Discipleship Requires Purpose and Direction

Hal Koss

Quantity of Disciples or Quality of Discipleship?  This was the title of a video that the Gospel Coalition posted on June 13 of this year.

The video is of a roundtable discussion between three pastors that unquestionably exceed me in godliness, intelligence, and ministry experience: Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist Church; D.C.), Matt Chandler (Village Church; Dallas), and James McDonald (Harvest Bible Chapel; Chicago).  The conversation serves as an analysis of the tension that exists between, as Dr. McDonald puts it, “reaching reaching reaching people” and “deeper deeper deeper discipleship.”  All three are quick to agree that the depth of your congregation ought to precede the width; if you take care of the quality, God will take care of the quantity.  

So: discipleship is the job of the local church.  Dever, Chandler, and McDonald all acquiesce to that.

But this video still feels…incomplete.  Discipleship is never fully explained.  The viewer learns that deep discipleship is a good thing that takes precedence over reeling in the masses, but it hardly helps us uncover a clear description of discipleship.  Chandler mentions that discipleship involves believers investing in other believers and helping them walk with Jesus.

He is absolutely correct.

But this definition still lacks clarity.  It gives us purpose, but it doesn’t give us direction.  The viewer is still left asking, “In what way do we invest in other believers and how do we help them walk with Jesus in a way that fulfills the Great Commission?”

Discipleship (as a word) is ubiquitously preached and pumped up at the pulpit, but until discipleship (as a robustly biblical and intelligibly explained ministry focus) is owned and intentionally implemented by the leadership and the congregation, the local church will continue to struggle with the tension between quality and quantity.

Click here to learn what discipleship entails.