Quantity or Quality?
When it comes to making disciples in obedience to Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28, the goal must be both — more disciples and better disciples.
Some churches think they are choosing to focus on quality and emphasize discipleship programs that take months to complete. They include high levels of content delivery requiring the “disciple” to know the majority of themes and teaching in the Bible.
Other churches focus on quality by emphasizing character development and spiritual disciplines. Discipleship is defined by your commitment to habits of spiritual growth.
Yet still other churches focus on quantity and their goal is to get people “saved” and enrolled in a 4 or 6 week discipleship class. Once you complete the class you are now equipped to live the Christian life.
What’s most important?
Quality is Important
Should churches focus “on the depth and let God take care of the breadth”?
I think there is a fallacy in this approach. It assumes that those who are growing deeper in their knowledge of God’s Word are actually growing in their obedience. This isn’t necessarily true.
You’ve probably heard it said: “Too many Christians are educated beyond their level of obedience.”
Even Jesus asked, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I say?”
Obedience isn’t a result of knowledge. Obedience is a result choosing to obey. But quality is not measured by knowledge. The quality of a church’s disciples is measured by their obedience to what Jesus says. Disciples who are not making disciples are not obedient followers.
If a church isn’t training disciples to make disciples, the quality of their discipleship will suffer. This is a both/and proposition — quality is a result of knowledge + obedience.
Quantity is Important
Some people think “God loves small churches since He made so many of them.”
I don’t think this is necessarily true. I think a lot of small churches are failing to reproduce any followers of Jesus. That’s why they stay small.
Jesus sent His disciples to make disciples who make disciples. If your church isn’t training up disciplemakers who are going, baptizing and teaching, then it’s likely that your church isn’t growing numerically.
Don’t be satisfied with the notion that Christians in your church are growing deeper without reproducing.
Growing disciples make disciples who make disciples.
Churches that aren’t growing are likely not training anyone to make disciples who make disciples. (Note: This isn’t always the case, but it certainly is worth checking to see if the disciplemaking engine actually works.)
Quality and Quantity are Both Important
It’s not enough to be helping Christians grow deeper in knowledge.
It’s not enough to be getting people “saved” and rushing them through a discipleship program.
The focus must be more and better disciples!