Group Discussion

Implementing a Disciple Making Culture

Why develop a culture rather than a strategy or a structure? For many years the church has been developing strategies and programs to help it grow or even maintain. People have fine tuned structures to try and help facilitate growth. Despite all this effort, churches are still shrinking with many getting to a place where they are unsustainable. Congregations are getting older, with less capacity to sustain programs that haven’t changed much for decades. A key reason strategies or structure changes have failed to deliver the desired outcomes is culture, regardless of the strategy or structure. If the culture doesn’t support what is trying to be implemented it will fail, no matter how good the idea is. It helps with people engagement, alignment, motivation and focus.


So why develop a disciple making culture in the 21st century church, hasn’t the church always been about making disciples?


  1. The church overall have lost sight of what discipling is. Most churches understand disciple making as spiritual formation for new Christians, or Bible studies that built up knowledge. Discipling through this approach is almost lost as numbers are falling away, as Bible studies and adult conversions have dropped to nearly zero in many congregations. The church has lost the skills and mindset of making disciples. Even so, discipleship is more than these two specific examples. Jesus is really saying discipleship is from seeking – “come and see”, through following, equipping, training and then sending out.

  2. The context for being the church has changed. Australia is no longer a Christian society. It can no longer be assumed that the average Australian has heard and understood the gospel.  The church in Australia needs to make a shift to be a missionary church rather than a church that sends missionaries.


A shift in the way a church looks at itself is essential for any change of culture to be sustainable. A pattern of behaviour or practices has been set up in western society where Christianity impacts every area of day to day life, traditions, holidays, morals and laws. Religious practices have been shaped by 1700 years of this sort of society. In Jesus ministry there is a shift in worldview happening through His teaching, His ministry, His interactions with people and ultimately in establishing a disciple making movement that changed the world. The church finds itself in a more modern, but similar context today. The need is to make disciples that make disciples that make disciples.


This shift will require a gradual and deliberate course of organisational and personal change. A move from an educational, attraction based framework in the church to a lifestyle of discipleship that can be understood in 5 key shifts as outlined in Jim Putman's book, Disciple Shift.

  1. A shift from reaching out to making disciples

  2. ​A shift from informing to equipping

  3. ​A shift from program to purpose

  4. ​A shift from Ministry to Movement

  5. ​A shift from accumulating to deploying


The process of implementation


This implementation process embraces the principles of the Shiftm2M course offered by Power to Change and applies them to the local context the church is established in. Using the model of Jesus' discipleship multiplication plan, an overall framework can be established to implement the principles He established that can then be applied to a specific context. Shiftm2M identifies 5 different phases in Jesus ministry in developing the disciple making strategy for the New Testament church:


Phase 1. Preparation Period

Phase 2. Ministry Foundations

Phase 3. & 4. Ministry Training & Expanded Outreach (Separate but concurrent)

Phase 5. Leadership Multiplication


Through a layered learning process, Ministers/Pastors, Church leadership teams and congregation members are actively engaged through learning communities including Shiftm2M and workshops to move through the 5 phases to implement a disciple making culture that is unique to each Church's mission context that will make disciples that make disciples that make disciples

Robert is now a facilitator for the nine day Shift m2M and a one day team introduction to the Shift m2M concepts.

Contact Robert to discuss options for your church to implement a Disciple Making Culture