What Other Criterion Besides Making Disciples?


A blog post from 2011 resurfaced yesterday titled;


It referenced another blog post from 2011 titled;

“Why Churches Should Euthanize Small Groups.”

I would suggest reading those two articles before continuing further.

A few sentences struck me in these pieces:



“Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples. The problem is 90 percent of small groups never produce one single disciple. Ever.” ~ A Nationally Recognized Pastor


“Groups don’t make disciples; disciples make disciples. It is my contention that for far too long we have placed the burden of sanctification on group meetings that were never meant to transform a soul, but to give transformed souls a place to join and interact in a healthy manner. Your church is only as good as her disciples.” ~ Neil Cole


“Well-intentioned Christians, armed with the latest insights in organizational theory, let their pragmatic and utilitarian hearts delude them into thinking they could organize, measure, and control the mystical working of the Holy Spirit in community in order to consistently reproduce disciples in other contexts.” ~ Brian Jones

While these posts are nearly 3 years old today, I believe they are just as timely and appropriate as when they were first written.  I also believe that they were surface scratchers.  If we took the basic premise and widened its scope for today, then I suspect it might sound something like this:

“Any church group anywhere, any intentional collective gathering of God’s people, and any ecclesiastical community of any sort  that’s not making disciples, is “not working.”

If we’re not going to chart the church’s mission by disciples being made, then by what other criterion?

Is that too reductionistic, or is it right?

0 thoughts on “What Other Criterion Besides Making Disciples?

  1. Scott says:

    Amen brother! Shared both of these posts with several brothers/sisters and small groups. Some responded in agreement, but there was considerable offense as well. Most have led to good discussions.

    • Miguel says:

      Scott, Thanks for commenting…

      I’m curious, what was the nature of the offenses? What were the concerns?

  2. Rick Knock says:

    Why necessarily assume that small groups are the problem? Even if 90% fail (by whatever metric), perhaps we should ask what is different about the 10% that succeed.

    • Miguel says:

      Hey Rick,

      Good question. I believe as the second article pointed out that there is a “Flawed Starting Point” premise, assumption, etc. That is why I broadened it the way I did at the end. I am trying to get to the original “metrics” in the quote, but it might take a while.

  3. Marshall says:

    I’m sometimes encountering small groups (not cell groups; more like teams of friends) serving together in the making of a disciple, or 2, or more.

    There appear 3 group types from the New Testament writings, πλεθος, συναγογε, εκκλεσια. None of these are established to function into the express purpose of making disciples. However, they all enjoin as an integral portion to assist; they do help put “meat on the bones” in making a disciple/learner of Christ.

    It is primarily beneath fantasies arising from Protestantism and evangelicalism that the small group has been directly tasked with disciple making and/or so-called conversions. Men have assumed a super-context of meetings; of groups; of organization from accounts and admonitions in the New Testament writings. Yet, we ought be cautioned not to presume, such as, “edifying one another” is not so much the same as “making disciples”.

    • Miguel says:

      Couple of good points here and good catch on πλεθος (Plethora) of people. I’m not sure that the point is that small groups have been tasked with making disciples, but that they think they have.

      Interesting that you see a clear distinction between “building others up” and “discipleship.” I’m going to look into that further. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Rob Kampen says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve responded to a blog post here.
    My question is this: What is a disciple?
    Luke 14:25~35 makes a great point to start from – Jesus actually defines what a disciple behaves and looks like, he also clearly outlines the questions that a person has considered and answered in a very specific way, before they can be called a disciple.
    Our job – to go a and make disciples that meet that definition
    having got that straight, now we may begin considering the how question.
    My experience to date indicates that almost any “method” works in the hands of a disciple, because it isn’t the method that’s effective (or not), its the relationship the disciple has with his Father, the world view he has developed by constant immersion in the word and prayer, and thus how he lives, behaves, does and maybe speaks have the impact of drawing others to imitate and join the discipleship life by asking and answering the discipleship lifestyle questions Jesus confronted the 12 disciples with.

    • Miguel says:

      Rob, thanks for commenting…

      Yes, I think bringing clarity to what a disciple is will greatly help us in making them. But, the means by which disciples are made are clear. Going, Teaching, and Baptizing. These are all “participles of means” in the Greek. The manner or means by which a thing is done. In this case, it’s Making Disciples.

      More specifically, Going includes the preaching/transmission/relaying of the Good news or Evangelism. Mark 16:15 in conjunction with Matthew 28:19,20 Teaching is teaching/showing/modeling all things that Jesus commanded. Baptizing or immersing them into the name of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit. It’s really not that difficult.

  5. David Woods says:

    What other criteria? How about healings confirmed & non-confirmed; how about number of dead raised or devils cast out this year/month. “…heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons” “..freely you have recieved, freely give”? There is plenty besides JUST missions that the church should be doing, that’s not being done. And there are ways (such as these) to gauge how they are doing, and whether or not God Himself is actually part of their services, or if they are just giving lip service.

    • Miguel says:

      David, you raise an interesting question:

      What are the things, besides ‘Mission’ that the church should be doing? How would you define ‘Mission’ to make it distinguishable from the rest?

      • David Woods says:

        I think Marshall hit the nail on the head regarding this question for those inside the church; edifying one another-in whatever ways God gives us at the time. As far as distinguishing mission from that, the great commission does it quite nicely, I think:

        …go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

  6. Miguel says:

    Interesting commentary on Facebook regarding this post:

  7. Jim Wright says:

    Thinking that church (i.e., “ekklesia”) automatically leads to disciples is just as delusional as thinking that making disciples automatically leads to church. Both are intentional callings for all believers in the Kingdom of God.

  8. Jonathan says:

    “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis “The Weight of Glory”

    The church situation in the USA shows that we’re far too easily pleased with a method…even if the method has not been proven to work. Year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation, the only thing that changes is the favored method.

    The critical missing components are 1) an ongoing process of evaluation and 2) a willingness to change.

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