The following is an excerpt from Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. The book comes out July 28, but if you order it before then, you’ll get a free eBook (Sending Capacity, not Seating Capacity) and 2 video sessions from our recent Gospel Summit.
Many skills make for effective ministry, but there is one without which everything else we do is useless. That one thing: make disciples. Apart from that, all the money we raise, buildings we build, ministries we organize, sermons we preach and songs we write don’t move the mission forward. Without that one thing, we fail.
Everything else we do is ultimately in support of that one thing. Disciple-making was the central component of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19), and it ought to be the standard by which we should judge every ministry in the church. In his classic book The Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman said,
The great commission is not merely to go to the ends of the earth preaching the gospel, nor to baptize a lot of converts into the Name of the Triune God, nor to teach them the precepts of Christ, but to “make disciples”—to build men like themselves who were so constrained by the commission of Christ that they not only followed Jesus themselves, but led others to follow him, too.
The criteria upon which any church should measure its success is not how many new names are added to the roll nor how much the budget is increased, but rather how many Christians are actively winning souls and training them to win the multitudes.
Kevin Ezell, President of the North American Mission Board (the domestic church planting arm of the SBC), said that the greatest obstacle to planting churches today is not a lack of funds, but a lack of qualified planters. Southern Baptists claim 16 million adherents in 42,000 churches, and we have a problem finding 500 qualified planters? Only 1 of every 320,000 Southern Baptists —1 planter out of every 840 churches—needs to become a church planter in order to have more planters than we can support. How are we not producing even that many?