Every church needs a plan to disciple its congregation. You need a plan to take people from “come and see” to “come and die”—which is where Jesus took His disciples during His earthly ministry. For most of the history of the church, that discipleship plan was simply called a catechism. It’s not a new idea.
It doesn’t have to based on our Purpose Driven plan. But you need a plan.
Just don’t do it all at once. Take it slow. I see new church planters make the mistake all time. Often, they visit a church like Saddleback, see what God is doing and want to apply everything to their own context immediately! That’s a disaster in the making.
They forget—Saddleback wasn’t built in a day! It has taken us 32 years to get to where we are now. We’ve made lots of mistakes throughout the years. If you try to do everything we’re doing in year one of a church plant, you’ll fail—and people will get hurt in the process. You can’t build a mature church in a year.
So how do you develop a discipleship plan in your church plant that takes people you’re reaching from “come-and-see” to “come-and-die” without killing your church in the process?
Take it slow. Here’s how we did it at Saddleback.
It’s a journey that’s taken us 32 years! You won’t get there in a year or five years. You may read about church plants that grow from zero to 6,000 in two years. It’s not real growth though. You can’t grow like that in a natural way. They’re bringing in sheep from other churches.
I can show you how to grow a great church—but I can’t show you how to do it quickly! It takes time. Your church won’t be built overnight.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.