Parenting for “church members” versus parenting for “disciple makers” (a few extra thoughts on this week’s suggestion).

Keeping in line with this week’s suggestion for parenting SENT kids (you can read Monday’s post by clicking here), here is an important question to consider:

Are you parenting your children to be church members or disciple makers?

Is there a difference in simply being a “church member” versus actually being a disciple maker? I would suggest there is. When “finding a church” is the goal, too often personal development and preferential appeasement result. Another result tends to be close friendships with people who are only like us – other church members. This inhibits and sometimes prohibits the making of disciples, mainly because it inhibits and too often prohibits family-like relationships with those who have yet to believe in the One who was sent (Jesus).

[ SIDE NOTE _ in order to best understand where I am writing from here, let’s define terms. “Discipleship” is typically defined as curriculum and classes that help Christians learn more about God and development their personal holiness. Church members are very often involved in discipleship. “Making disciples” is learning and living the ways of Jesus in ongoing relationships with a few other followers of Jesus but also with people who have yet to follow Him. Disciple makers tend to learn about God and grow in His holiness while they are also making other disciples. Like Jesus did. ]

This last week during Exponential, my friend Larry McCrary and I led a breakout entitled “Don’t Plant a Church, Send One.” The premise was that if you plant a church, you won’t always make disciples of Jesus. However, if you make disciples of Jesus, you will end up with a church emerging from those disciples. Why? Because that is who the church is – sent ones sent TOGETHER by the Sent One.

In the breakout, I offered a few contrasts between simply being a church that makes members rather than a church that makes disciples:

:: Members tend to only live FOR God, while disciple makers live WITH God.

:: Members are often only taught the Gospel in a crowd, while disciple makers learn the Gospel in community.

:: Members are described in a good way or a bad way depending upon whether they are IN CHURCH, while disciple makers are described whether a good day or a bad day as IN CHRIST.

:: Members commonly grow toward being moralists, while disciple makers grow toward making more disciples.

:: Members typically are encouraged to make Gospel presentations, while disciple makers typically share the Gospel in the midst of relational presence.

:: Local churches that make members almost always teach what matters to Jesus, while local churches that make disciples almost always emphasize what matters to Jesus in all they teach AND all they do.

:: Members gather to have a worship experience, while disciple makers gather to encourage one another and be equipped and leave to live sent.

:: Members tend to invite friends TO church events, while disciple makers tend to invite friends ALONG with them to learn Jesus.

:: Members are prone to spend time only with other members extracting themselves out of their community and culture into a very busy schedule of church activities with little margin for friendship with the lost, while disciple makers are prone to spend purposeful and intentional time with other disciple makers engaging together their community and culture in family-like relationship that welcomes the lost like they are already family, too.

So, for which one are you parenting? Which one are you modeling?

May we cultivate into our kids that they may become disciple makers. It is who a follower of Jesus is. And just in case you wonder whether this is my opinion only or a scripturally-supported notion:

“Follow Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”
-Jesus, Mark 1:17


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