How To Become A Disciple-Making Church

What This One Bible Verse Says Has The Power To Transform Your Church

Most churches in the United States are declining or dying. While there are a variety of reasons, the simple explanation is that many churches are not proclaiming the gospel or making disciples.

DM Church

Thankfully, the Bible gives us ample instruction and encouragement to become powerful witnesses and grow our churches once again. In fact, there’s one verse that sums up what it will take to become a disciple-making church:

Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:42)

Before we see how this verse equips local churches to become disciple-making churches, let’s look at what led up to this moment in the early church:

  • Peter and John had already been arrested once for “proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (see chapter 4)
  • When they were released, the church gathered and prayed for even more boldness to proclaim the good news.
  • Again, the apostles were thrown into prison. However, the apostles couldn’t be held by the prison. Instead, the jailers found them in the temple complex “teaching the people” (Acts 5:25).
  • One of the religious leaders named Gamaliel realizes that “if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)
  • So the apostles are flogged, ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, and released.
  • What do they do? Acts 5:41 says, “Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name.”

In short, the church in Jerusalem was facing persecution but rather than quit, they continued to joyfully and boldly proclaim the name of Jesus.

So now that we know what the early church was up against, what do they do next?

They do exactly what our churches need to do if we are going to grow and reproduce. Despite severe internal and external threats, the apostles demonstrated and taught what it means to be a disciple-making church.

Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:42)

If we are going to follow their example and become a disciple-making church, then we will proclaim the gospel every day, everywhere, to everyone.

I. Disciple-Making Churches Proclaim the Gospel Every Day

“Every day…

In a disciple-making church, being a witness to the resurrection of Jesus in the power of the Spirit is a daily joy.

In declining and dying churches, witnessing is something the pastor maybe does on Tuesday nights because it’s in the job description.

Disciple-making churches understand that proclaiming the good news continually is simple obedience to God’s command. 

Even when they were threatened not to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles told their persecutors:

We must obey God rather than menThe God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:29-32)

Did you get that?

These disciples understood that opening their mouths to proclaim the gospel was obedience.

Keeping their mouths shut and keeping Jesus to themselves was disobedience.

And by the way, this wasn’t servant evangelism or relationship evangelism or event evangelism.

This was evangelism evangelism.

The kind where you tell someone who is going to hell that they are going to hell if they don’t repent. The kind where you exalt Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life and graciously but boldly explain that there is no other means of salvation but to believe in Christ alone!

And the disciples did this every. single. day.

Churches are welcome to rent bouncy houses and drop eggs from helicopters and receive awards from their community for their good behavior.

But if your church is going to become a disciple-making church you will need to proclaim the gospel constantly even if that means you make a few enemies along the way.

II. Disciple-Making Churches Proclaim the Gospel Everywhere

in the temple complex, 

The “temple complex” shouldn’t be equated with our modern “church facility”. There really aren’t that many similarities.

The temple complex was a public space for all kinds of activity. It was a place for religious observance as well as buying and selling and meeting and conversing.

The temple complex was the water cooler just as much as it was the worship center.

In other words, by going to the temple complex, the disciples were taking it to the people!

In the same way, your church must be willing to go to the public spaces: the cafés, the parks, the playgrounds. Your church must mobilize your members to proclaim the good news at their office, at the gym, and everywhere they go.

We often forget that the word “go” in Matthew 28:18-20 has a continual aspect. We know we are to make disciples of all nations, but the sense of the participle is “As you are going, make disciples of all nations…”

So, disciple-making churches are filled with members who proclaim the good news everywhere they go!

and in various homes…

Everywhere includes our own homes.

How often do we open our homes to believers and unbelievers? How often can we be found in the homes of others?

The disciples knew that they could have deeper conversations about the gospel in a more intimate setting.

If our churches are going to be disciple-making churches, we must recover the art and delight of hospitality. We need to have gospel conversations with unbelievers at our dinner table…and theirs! We need to enjoy deep fellowship with our brothers and sisters in our own living rooms…and theirs!

Whether it’s in public or in private, proclaiming the gospel is something we are to do everywhere we go.

III. Disciple-Making Churches Proclaim the Gospel to Everyone

they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”

The apostles “continued teaching and proclaiming” to people who were receptive or not. To Pharisees and fisherman. To Sadducees and servants. To rich and poor.

The context of this verse reminds us that the apostles had just been flogged and told NOT to continue teaching and proclaiming. It didn’t matter. They felt compelled to preach the good news to anyone and everyone. Whether they would listen or not.

I get the approach some churches take to target one people group or affinity group.

But I think that is the exception and not the rule. If you believe your church is called to reach a narrowly defined segment of a population (i.e. “hipsters”, or “cowboys”, or “Bengalis”) then I trust you have a clear calling about that.

In general, though, it seems the church is meant to be made up of people from different ages and experiences and backgrounds who are brought together in fellowship by the love and the blood of Jesus.

Imagine hipsters and cowboys experiencing fellowship with one another along with grandparents and grandkids all in the same church.

I have the privilege of planting a church in a very diverse community. There are 100,000 people within a one-mile radius of our church and approximately 20,000 of them are from unreached people groups. Nearly half the population is foreign-born.

I have often said, It’s not necessary for our church to “look like heaven”, I just want it to look like our parks and our public schools.

In heaven there will be people from every tribe, tongue, language, and nation. We are, at the very least, responsible for the tribes in our own neighborhoods. My neighborhood has dozens of tribes. Yours might just have a few. Either way, let’s use every means available to us to reach every person with the good news that Jesus is the Messiah!

Your church probably has a lot of unique challenges when it comes to evangelizing your community. But our challenges pale in comparison to the flogging and persecution the early church and the global church face. Let’s provoke our church members to deeper commitment. To radical obedience.

If you are a pastor or church leader, I want to encourage you to talk about making disciples so much that people either get sick of it and leave or get stoked by it and learn how.

If we are going to become disciple-making churches for the glory of God, we need to be ready to proclaim the good news that Jesus is the Messiah every day, everywhere, to everyone.

Consider sharing this on Facebook…

Or on Twitter…

Nathan is the pastor of City Life Church in Ridgewood, NY. He and his family are committed to making and multiplying disciples in the most diverse county in the US. Read more about Nathan here. Visit the City Life Church website here.

Become a Patron!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.