It’s a (common) slippery slope: A person makes the decision to become a follower of Christ, so we assume they will start living the life of a disciple.

“Well, that was easy,” we think contentedly.

But a decision and discipleship aren’t mutually inclusive. Larry Osborne’s eBook Mission Creep puts an incredibly fine point on the very nebulous – and very common – misguided shift in focus churches have made from making disciples to simply getting decisions.

“The problem isn’t helping people come to a decision to follow Christ. That’s a good thing. The problem comes when we equate a decision with a disciple...”

“The problem isn’t helping people come to a decision to follow Christ. That’s a good thing. The problem comes when we equate a decision with a disciple. When we begin to count everyone who expresses a desire to follow Christ, says a prayer, or walks the aisle to be genuine converts, we walk away thinking that we’ve hit the evangelistic bull’s-eye even when very few of those decisions actually produce a disciple.“

So how can we make the distinction to know if we’re making disciples or simply celebrating decisions? If you want to make sure that every decision that’s made starts a journey of discipleship, here are four things you can do:

1. Connect

Many people are attendees, but few are true disciples. And you can only influence what you know – so you need to connect with people intimately through personal conversations to know where they are now so you’ll know where they need to go.

2. Grow

Once you to truly know your members and can structure your staff to facilitate their spiritual growth, you can create a personalized growth plan. With a genuine connection, you’ll know what resources and tools you’ll need to track them through their discipleship process.

3. Mentor

Intentional disciples can only be created through one-on-one mentoring and relationships. If Jesus never discipled people as a group, neither should we. There is no shortcut for creating disciples; time invested at the individual level now will yield great discipleship returns tomorrow.

4. Invest

Love rolls downhill. If you care for your leaders who care for other leaders who in turn care for the flock entrusted to them, you create a harmonious distribution of the workload of ministry, nurture equipped leaders who equip others, and create a disciple-multiplying church.

There is no shortcut for creating disciples; time invested at the individual level now will yield great discipleship returns tomorrow.

While these four steps will ask a lot of your time upfront – and it’s hard to imagine finding more time to add another thing to our plates – creating a disciple-multiplying church that converts “decisions” into “disciples” should be at the very top of your priorities as a means to create lifelong believers and followers of Christ.

There's always a next step:

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