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08 Oct '13

Apps and operating systems: Why disciplemaking programs often fail in the church

Posted by T.J. Addington in disciplemaking, discipleship
We all know the mandate of Jesus to go and make disciples. We also know that in general the church has done a poor job of helping people become genuine followers of Jesus. We are great at acculturating people into our evangelical subcultures but not so great in seeing real life transformation take place that looks like what Jesus and the New Testament describes.

I define a disciple as one who understands grace and extends it to others, who thinks like Jesus thinks and then aligns his/her priorities with those of Him and who see people as He sees them and loves them as He loves them. It is transformation of hearts, minds, lifestyle and relationships.

The question is, why does this not happen more often? We have to acknowledge that transformation is not easy and is always a work of the Holy Spirit with our cooperation. Life toward Jesus is a journey of a lifetime.

However, I believe there is another issue that short circuits the process. As people who have a program for everything we often design programs for disciplemaking - like an App that we download for our I Pad or cell phone. Then we ask people to buy the App (get involved) and put them through our process hoping they will come out the other side a better disciple.

The problem is that disciplemaking can never be related to an App or program. Rather it must be built into the fabric of our operating system as a church. Everything we do should be intentionally designed to help people move toward transformation of heart, mind, lifestyle and relationships. No ministry is exempt. No program can make disciples but the church can if it is woven into everything we do.

Ask yourself this question. What are the specific ways that everything you do in the church is designed to make true disciples? Do you believe that your design is working well and can you point to tangible results? Would you describe your strategy as more of an App or more of an operating system? Finally, would your people know how you define a mature disciple?