Churches are Doing Much and Accomplishing Little

Missional Leadership

It’s A.D. 51 and a month or two ago the Apostle Paul had planted the church in Thessalonica. Now he’s in Corinth and he pens 1 Thessalonians to encourage the saints in their new faith in Christ. What this means is that when we look at 1 Thessalonians, we are looking at what Paul, master church planter and discipler of men, wrote as new-believer follow-up.

Jesus Washing the Feet of One of His Disciples

Just that much suggests to me that an intensive, long-term study of 1 (and 2) Thessalonians would do wonders in changing our perspective on how to grow the saints in Christ. So, toward that end, here’s a couple of ideas to begin the process. In multiple readings answer the following questions:

  1. Make a list of all the things Paul refers to as having taught them in his three week church planting stop. How does your list compare to the typical new-believer followup in your church?
  2. How prominent is the second coming of Christ in the new believer follow-up of Paul?
  3. How important is affliction and suffering in Paul’s teaching? Do we teach new believers about suffering? Why not?
  4. How does Paul “raise the bar” of expectations on what it means to be a follower of Christ?

You’ll come up with your own questions but I believe that starting with something like these will give you a good feel for how to produce a discipleship process that is more productive in raising up the kind of disciples that the church needs in this age.

As I consult with pastors and church planters, a consistent problem is that churches are doing much and achieving little in terms of rapid deployment of spiritually mature, multiplying disciples. Church after church (established or otherwise) and planter after planter have no Process of Ministry. I am preparing to write more on this in the near future but for now, here’s a path for a better discipleship process.

Answer these questions:

  • What does a new believer need to know to grow?
  • Is that different from any believer?
  • What does a new believer need to do to grow?
  • Is that different from any believer?
  • Are my answers to those questions biblical or traditional (or inherited, or denominational, …)
Revised and adapted from an earlier post.
Marty Schoenleber, Jr. is the founding pastor of one church, the present pastor of a multi-site church and the church planting trainer/mentor of over 200 other church planting pastors. He is adjunct professor of Church Planting at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and has taught Preaching at the International School of Theology, and Evangelism at Moody Graduate School of Theology. He is also the Director of the Saint John’s Pastoral Center, a pastoral care and retreat center located in a growing number of Bed and Breakfast houses across the mid-west. His latest book is Picking a President: Or Any Other Elected Official  (CrossBooks, [June 2012]). To enjoy a free subscription to his blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest reflections on church planting, Biblical Expositions and musings about church, culture and spiritual formation. Follow Pastor Marty on twitter @1Chosenrebel4JC.

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