Keys to Unlocking Disciple-making

Let’s consider the keys to unlocking how to be effective at making disciples. Lock and key are apt descriptions. Too often when people are converted the church does not retain them. We need to ask ourselves why? 

Healthy Growth

Based on George Barna’s published research, few churches are growing, and a high percentage having numerical growth do so only because of transfer growth. Since Covid-19, average Sunday attendance is fewer than fifty. This is the lowest average attendance in recorded history.

In the bustling world of ministry, amidst countless responsibilities and demands, one foundational aspect stands paramount: Christ’s commission to His followers was make disciples.

Look at His post-resurrection instructions. In summary it would read something like this: Go, make disciples . . .. The work product Christ’s followers produce is disciples. Matthew 28 provides how the end-product (disciples) would be produced.

  • Go, or as you are going . . .
  • Teach
  • Baptize, or convert those who have been taught
  • After conversion - teach, all things whatsoever I’ve commanded you.

The buck stops with us. It is a weighty thing to be responsible for nurturing and equipping believers to become mature followers of Christ.

Today, we embark on a quest to delve into the heart of effective discipleship strategies. We'll explore not only the importance of discipleship but also practical insights and actionable steps that can strengthen any disciple-making effort.

It’s Easy to Miss the Mark

This conversation is designed to equip you with insight needed to create a thriving culture of discipleship within the church. That culture begins with a concept:

If the church were a factory, its one product is disciples.
Not Sunday attendees
Not converts
Not exceptional sermons
Nor great praise and worship
Disciples - One Product


We can excel at what matters to the Lord Jesus Christ. But, I’ve decided to just call if for what it is, based on Barna’s data and my observation - few churches prioritize making disciples.

Worse - some are unconcerned about this lack, though none would admit it.

Why would such an egregious statement be made? The amount of money invested, or rather not invested in disciple-making is the first clue. Second, few are willing to make the changes necessary to become a disciple-making Christian, disciple-making church, and disciple-making pastor. 

A Journey

Disciple-making has been my focus for thirty-five years. It came about by my realization as a pastor  that I’d never be a super-preacher or super-extrovert who people followed.

If I’d make it any impact beyond maintaining a church, I’d have to focus on keeping those we converted. The focus on disciple-making worked, but not without a great deal of change, reshuffling priorities, hard work and trying different things. 

For the past two decades resources and ideas for disciple-making have been made available. Many have put these resources to use. For several years, Mastering Disciple-making has been available as a training course. In person or online over 300 church leaders have participated. I’m thankful.

The Few, the World-changers, the Disciple-makers

I’ve also realized how exceptional it is to find those willing to put in the effort and hard-work needed to establish a disciple-making culture. Allow a honest assessment.

  • More talk about disciples than actually make disciples.
  • Fewer than 10% of churches have a clear strategy for making disciples.
  • The strategy for many is limited to offer a orientation, or disciple-making class to newcomers.
  • Little thought is given to what a spiritual baby needs. 
  • Based on time invested and money spent - disciple-making is seldom a priority.

I’ve resolved to not pursue the masses to be part of Mastering Disciple-making. Instead, I’m interested in the 3% to 10% who are absolutely miserable if people are not being saved and matured in Christ. If you do not fit that profile - read no further.

The process of intake will include a thirty-minute phone or video conversation with co-developer Lane or I to be sure this is a fit for you and me. If you don’t have the time, energy, passion, and a sense of purpose you’ll not be effective at making disciples.

If you are interested in that thirty-minute conversation - email me at

The few, the world-changers, the disciple-makers - are you one of them? 

Disciple-making transforms: 

  • The convert
  • A congregation
  • The pastor who sees converts become teachers, tithers, and one who serves.

 Are you willing to be something more than normal. It won’t come easy. Leading a disciple-making initiative is harder work than preaching and teaching. Creating a sustainable structure to take care of spiritual infants is hard work.

Lane and I can help do this - but we cannot do it for you. 

The road ahead will be challenging at times, but the rewards of seeing lives transformed for the kingdom of God far outweighs any obstacles. Let's roll, with hearts open to God's leading and minds eager to learn and grow.

Understanding the Foundation of Effective Discipleship

Defining Discipleship: Beyond Attendance to Transformation

Discipleship is more than a program or checklist—a disciple is defined as “one who learns.” Being a disciple is a lifelong journey of learning, change, and application.

At its core, from a pastor’s perspective, disciple-making is about either you or a mature believer walking alongside individuals, guiding them as they deepen their relationship with Christ and grow in their understanding of His teachings.

Discipleship is about fostering a complete approach to spiritual development. It encompasses not only knowledge but heart transformation and results in practical application. If there is no practical application has discipleship happened?

As pastors, it's essential to understand that discipleship extends far beyond Sunday sermons and church activities. Little discipleship happens from the pulpit. It involves intentional investment in the lives of others, fellowshipping to allow authentic relationships to flourish, and provide the necessary support and guidance that allows spiritual growth to happen. 

The Lord Jesus found great joy in what his group of followers became. Far more than 12, 70, or 120 made some degree of commitment to follow Him. Followers were not His joy - those who became mature and capable of impacting others. - that thrilled the heart of Christ. He mentioned it in prayer. 

If you’d like to schedule a 30 minute phone conference with Lane or me, email me at

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.