How to Recruit a 2nd Disciple-Maker In Your Church
Updated: Sep 27
Ever had this experience? Right before you lead a worship service, someone comes rushing up to you, and says breathlessly, “Pastor, Sally Jo’s sister is having a birthday party for her 2nd cousin’s little girl’s cat. It’s this Saturday from 2-4, and everyone is invited. The theme is ‘space cats’ and so just announce that everyone needs to wear Star Wars outfits and bring soft drinks without aspartame. It’s gonna be so great! Can you announce this for me?”
Sometimes, Pastors get "Promotion Exhaustion"
You have many things you must promote as a pastor... There are 1,000 different events and materials and priorities. Missions, denominational events, current social issues, upcoming membership classes, and Aunt Gertrude’s GoFundMe campaign to cover her mounting expenses for ingrown toenail surgery.
Yes, I’m exaggerating. (But not too much!)
Here’s a huge reality for pastors: You only have so much promotion in you. If you are not careful with it, your “promotion reservoir” will run dry, or you may only have a tiny bit left for promoting something that’s truly mission critical: discipleship.
Even if it doesn’t completely run dry, we tend to give our best, highest energy to things other than discipleship!
Here’s part of the solution:
You need another disciple-maker; a champion to help promote discipleship in your church.
What is a second disciple-maker?
A discipleship champion is someone who commits to raising up the value of discipleship, helping lend their voice and influence to promoting it within your church.
If you’ve got to change a church culture, you must have someone who will help cultivate the values in conversation with your people and embody the imagination of a new future … and is willing to promote and talk about it often.
You could have them:
Be a guest at a board meeting
Network with board members outside of meetings
share a testimony
Have strategic conversations each Sunday
That’s a champion!
Why do you need another disciple maker?
1. To give you strength in numbers. It’s true spiritually – but it’s also true in terms of leadership.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
2. To give you an emotional break.
Some weeks, you are taken up by making sure that you crush the announcement for the upcoming missions offering, and you need someone else to be a champion for discipleship. You need someone to say it with passion and freshness, either up front during announcements, or in the foyer over coffee.
3. To give your people a break from you.
Sometimes people will tune out your voice. They “turn down” your influence in their mind. This is natural, and isn’t necessarily a mark of a spiritual problem or dislike of you. It can be for a variety of reasons, including just “Well, that’s a pastor. He’s supposed to say that!”
But discipleship is so important that people need to hear it from a fresh voice, slipping past their apathy and defenses, calling them to deeper commitment to the Great Commission.
How to recruit another disciple maker:
1. Identify a discipleship champion if there already is one.
Is there someone who is already passionate about discipleship? Maybe they’ve been championing that cause to you.
This might be someone who has complained, or expressed concern or interest about discipleship or seriousness, or spiritual growth. So, if you have someone who has said, “I feel like people in our church really need to grow spiritually more, or I just feel like we're not doing as much as we could with discipling people.” They might not even use those words, just talk about how they’re disturbed that people aren’t “deeper” or “serious.”
Here’s a point of advice: Don’t take that kind of conversation and get really insecure about it.
What if it isn’t a personal attack against you? What if they are actually telling you that they are willing to be a champion for something that you actually both agree is important?
I’ve felt the pull of this one, for sure. I’m tempted to hear this kind of statement as an attack, and feel like I’ve got to personally do something (everything) about it. So we just work harder and more stressed, juggling more china plates than ever.
But if you think about it, buried in criticism like this are some things that are actually true. So what if you said, “That is such a great point! I really think that you're onto something. Would you help me champion that topic within our church? Would you be willing to give that a boost and talk about that regularly? In fact, can I buy your lunch next week or later on this week? Let's talk about this, because I've got some great ideas about it that I haven’t had time to pursue.”
A couple more notes about identifying a champion:
Be careful about putting a complainer or a bad attitude on the team.
A champion is most powerful if they are well-liked or already have influence.
Champions are powerful if they embody the values they’re promoting.
It’s very possible that you’ll still have to meet regularly with a champion to mentor them so that they grow in their ability to lead/influence.
2. If there isn’t one, then build one.
If you have someone that has gotten saved and is enthusiastic about following Christ, then build your very own discipleship champion. What if you asked that person to go through NewStart Discipleship Journal with you, then asked them to do some of these over the next 6 months:
Take someone else through it
Give a testimony on Sunday morning
Record a video testimony to share on social media
Be a guest in the church board meeting to talk about the need for discipleship
Post on the church Facebook page about how God is helping them in discipleship
Take a board member out for lunch once per week/month, to promote discipleship
“Tap someone on the shoulder” every Sunday morning and talk discipleship
Sounds like a discipleship champion to me!
3. Pray in a discipleship champion.
“I don't have anybody like that right now.” Okay. In that case, we know where we need to start. We need to start asking the Lord of the harvest to “send forth laborers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:38)
Pray that somebody gets a fire lit under them for the mission of being a disciple maker. While you're praying, don't be afraid to answer your own prayers! Start talking about discipleship to people. Start preaching about it – and see whose eyes light up.
4. Go find a discipleship champion.
Possible ways you can find one:
If you want to disciples somebody, go share the Gospel with somebody. Remember: Action Trumps Everything!
Invite someone from outside your church to do a weekend revival or seminar or workshop on discipleship.
Once you get some outside voices coming in, you can frequently see someone start to light up about it. Don’t ignore that – often, it’s the power of the Holy Spirit energizing someone for a good work.
5. Get Clear On Your Process
I know we talked extensively about this in earlier chapters, but when we get to this stage, it becomes clear why it’s important.
You must “clarify the win.” Sometimes, people are reluctant to do something if they don’t know what a clear “win” looks like. So start clarifying what “winning” looks like according to the Great Commission, and tell your potential champion exactly what your strategy is for accomplishing that.
The easiest and quickest solution to creating this clear pathway is to adopt a discipleship pathway from an author or organization that has already done the thinking.
Solution: Find a partner to promote and give clear discipleship plans. If you’re not subscribed to NewStart Discipleship, you might want to check it out: http://get.newstartdiscipleship.com
This is taken from my discipleship coaching program "Getting Started With Discipleship."