Wayne Cordeiro is known for effectively planting hundreds of churches over a long period of years, but in a recent interview with me he said, “I’m learning that Church planting isn’t the goal; discipleship is!  Church planting is actually a byproduct of biblical discipleship.” Everyone needs to let that statement soak in. 

 Cordeiro has shifted his focus from church planting to building up the kind of leaders that can effectively lead a ministry of any kind. He said, “The number one danger in ministry today is undertraining.” When I asked him what he is doing to raise up biblical disciples, he shared with me that his training consists of four parts.

  1. Finding the right leaders who have character, teachability, and potential.
  2. Formal training in his on-site four-year Bible college which includes theology, hermeneutics, character building, and much more.
  3. Organic face-to-face discipleship, which includes spending time together, small groups, daily devotions, journaling, mentoring, and ongoing assessment.
  4. Interns do the actual work of ministry and are then evaluated in what they do, how they do it, and the way they resolve problems. He said, “Someone asked me what I look for in young leaders. Was it skill? Competence? My answer was ‘I look at how they think. That is where it all begins.’”

Cordeiro isn’t alone in his passion for better training. Every effective church planter I’ve talked with focuses on discipleship training. The potential church planters at Ralph Moore’s church in Honolulu are involved in their small groups and training for five to seven years before they plant. Brian Bolt at City Reach Church has a year-long training school. And the list goes on.

We are learning that the heart of any future multiplication or revitalization movement in the West will begin with a re-evaluation of the importance of biblical discipleship so that nominal Christians can be transformed into followers of Jesus who make disciples. Our churches are full of nominal Christians who act more like consumers than servants. It’s time we acknowledge that fact and start raising up disciples who will take Jesus seriously and go and make disciples. That’s the only way to win back the West.

Question: What are some key elements you’ve discovered to effective discipleship training? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.