In ThePlan: Measurable Discipleship, Steve R. Clark identifies the current reality of disciple-making in today’s church along with the frustration and even guilt pastors feel for failing in their obedience to the Great Commission.
Clark, pastor of New Life Authentic Christian Community in Conover, N.C., acknowledges the following: leaders have available a multitude of methods, programs and styles; believers mature at different levels; it’s easy to measure baptisms, numbers of people in classes, classes offered, but they have very little to do with making disciples. In short, “each may measure some results but fails to identify disciples,” resulting in “church members left in the dark about what it means to be a disciple and are given no hint as to what it means to make a disciple.”
Two haunting questions drove Clark to study scripture and the life of Jesus in order to develop a plan that accurately measures a disciple who makes disciples, and a strategy that implements a process to obtain the desired results.
The questions include: What does it mean to make disciples? And, how are disciples made?
Clark gives great clarity to the understanding, application and implementation of ThePlan. For example, “discipleship is one believer living with and teaching another believer how to teach other believers in the Kingdom of God.”
Another example would be, “the Kingdom life is a life that is lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
ThePlan is never completely revealed until chapter 10.
It is tempting to skip immediately to chapter 10, but in doing so you will miss what the Holy Spirit may have to say to you personally in the other chapters.
Clark opens chapter 10 with what he calls “the two actions the church needs to embrace if it is to continue in His Word: comprehension and compliance.”
The first action, comprehension, asks the church to consider what it means to make disciples.
The second action, compliance, involves the church taking a closer look at how disciples are made.
This is followed by an assumption the majority of churches have about disciple-making: “It is clear that the church does not make disciples because it has no way to measure disciples, no way to define the actions that designate a believer as a disciple, and no way to celebrate a person becoming a disciple. Yet rather than solving this perplexing issue of obedience to the Lord’s command, we just assume that as long as a person is baptized and participating in church, he is a disciple of Christ.”
ThePlan explains that disciples are discipled, disciples make disciples, disciples are disciplined, disciples are ministers, and disciples are participants.
In chapter 11, “The Celebration,” Clark explains the steps needed to implement ThePlan.
The reader will find an explanation of the process, the discipleship card given to new converts and those desiring to become a disciple.
In the concluding chapter, Clark paints the following picture: “Imagine a church … where families and individuals practice true discipleship.
Imagine what it would be like if, instead of having to come up with the next great program, disciples were coming to the church with ministry after ministry the Lord was leading them to accomplish.
Imagine what it would be like if discipline came from the congregation rather than the staff.
Imagine people not falling through the cracks or leaving the church without notice.
Imagine the leadership of the church just maintaining the environment of discipleship instead of creating an institution.”
For those desiring to create a disciple-making culture that transforms lives by the power of God, I highly recommend you and your leadership read and discuss this book.
I believe pairing this book with Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger would make an excellent start to this journey.
Clark holds a bachelor’s of business administration degree from Marshall University and a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
He and his wife, Connie, live in Hickory.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Neal E. Eller Jr. is team leader for church health at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. You can reach him at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5636, or at [email protected].)