When churches don’t make disciples

“If you make disciples, you always get the church.  But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.”

 – Mike Breen

What do you think about that quote?  Is it right?

The first part I think most Christians would agree with.  It’s pretty straightforward.  Disciples are followers of Jesus, and when you have a group of disciples in a community striving together for the mission of God, that’s pretty much the baseline for what we would call a church.  Simplistic, yes.  But for the sake of Breen’s larger point, let’s say that’s a church.

What about his second phrase?  Why would he say that if you make a church, then, you rarely get disciples?

Maybe he is just talking about the physical bricks-and-mortar buildings we call churches.  That could be easy to grasp, because if you erect a church edifice, you might have a meeting place, but there is no guarantee that you’ll get disciples.  But I suspect that while he may be referring to buildings, he is probably referring to more church-y kinds of things as well.

Maybe, then, he is talking about church programs or worship services or paid ministry professionals.  Maybe he is saying that we can create those structures, and we’ll have events and ministries that look and feel a lot like church has looked and felt in recent decades, and even then we might not get disciples.

Is that possible?  Could it be that much of what we call church is not making disciples of Jesus?  How does your church make disciples?

Better yet, how did Jesus make disciples?


This Sunday at Faith Church (there I go talking about a building) during worship (there I go talking about a program), we’re going to look at Luke’s first description of Jesus’ interaction with the men who would become his disciples. He nearly sinks their boat!

You can read ahead in Luke 5:1-11.  I think you’ll find it eye-opening!

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

4 thoughts on “When churches don’t make disciples

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