that to us.

Our core job is to make disciples.

The apostle Paul described this core job for church leaders in two key passages.

  • We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Col. 1:28, 29).
  • My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!  (Gal. 4:19, 20).

Presenting People to Christ

Notice how these passages are not just about leading people to Christ. They are about that, but much more–church leaders are to present people as perfect (or mature) in Christ, to form people into the image of Christ.

Think about the leaders who wrote every book in the New Testament? Everything they taught us was really just about discipleship. Why did John write his gospel (he tells us in John 20:30-31)? What is the purpose of Philippians (see 1:9-11) and even Revelation (see Revelations 1:1-3)? Check this out–every book was written to help people to be disciples of Jesus Christ.

In fact, the apostle Paul summed up the whole of ministry in the church as discipleship with these words:

  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Follow The Master

New Testament scholar Michael Wilkins puts it this way in his book Follow the Master: “Since all true Christians are disciples, the ministry of the church may be seen in its broadest sense as ‘discipleship.’ Various ministries within the church should be seen as specialization, aspects, or stages of discipleship training.” In the end, everything in the local church is about making disciples. And the core focus of everything pastors and church planters do needs to keep coming back to disciple making.

That is why Jesus gave the apostles his FINAL COMMAND…

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Disciple-making as a Dimension of Multiplication

At Exponential, one of our core frameworks is the Three Dimensions of Multiplication. This framework provides the three critical elements for how to move to a Level 4 Reproduction and Level 5 Multiplication operating system. The first dimension of multiplication is disciple-making. As I [Ralph] said in Exponential’s book Multipliers, “Disciple making is at the heart of Hope Chapel. I’d say that making disciples is 90 percent of this movement. It gives us a solid foundation for a new scorecard that prioritizes Level 5 multiplication over Level 3 addition growth.” To read more about the Three Dimensions of Multiplication, visit the Multipliers book page.

If you want to go further in your knowledge and practice of disciple-making, we want to invite you to Discipleship.org’s National Disciple Making Forum, November 7-8, 2019. The Exponential team will be at the Forum leading a series of five workshops called “Mobilizing Disciples to Multiply Disciples”. We would love for you to join us.

Ralph Moore

Ralph Moore

Ralph Moore is the founding pastor of three churches which grew into the Hope Chapel movement now numbering more than 2,300 churches worldwide. These are the offspring of the 70+ congregations launched from Ralph’s hands-on disciplemaking efforts. He currently serves as “church multiplication catalyzer” for Exponential. In addition to this, he travels the globe, teaching church multiplication to pastors in startup movements. He has authored several books, including Making DisciplesHow to Multiply Your ChurchStarting a New Church, Defeating Anxiety, and Let Go of the Ring: The Hope Chapel Story. Catch his blog at www.ralphmoore.net.
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Bobby Harrington

Bobby Harrington

Dr. Bobby Harrington is the co-founder (with Todd Wilson) of and executive director of Discipleship.org, a national ministry that advocates for Jesus' style of disciple making and hosts a national forum on disciple making. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church. He has trained hundreds of church planters and coaches of church planters (with Stadia) and he has authored multiple books on discipleship, including DiscipleShift (with Jim Putman), Dedicated, Discipleship that Fits (with Alex Absalom) and, most recently, The Disciple Maker's Handbook (with Josh Patrick). Bobby and his lovely wife Cindy treasure spending time with their married children and their spouses, a new grandchild, other family, friends, and trips to Israel.
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