How Can We Measure Disciple Making?

5017572477_7224d3f476_bIn another Facebook conversation, a pastor quite correctly observed that it is very difficult to measure “making disciples” – so we default to counting “warm bottoms in pews.” And that the conversation on “making disciples” will be frustrating until we can find additional ways to identify disciples being made.

My response was to offer the following checklist as a method for measuring disciples. This assumes that, if we grow as disciples, we can break that growth down into stages of maturity, and create checklists for each stage.

Is it fair to measure growth with a checklist? While all human beings are unique, they also share many common realities which can be measured without denying them their uniqueness.

Is it biblical to measure people? If there is a process where the disciples move through stages in the gospels, you will find verses in the gospels identifying the characteristics for the various stages.

Stage 1: worship & fellowship – building relationships
___Are they involved in public worship this week?
___Are they involved in a fellowship group this month?
___Do they have a daily “quiet time” where they renew their commitment to God and to Jesus and Savior and Lord?

Stage 2: are they learning?
___Are they present in a Sunday School Class this week?
___How many chapters did they read in the Bible this week?
___Are they in a bible study this week? (something more challenging than Sunday School)
___Do they journal on what they are learning each week?

Stage 3: are they serving? (self-denial = take up cross)
___Do they understand how they are called & gifted to serve? How?
___Are they serving in some way INSIDE the church this week? How?
___Are they serving in some way OUTSIDE the church this week (missional service in the community)? How?
___Are they serving financially? (sacrificial giving/tithe/percentage giving)

Stage 4: are they mentoring? (Disciple makers are mentors)
___Did they notice and show love to their neighbors? How?
___Can they identify specific people that they watch over? Who?
___What did they do this week to bring their people into worship?
___What did they do this week to bring their people into fellowship?
___What did they do this week to bring their people into serving others?

Stage 5: are they mentoring the mentors?
What did they do this week to help those they mentor:
___- notice their neighbors and show love to them?
___- identify people that they could mentor?
___- begin to mentor their people through the stages?
___- assist their people in the task of mentoring their people?

For centuries, most of institutional churches have focused on Stages 1 & 2 – we’re now moving to prioritize Stage 3. We’ve yet to seriously consider stage 4 or 5, but the end result of the great commission isn’t a disciple, or an “improved disciple” – Matthew 28:20 cannot be fulfilled until a disciple also makes disciples (v. 19) and then mentors them to the point where their new disciple also becomes a disciple maker (v. 20).

Implementing this in a church – two basic tasks:
1. Make sure that something is happening in each church to meet the needs of each stage
2. that someone is in charge of observing and then helping each person transition to the next stage when they are ready.

Would you add items to a stage? Edit items? Remove items? Why?


Measuring progress in discipleship was a focus of my 2008 Fuller DMin project, which is online at the Resources Page at You can download Seminar 1: Diagnosis and “MODULE FOUR: THE GREAT COMMISSION CYCLE” begins the topic on page 30. “Section 4. Developmental Spirituality” begins the discussion of stages on page 34-41.

This subject is the primary topic of my online class at entitled “Disciple Making 101” – it’s offered three times a year and the cost is only $20.  –

And there is a book version of the online class:

People familiar with Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and/or the Saddleback Baseball diamond metaphor will note that the stages listed here closely correspond to the Five Purposes.

The following sermon presentations, with slides, are also available for download:

FISH – the four stages are described with an acronym:  Fellowship, Interest, Serving, Harvest. This sermon series can be viewed here:

08-12-12 Fishing for People: A Method of Prevenient Grace

8-19-12 Interesting People: Schools of Fish – Acts 2:41-42, 5:12, Mat 28:20, John 14:26 

8-26-12 The Rite of Passage: Schools of Fish on a Field Trip

9-2-12 Mending People, Sending People – Mark 8:31-38, Eph 4:11-14, I Cor 12

9-9-12 Tending People: The Ministry of Prevenient Grace.- Matt 9:9-13, 9:35-10:1, Lk 15

THE PRAYER TOOL – These two sermons present the Prayer Tool, which is the method of mentoring to make disciples.

Thanks to SierraTierra for the photo, courtesy of the Creative Commons license.

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