Would You Rather: Connect More People or Make More Disciples?

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Ever been caught up in a crazy game of “would you rather?” with your kids?  You know what I’m talking about, right?

  • Would you rather be 3 feet tall or 8 feet tall?
  • Would you rather be rich and ugly, or poor and good looking?
  • Would you rather eat a handful of hair or lick three public telephones?

Been there?  Usually, I’d get sucked into answering one and then have to desperately change the subject or spend the rest of the car ride responding to progressively crazier questions!

Here’s a grouplife would you rather question:

Would you rather connect more unconnected people or make more disciples?

What do you think?  Which way do you land?

If you’re like me, you immediately object.  If you’re like me, it isn’t an either/or proposition.  It’s both.  I’d rather connect more unconnected people and make more disciples.

Wouldn’t you?  Wouldn’t you rather do both?

The Big Takeaway

For me, it’s a logic misstep to pit one against the other.  For me, both are essential.

I’m 100% certain that unconnected people are one tough thing away from not being at your church [click to tweet]. Loss of a job.  Divorce or separation.  A devastating diagnosis.  A child in trouble (see also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Connecting People).

One tough thing.

So…I absolutely must implement a strategy that connects people as fast as I can.

And, I’m also certain that our mission is to make disciples.  Fully devoted Christ-followers.

That said, I must build into the strategy not only ways to connect more unconnected people, but connect them into groups that are truly the optimum environment for the kind of life-change that produces more and better disciples (see also, The Essential Ingredients for Life-Change and 5 Keys to a More Dynamic Group Experience).

What do you think?  Want to ask a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Daniel Lee

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  1. Rick Howerton on January 10, 2013 at 7:42 am

    This is what I’m desperately wrestling with, Mark. I’m asking myself again and again… “Is it possible to make mature disciples without something more strategic than saying “ya’ all come?” Disciples in Jesus era, because He was a Rabbi, as mentioned in my blog a few days ago, knew that, in order to be discipled, they had to commit to something more than just gathering together and being part of the every day every body’s who attended the synagogue, listened to Jesus’ teachings, and watched Him heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons. They were vividly aware that, in order to be discipled they had to commit to a new lifestyle as they were forced to travel with the Rabbi and serve Him.

    The key word used in the first sentence of my comment is what is haunting me the most. The word “mature.” I do believe that a disciple can simply join a group and be part of the Christian community we call “group.” But, is it possible to become a mature disciple without a group leader who has been discipled or trained to make a mature disciples?

    My own situation… I’m leading a small group made up of 18 people (much bigger than I’d like). All of them are about my age, over 50. Many of them have been in church all of their adult lives and in a small group or Sunday School class for at least two decades, most longer than that. When I asked them about their prayer life, personal Bible study, being on mission for Christ, etc… none of them knew how to accomplish any of the things required of a person who is growing in Christ or what a person who is one of Jesus’ disciples is called to be about. They are spiritual babes. I asked them if they would allow my wife and I to disciple them. You know what their first question was? “What’s going to be required of us?” Counting the costs seems to be more than something Jesus spoke of, it seems to be a natural reaction to anyone who is considering becoming a mature disciple of Jesus Christ. But that is true only if the small group leader knows what is required of someone who is growing in Christ and is willing to set the bar at the level necessary for meaningful transformation to take place.

    As you can see… I’m on a journey. I’m praying that others will join me in asking questions of themselves, even asking the question, “Is my small group ministry making mature disciples or not?”

    No slam on anyone here. I’m grappling, not making pronouncements.

    Thanks for this conversation, Mark. It allows me to process with someone/people I respect.


  2. Rick Howerton on January 10, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Forgive me, Mark. Another thought just popped into my mind, especially after reading your blog post again. Is it possible to connect unconnected people (those who are already followers of Christ), if we let them know that, if they join one of our groups, they are going to be asked to be involved in those things that will make them mature disciples of Jesus Christ? And, if they decline because of biblical expectations verbalized and modeled by Jesus Himself, we accept their decision and pray that they will, in time, accept the expectations Jesus Himself required, and join a group when they are ready to commit to those biblical expectations. After all, most of our churches are already telling people that, “If you’re not ready to join a group yet, attend the church until you’re ready to make that commitment, then we’ll get you in a group.”

  3. markchowell on January 10, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I believe you are asking great questions, Rick. For me, the key is that while Jesus did call for full commitment…He made that call to those who were already following, if only in the crowd. How does that translate to the 21st century? I think we need to be smartly offering strategic first steps (connecting into a group) where the crowd can be known, cared for, encouraged, and challenged to come after Jesus as fully devoted followers.

    I’m with you. Still, while I believe many of us are guilty of stopping at connecting…it is still the first ask. We need to be proactively building hosts into leaders who can be disciple-makers, we must be providing the pathways needed in groups, we need to be casting that vision from the stories we’re telling, etc.

    Thanks for jumping in here, Rick. I too, really appreciate the conversation.

  4. markchowell on January 10, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I think we could certainly design the strategy that does that. More to the point, though, I think we can (and should) design into the everyday connecting strategy a natural “come and see” to “come and die” sequence.