Disciple-making: The one thing that helps ministries grow
For 65 years, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has helped coaches and athletes grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ—and helped lead others to do the same. Engaging disciples who make disciples is a huge part of what FCA is all about.
There’s one thing that growing ministries need to be healthy, and without it, the mission will be dead. It trumps buildings, locations and staff, and it has nothing to do with how much money is in the bank. It’s the secret sauce of the early church, and it’s the key feature of faith communities that Jesus envisioned for every generation. What is the one thing every ministry needs to grow? Disciple-makers.
But what is a disciple-maker? A disciple-maker is someone who looks outward to help people pursue God. A disciple-maker lives with purpose and answers the call Jesus issued through the Great Commission, a charge given 2,000 years ago to His original disciples. A disciple-maker realizes the greatest thing a person can do in life is pursue God, and the second-greatest thing a person can do is help someone else pursue God.
This is what we’re all called to do! We are called to take Christ’s love into the places we go. And a ministry full of disciple-makers is what Jesus envisions for FCA.
A modern tech giant perfectly illustrates the viral model of disciple-making.
When Google first entered the online playing field in 1996, it was nothing compared to the mega business of Yahoo. Yahoo was the search engine of choice. Do you remember how it worked? Yahoo was a destination website; you went to Yahoo.com to find information. Remember the commercials? Yahooooo!
Google had a different idea. Instead of creating a destination, it created a service. Instead of forcing users to come through its portal site, it distributed itself throughout the web. Its strategy was to freely embed itself everywhere, opening and gifting its code to the world. While Yahoo was forcing the world to come to it, Google was going out, taking its product into the world.
The strategy paid off, and the company grew. By 2013, Google had a market capitalization 10 times higher than its competition at Yahoo. In that same year, Google reported revenues of $59 billion, compared to Yahoo’s $4.6 billion.
While Yahoo spent millions in marketing and paid ads meant to draw customers to its site, Google quietly embedded itself on the web.
Google’s strategy is the model Jesus envisioned when He commanded us to “go into the world and make disciples.”
In Ephesians 4, Paul paints a picture of how a healthy ministry functions with simple clarity: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT).
Did you catch what Paul is saying? These verses are about strategy. Like a great coach, Paul distributed job descriptions for everyone in the church, and it started with ministry leaders equipping and empowering God’s people to do the work of ministry. It’s our charge to build up the body of Christ and to make more disciples.
Specifically for FCA, this means we rally around coaches and athletes under the simple vision to get everyone “in the game” and share Christ.
Everyone who is pursuing God can be a disciple-maker. That’s the strategy of Jesus. And it’s the one thing every ministry needs to grow and fulfill its vision.
Bryan Dwyer is the pastor and founder of pursueGOD.org, an international, online discipleship library. He spends his time building a network of disciple-makers around the world and authored this article for aFellowship of Christian Athletes publication.