Over the past six months or so, I’ve been co-authoring a book about ministry with Colin Marshall. It’s been, by turns, exhilarating and infuriating, clarifying and frustrating. This is not, I should hasten to add, because Col is difficult to work with. He is in fact one of the wisest, kindest and most godly coots you could ever meet. But all big writing projects have their good days and bad days, and this one has had its share of both. Perhaps it’s because the book really goes to the heart of what Christian ministry is all about, what church life is about, and (for that matter) what Matthias Media is for and why we bother to do what we do. It’s a project that is close to the heart and close to the bone all at the same time.
The book is called The Trellis and the Vine: The ministry mind shift that changes everything, and it’s due to be published in a few months’ time. In the final chapter, we sum up the main argument of the book with ten propositions. By way of a taster, and to promote some discussion, I thought I’d run a slightly adapted version of these ten propositions up the flagpole and see what our SP readers make of them.
So here’s the first of ten propositions about Christian ministry:
1. The goal is to make disciples, not church members.
The measure of how ministry is progressing in your church or fellowship, and the way to evaluate whether you are making progress, is not attendance on Sunday, signed up members, people in small groups, or the size of our budget (as important and valuable as all these things are!). The real test is how successfully you are making disciples who make other disciples. Are we seeing people converted from being dead in their transgressions to being alive in Christ? And once converted, are we seeing them followed-up and established as mature disciples of Jesus? And as they become established, are we training them in knowledge, godliness and skills so that they will in turn make disciples of others?
This is the Great Commission—the making of disciples who obey all that Christ has taught, including the command to make disciples. And this is the touchstone of our faithfulness to Christ’s mission in the world, and the sign of a healthy church: whether or not it is making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.