Discipleship as a Divine Purpose, Not a Cute Program

by: Chris Lagerlof  |  April 14th, 2017  |  Multi-Site  | 

It’s surprising how many churches have their multisite launch strategy in place but haven’t thought much about their strategy for discipleship. To launch a healthy campus or church plant, the two must go hand in hand. How you reach and disciple people, including your launch team, will determine your Discipling DNA. Scripture tells us to “be fruitful and multiply” and “make disciples of all nations.” Clearly, what we produce matters!

Too often, churches get sidetracked and focus most of their time, energy and resources on the following:

  1. Equipping people to be event planners to help plant a worship service 
  1. Producing disciples for the church — not the city and the world


When our focus becomes the launch itself, we lose sight of what it is we are trying to produce. I’ve seen way too many campus pastors and church planters experience a successful launch with no short-term and long-term plan to nurture and disciple the people who show up.

In fact, what often happens is we get overwhelmed by the success of the launch and introduce more events and programs as the primary strategy to disciple people. But discipleship isn’t best accomplished through tongue-in-cheek events or extravagant programs; discipleship is best achieved in the environments and culture we create for people.


Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you focus on a strategy to produce healthy disciples while launching a vibrant campus or church:


  1. Healthy discipleship results in natural multiplication. A recent study revealed that only 3% of churches in the United States have “intentionally” launched a campus or planted a church within the last 10 years. My heart broke when I heard this. 100% of churches should be regularly planting and multiplying the fruit they produce. This isn’t a result of poor multisite or church planting strategies, but rather an ineffective discipleship strategy. If you want to multiply at the smallest unit (the individual) or largest unit (the church), then you must have an effective strategy and environment for discipleship. In my opinion, the greatest way to measure the success of the church is by how well we multiply.
  1. Discipleship is not a linear process. Discipleship is about the environment and culture we create. The Western Church has become so fixed on the “Learn, Grow, and Go” model of discipling people. Instead, we need to embrace the idea of “Hear and Obey.” I would even argue that hearing and obeying is an accurate definition for discipleship. The bottom line is that many of our programs, curriculum and events actually hinder discipleship instead of foster it.
  1. Don’t mistake participation for transformation. As the great John Wooden always coached his players, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” We often celebrate the wrong things and use the wrong metrics to measure success. Be careful NOT to link your success on the weekend (numbers & attendance) to your success in discipling people in your community. Discipleship is the divine purpose of the church, not the weekend gathering. The enemy loves to pervert our purpose and cause us to focus on the wrong things.
  1. Make disciples that change society, not just serve the church. Disciples in the church show up to church; Disciples for the world are released to change it. The Great Commission is for every follower of Jesus – not just paid Clergy. Be careful not to create a culture where the people you disciple only serve the very programs and events you create. God has given us a responsibility to reach our city and transform society. This only happens with an effective discipleship strategy focused on the Great Commission and Genesis 1:28.
  1. Stop waiting! It’s simple: the discipleship culture, strategy and environment you create will be embedded in your DNA from day one. Don’t wait until the masses gather to decide on your strategy. If you do, chances are you will end up with a strategy you don’t like.

Chris Lagerlof

Chris is a strategic thinker, project specialist and experienced leader. His passion is to help leaders and churches move forward by maximizing their focus, clarity and performance. Chris worked for 17 years as a Pastor and Champion of several ministries… Read More