I wanted to say something new. I wanted to say something innovative, paradigm shifting, and life-altering. In the midst of imagining what that would be, a thought captured me—held me captive really—if we’ve failed to do what we were first called to do, then something new is futile, not functional; it’s negligent, not useful; it’s ignorant, not innovative.
Something new is not what’s needed, rather we need to be reminded of our first priority: to make disciples who make disciples.
In the wake of the Jesus movement, the Church Growth Movement, the House Church Movement, the Large Church Movement, the Small Church Movement, the Urban Church Movement, the Suburban Church Movement, the Practical, Pragmatic, and Prosperity Church Movement, we’ve been left with the Missional Church Movement—yet it seems very few disciples are being mobilized and very little discipleship is happening.
«Something new is not what’s needed, rather we need to be reminded of our first priority: to make disciples who make disciples.»
Please, allow me to step to the front of the line and own this failure. Allow me to point the finger squarely between my eyes before pointing it at anyone else. When Renovation began, making disciples was all that mattered.
My wife and I were on the ground in Atlanta for three years before our church ever gathered for worship, and for those three years, one by one, two by two, in small groups and larger ones, we discipled people. Both pre-conversion and post-conversion (we can wrestle with this idea another time), we made disciples who were making disciples.
Then on January 16, 2011, Renovation Church “launched” publicly—at least that’s when we’ve historically marked our birth date as a church. Realistically however, Renovation Church began with our first disciple, one of our neighbors who received Jesus sitting in our living room (she would eventually design our first logo, and move to Haiti where she still serves as a missionary).
Since we began having large gatherings it has been a consistent and continual battle to keep discipleship a priority—not because it’s impossible, but because we’ve allowed ourselves to subconsciously prioritize good things that matter but are not of first importance.
We’ve allowed ourselves to push to the forefront those things that are secondary, even tertiary to the explicit priority of the church—MAKING DISCIPLES WHO MAKE DISCIPLES.
“’Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…’ (Matthew 28:18-19). That is the command. That is the call. That is the priority of the people of God.»
“’Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…’ That is the command. That is the call. That is the priority of the people of God.»
The question I leave you with is the same I am asking myself and my team every day, “Are you making disciples who make disciples?” That’s it. That’s the question, because that’s the mission.
Is it wrong to have incredible systems? Absolutely not. Many churches fail because they don’t have systems to help them function. Is it wrong to have a community focus? No, especially in urban and under-served areas. Is it wrong to run a coffee shop, a thrift store, or sports league? No. These are thoughtful ways of getting your church outside its walls.
Is it wrong to have great small groups? No, this is an intimate environment that can be leveraged for ministry in varying and dynamic ways. Is it wrong to host incredible services? No. Your gathering, like it or not, is your front door. It should be hospitable; it should be engaging; it should be meaningful; it should be moving; and it should be growing if it is healthy. There is nothing wrong with having HUGE Sunday gatherings that are done excellently.
None of these things are wrong. Actually these and many other things we do are both good and necessary, but are they priority? No. Our first priority is following Jesus’ command He gave to the first people who followed Him: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
That is the command. That is the call. That is the priority of the people of God. That is the mission, making disciples who make disciples. Everything we do should do just that.
This post was written by Leonce Crump.