Why You Can’t Make Disciples In a Meeting

Meetings don’t make disciples, people do. Disciple making happens life on life.

We have a tendency to revert to old ways of thinking, even as we pursue a Disciple Making Movement. Christianity has become very meeting and event-oriented.

Discipleship is so much more than a weekly meeting! To make disciples who will make disciples, you must be willing to invest in deep relationships with those you train. You will need to practice life on life discipleship.

Jesus Invested Well

Jesus didn’t train disciples in a weekly meeting. He lived His life in close daily relationships with a group of twelve. He trained and invested in them. If we want to see movements, we must shift our understanding of discipleship away from meetings and toward relationships.

Discovery Bible Study and T4T groups are wonderful. They will not produce disciple makers, however, without an investment in the lives of those who attend. Once a week for an hour isn’t enough time to see disciples mature, grow, and learn how to follow Jesus and reach others.

A Complete Failure

I thought about telling a story of someone I discipled life on life and the amazing impact they had on others. Instead, I’d like to share an example of when I didn’t do life on life discipleship and its sad results.

He was the younger brother of the woman who worked in our home. As you may know, in Asia, it is quite inexpensive to hire people to come into your home and help with the cleaning or cooking. We have so appreciated the women who have served us in this way and grown close to them.

One of our bahinis (younger sister) had a younger brother who was not yet a believer. He was newly married. When his wife had a miscarriage, our houseworker asked us to go and visit them. Always looking for a chance to share the gospel and minister, I quickly agreed. We arranged a time.

They were open and received the prayer and counsel I offered in this time of grief. After a few visits, as I shared the good news and hope of Jesus, they accepted Christ as their Savior. I was happy and excited!

I started meeting with them regularly to study the Word and teach them to obey the commands of Jesus. Before long, they were baptized.

At that particular time in my life I had a lot going on. I was busy with travel, leadership responsibilities, and running training programs for our staff. It was hard to find time even to meet with them weekly to study the Word or do a Discovery group. I met with them a few times, then decided to encourage them to attend a local church every week. Checking in with my houseworker on how they were doing once in a while, I stayed somewhat aware.

My ability to invest more was very limited. “They are attending a church. They will learn and grow and be fine,” I thought. My pattern was to only visit them when there was a crisis or problem. Hearing that the young man and his wife were having marriage struggles, I went to see them.

Again, they were responsive to my help and input. They longed to be discipled…but I didn’t have time to invest.

Several years later, after kind of losing track of them, I heard from my houseworker that they had returned to Hinduism. I was sad and challenged to hear this. I’d led them to faith, but then not been willing or able to disciple. My many other ministry activities had taken me away from doing what Jesus commanded me to do “make disciples of all.”

Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations…”

Matt 28:18-20

What Does It Take to Make Disciple Makers?

1. Making disciple makers means developing close relationships.

We know that building deep relationships of trust doesn’t happen in a day. It takes time and consistent investment to build trust with those you are discipling. That is why this can not happen only in a meeting. It also can’t happen with more than about twelve to fifteen people at once. (For most, it’s more like three to five people.) The very nature of discipleship demands that we multiply and train those we disciple so they can do the same with others.

How often do you engage casually (outside of the weekly meeting) with those you are training as disciple makers?

2. Making disciple makers is about both quality and quantity.

You can’t separate these two things. It’s not either/or, but both/and. We need to invest quality time in the few we focus on and disciple. We also must invest a significant amount of time. This takes a commitment that is beyond what we see in traditional church settings. Yet it bears much fruit.

What could you stop doing in your life to make room for investing more quality and quantity time in those who you are training?

3. Making disciple makers means taking people with you.

In a recent blog, I wrote about M-A-W-L, Model, Assist, Watch and Leave. You need to be willing to take those you are training with you. Show them how to share their faith, talk with lost people, pray, heal the sick, baptize, and many other disciple making activities. Many DMM principles and practices are more caught than taught. Show them. Demonstrate. This is how Jesus trained His disciples.

4. Making disciple makers means you must be focused and stop other things.

It does indeed take a real commitment to obey Jesus’ command to “make disciples” and “teach them to obey.” This requires us to be focused in a greater way than we are used to. You will have to say no to some things in your life to say yes to this. It’s well worth it though!

5. Making disciple makers is a huge investment, but is incredibly fruitful.

While the commitment is no small thing, there is no more fruitful ministry you could do than multiplying disciples! As you do life on life discipleship and teach those disciples to also become trainers of others, you will see the movement grow. The joy of watching those you’ve trained bearing fruit and even do greater things than what you have done is incredible.

It’s also part of following the way of the Master. Jesus said to his disciples, “You will do greater works than I have done…” (John 14:12).

It’s More Than a Meeting

Who are you investing in life on life discipleship with? Maybe you have looked at discipleship as something that happens in a weekly meeting, be it a Sunday service or Wednesday Bible study group. These things have value, but alone, they won’t produce disciples. Make a commitment today to make disciples, not converts or church members. Train your disciples to do the same and you’ll be on your way to seeing a movement.

Find out more about how to make disciples and start a DMM in my Online Course. Registration opens again on June 10th. Sign up below to be notified when it opens.


  1. Henry

    A million thanks for this. This is exactly where I have been “missing it.” Doing lots of Bible study meetings with little life on life investments. I cannot thank you enough for the “wake-up” call

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