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—From The Keystone Project Training Manual by Richard Greene

In almost every instance I have researched, there have been four common denominators which contribute to a general trend to fall short of the fourth generation:

  1. You chose the wrong first generation disciple, or your first generation chose the wrong second. If that is the case, you need to start over. Don’t fuss with it, just begin again.
  2. Your disciples are not helping their disciples make the next generation. If that is the case, then you probably didn’t help your first generation make your second and/or you did not follow up closely enough to make sure each generation did help their disciples find and make a disciple. This is easily corrected by taking your first generation disciple and helping him or her identify and multiply their first generation disciple. Then, stay with them as the next generation does the same.
  3. You are not making disciples on the mission (but in the classroom or the coffee shop or the cell group). The obvious answer is to move into mission mode. Don’t meet at Starbucks or in the home. And, don’t do lessons or counseling every time you meet with your disciple. Go out and engage the lost with the mindset of finding a potential disciple.
  4. You and/or your disciples are not calling people to a significant, transcending vision of launching a movement, but are calling them to being a disciple or a Christian. If so, that will gut the process of its passion (which is a willingness to sacrifice for something greater than themselves). Check the passion level of your disciples. If it is low, then it is a vision problem. Remember, your main apostolic contribution to the movement is the vision.

Failure to launch (to get beyond the fourth) is a matter of what you have placed in the DNA of your movement. My personal unscientific research has shown that if even one of the above things was not set in the genetic code by the launcher, the movement never becomes a movement. This happens more where the launcher has a gift-mix of apostle/teacher or apostle/prophet.

An apostle/teacher is more focused on the teaching component of his or her movement rather than the transformational and multiplicative components of the movement. They’re wired to teach it but not reproduce it. Don’t stop teaching (because you can’t anyway, if you’re really gifted as a teacher), but change how you are teaching. Change the location, the manner, the content, the timing to match the mission. Do “missional teaching” (teaching that is from and in the context of the mission) rather than the academic style.

Similarly, the apostle/prophet tends to be focused on avoiding traditional forms and practices, and, even though they may be “on the field” they are not really “on the mission”. They are “out there” but being out there isn’t enough if they aren’t missionally engaged out there! It isn’t enough to be on the field (that is, in proximity to the lost); you must be intentionally missionally engaged with the lost. It’s kind of like working in a soup kitchen: you’re there and you’re ladling soup, but you’re not selecting one or two lost people to transform and disciple. In that instance, you are on the field but not on the mission.

The apostle/prophet will be excited about being in the soup kitchen (or the street, or the ghetto, or the park) because he is not in the church. There is a prophetic satisfaction to being on the field, to being different… But are we missionally engaged? Evidence of missional engagement:

  • You are constantly looking, praying, and selecting individuals together with your disciple(s);
  • You are making eye and soul/spirit contact with the lost (they are not objects to feed but people to save);
  • You are working with your disciple(s) to bring the candidate to a place of commitment;
  • You see elements of transformation – a softening of animosity towards the messenger, an openness to the message, revelatory activity (they are “understanding” the Word you share with them), a developing sense of community with you, real change in speech and behavior, and a growing contagious sense of excitement and passion about the future.

CAUTION: If you do not have an apostle/teacher or apostle/prophet gift mix and are falling short of the fourth generation, then you must still check the DNA. How did you start with your first disciples? What were the very first things you said and did with them? If you aren’t reaching the fourth, it is almost always because you implanted the wrong “first things”. You can easily fix that by going back to your first disciple and starting over. Remember, the focus is on Spirit-led transformation and multiplication.

See also 4 Keys to Multiplying Disciples to the Fourth Generation.

—From The Keystone Project Training Manual by Richard Greene


What did you do with your disciples this week? (answer for each disciple)
How are you seeing the Spirit move in the life of your disciples?
What problems or obstacles are your disciples facing? What does he need to learn to overcome this?
What do you think God is trying to teach your disciple?
What is the next thing you should teach your disciple? How will you do this?
What is the next assignment your disciple can be working on?
Has your disciple identified a potential disciple?


What is the Spirit doing among your leaders–where is He most at work?
What do your leaders need from you right now?
What is your next step in facilitating the growth of these disciple-making movements through your leaders?

Activity Inventory

How much time have you given to intentionally disciple others in the past week?
What ministry activities are you doing that are not direct discipleship of individuals?
What will be the consequence if you stop doing these things?
What activities can you stop in order to give more time to discipleship?

Family Inventory

What does your family need from you right now?
Would your children say that you are exasperating them?
What will you do this week to demonstrate your love for your wife in a way she wants?

Personal Inventory

What evidence is there in your life that you are walking in the Spirit?
What are you studying in God’s word? What is He teaching you?
Is your conscience clear?
When is the last time you experienced great joy and spiritual refreshing?

—From The Keystone Project Training Manual by Richard Greene

Jesus made disciples by doing four simple things (see Matthew 10). While He continued to preach to the multitudes, He gave more and more time to these four things and increasingly moved from a public speaking ministry to preparing His disciples for their own ministry.

1. Jesus called His disciples (Matthew 10:1).

There is a major difference between “calling” a disciple and “attracting” new people. When I attract someone I have to appeal to what they want instead of calling them to what God wants. You do not attract disciples, you call them. This calling involves a personal and individual selection as opposed to a universal appeal made to many people. Jesus did not call everyone to be His disciple and even turned some away (Matthew 13:10-17; 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27; Luke 10:25-30; 18:18-27). It is good to desire that all should be saved (2 Peter 3:9); but the sad reality is that most will not be (Matthew 7:13-14). Do not neglect the multitudes, but invest more time into making disciples than appealing to crowds and you will see more of the multitudes saved. As we have seen, the multiplication of disciples will produce a greater number of people preaching and hearing the gospel. Jesus carefully selected (called) His disciples and invested most of His time in them.

2. Jesus empowered His disciples (Matthew 10:1).

Whom God calls, He enables. The power Jesus gave His disciples was authority. In Matthew 28:18-19 Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” In Matthew 10:1, Jesus gave His disciples authority over every sickness and over demons. We are not stronger than demons, but we have authority over them. Disciples must know how to use the authority Jesus has given to them. They can only learn this as they are discipled and trained.

3. Jesus instructed His disciples (Matthew 10:5).

Instruction differs from general teaching in that it requires two things: (1) the impartation (or giving) of knowledge and specific commands through teaching (Matthew 10:5-15), and (2) the development of skills and behavior through mentoring (Luke 9:10). This is what discipleship is: teaching and mentoring, learning and doing, commanding and obeying with accountability.

4. Jesus sent His disciples (Matthew 10:5).

After calling, empowering, and instructing them, Jesus sent His disciples out to do ministry. He released them to do what He was doing. Traditional church structures encourage pastors to focus on collecting more and more people. The larger the collection the more successful the pastor is considered to be. Jesus did not collect people. He called and sent them. The true success of your ministry is not how many people attend your church services but how many people you have sent out into ministry!

—From The Keystone Project Training Manual by Richard Greene

God has used attractional evangelism in its many forms throughout the history of the church. Every Sunday God blesses the preaching of his Word and the saints are encouraged and non-believers are invited to put their faith in Jesus. In crusades and revival meetings from George Whitfield to Billy Graham, attractional evangelism has been the final catalysts to bring many into the kingdom of God. Yet alongside all of this good, there are some very real dangers to the over-reliance on attractional forms of evangelism that are seen in many churches today.

The Problem: Most modern churches have come to rely primarily on an attractional evangelistic method to reach their communities.

In this method the church attempts to evangelize the community by attracting people to its buildings, services, events, or programs. The idea behind this approach is that you offer people what they want or enjoy and they “come to your church.” It is assumed that as they attend the church’s programs they will find Christ and become disciples.

There are (at least) five major weaknesses of the attractional evangelistic method:

1. It does not make disciples; it attracts consumers.

The attractional method typically appeals to the needs or desires of those it is targeting to reach, and must deliver those needs and desires at a “price” the target group is willing to pay. This is religious consumerism. At some point the church must call the attendee to a deeper level of commitment and sacrifice without which it is impossible for them to be a disciple. When that call comes later rather than earlier, the attendee has already “bought into” a form of Christianity which has allowed him to be a Christian without being a disciple. Too often this results in what Dallas Willard calls the “cost of non-discipleship”, undiscipled disciples! Additionally, it violates the basic principles of discipleship because you do not attract disciples, you call them (Matthew 8:18-22).

2. It tends to be very expensive and resource intensive.

Bringing unchurched people into a church using the attractional method often requires a steady menu of consumer-oriented approaches, programs, and events involving facilities, resources, staff, and media.

The focus too easily becomes the development of these attractional features rather than intentionally and organically discipling those who attend.

3. It is not easily reproducible.

See number 2 above! Those who have sufficient resources to support the attractional method can do it well. Those who do not have sufficient resources will struggle to reproduce the attractional model.

Because it is dependent on resources for its success, this method is inherently artificial rather than organic. At best it cannot lead to addition growth but never multiplication growth.

4. What you win them by is what you win them to.

What is the effect on the church when it attracts people by giving them what they want or need? The church becomes the object of its own ministry. The community becomes a means by which the church grows, instead of the church being a means by which the community is reached. How will such an attractional approach affect the call of Christ on those who respond to it? Having responded to our offers and provision of what they want or need, they must now obey Christ’s command to deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Him! It also unintentionally puts churches in competition with one another. The reality is that those who would respond to the attractional method will typically be those who would consider attending a church. Statistics indicate that in the future that will be a smaller percentage of the general population. Churches will have to compete for this group.

5. It creates a weak “point of connection” between the target group and the church.

When you rely on the attractional approach for evangelism, you will connect people to your church by appealing to what they like, want, or feel they need. This creates a very weak point of connection to the church.

It is a very weak connection because:

  • It requires too little commitment from new attendees. They are connected to the church by the things which attracted them to the church rather than by a commitment to Christ.
  • It requires too little commitment from your members, especially in the area of evangelism. Evangelism becomes a matter of inviting someone to church rather than sharing one’s faith.
  • It requires you (the church pastor/leader) to focus your attention, time, and resources on providing what people want and enjoy rather than leading them into what God is doing.

In the attractional approach we measure church growth in terms of the success of our programs (i.e. the youth ministry is successful if it attracts more youth). If we are using our worship services to attract new people, then our worship services will be (rightfully) measured by how many people they attract. However, if we are using our worship services to worship God, one must seriously question how prominent a role increasing numbers should play in measuring the success of those services and in determining what we do in them. Perhaps there are other more subjective assessments we would want to focus on such as the spiritual qualities of worship, transformation, God’s manifest presence, obedience, Biblical teaching and preaching, etc.

The way we define and qualify church growth determines how we measure it. The way we measure it will affect how we pursue it.

If we measure church growth in terms of attendance, then we will pursue it in terms of attendance. If we measure it in terms of spiritual transformation and community impact, then we will pursue it in terms of spiritual transformation and community impact. Of what value is a full service when the local schools and neighborhoods are left unchanged?

While increasing numbers can indicate an increase in spiritual growth, it is questionable whether or not it is enough of an indication to warrant the current level of attention it receives in modern institutional church growth strategies.

In the end, we must question whether or not the numerical growth of services, programs, or meetings should be the consuming focus of visionary church leadership and whether or not increasing numbers “in church” means increasing numbers in the Church. What do you think?

—From The Keystone Project Training Manual by Richard Greene

Making disciples requires much practice and hard work. It is similar to being a parent. The best way to learn is through experience. There is no “one” way to make a disciple. Nor is there a “right” way to do it. Every disciple is different and responds to different ideas, goals, and techniques. As you work with your disciples, you will have to “customize” (or make personal) your approach for each one. The following tips may be useful to you as you begin your discipling ministry.

1. Take Care of Yourself – As a discipler, it is very important for you to be in good spiritual, emotional, financial, and physical condition. The key to keeping your whole life “in shape” is to discover and maintain your personal priorities and to be balanced in all things (1 Corinthians 9:27; Philippians 4:5). Your personal priorities should include your own relationship with Jesus, your family, your ministry in the church, and your job. Keep your spiritual life focused through prayer, Bible study, fasting, and ministry. Maintain your key relationships with love and gentleness, especially with your family. Avoid going into debt. Pay your bills when they are due. Learn to be content with what you have. Do physical exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. Remember, your life must be an example to your disciples. What you excuse in moderation they will practice in excess.

2. Be Accountable to Someone – Accountability is the key to successful disciple-making. The word “accountability” means “to give a record of; to answer for.” To be accountable to someone is to be responsible to them for a specific area of your life. The 12 disciples were accountable to Jesus after He sent them out to do ministry (Luke10:17). Paul and Barnabas returned to the church at Antioch to give a report of all they had done (Acts 14:26-28). When we are accountable to someone, we are acknowledging our need for God’s authority in our lives. As a discipler, it is important for you to be accountable to someone else for your own life and for your discipling ministry.

3. Be Faithful – One of the marks of a disciple is that he is faithful. To be faithful is to be “worthy of trust.” That is, you can be counted on to do what is expected and required. As a discipler you must be faithful in all things – to your church, to God’s Word, to your spouse, to your employer, and to your disciple. Keep your word. If you make a promise, keep it (Psalm 15:4). Be faithful in little things and God will give you greater things (Luke 16:10-12). Be on time to your meetings and appointments. Do not make excuses for a lack of faithfulness. Do not live carelessly. As you learn faithfulness, you will also recognize faithfulness in others. In choosing a disciple, the number one requirement is that they be faithful (2 Timothy 2:2). Discipleship is passing on to others what you have learned. As you begin your discipling ministry the devil will bring to you many people who are not faithful. These people will waste much of your time, energy, and resources because of their lack of faithfulness.

4. Be Flexible –What works with one disciple may not work with another. What has been helping your disciple grow may become an obstacle to growth as his situations change. You must be able to make disciples in a variety of situations and settings. Your goal remains the same – to guide them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ – but your methods may change. This is especially true as you work beyond your first generation. Your disciple may use tasks and techniques with his disciple which you did not use with him. That will be normal and is a sign of growth.

5. Be Loving – Whatever Jesus does is rooted in His unconditional love for all people. To follow Jesus is to follow the path of love. The first commandment we teach our disciples is the Great Commandment of Matthew 22:37-40. Love is more important than any ministry, miracle, or work we can do for God. Love is greater than any sacrifice or worship – even to the giving of our own lives (1 Corinthians 13).

6. Pray for Your Disciples Every Day – Perhaps the greatest treasure we can give our disciples is our fervent prayers (Matthew 6:21). Young Christians are very open to attack and temptation. They need to be covered by the prayers of those who are watching over them. Your prayers will do two important things: (1) they will keep your heart and love towards your disciple, and (2) they will act as a covering of protection over him.

7. Be Discerning –Discernment is instinctively being able to see or know what is not obvious. This is not the same as the spiritual gift mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:10. That is the gift of discerning of spirits – being able to identify spirits in specific situations. The discernment we are speaking of here comes from the Holy Spirit as we walk closely with Him. The discipler must be very discerning in his relationship with his disciple. It will be important for you to know his motives and intentions or goals, especially as you counsel him about the situations and problems in his life.

Here are some things you can do to develop discernment:

  • Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment.
  • Develop the habit of listening carefully.
  • Do not answer or respond too quickly.
  • Fill your life with the Word of God.
  • Understand God’s ways by knowing His character and purposes.
  • Look for that which is not obvious – spirits, motives, agendas, fears, and needs.
  • Be sure to confirm every discernment or word with the Word of God, and reliable witnesses or people in whom you have confidence (2 Corinthians 13:1).

8. Build a Relationship with Your Disciple – The power of the discipler to influence his disciple comes from the quality of their relationship. To build a strong relationship with your disciple you must take time to get to know him.

9. Meet Your Disciple’s Family – Every disciple is an individual and must be treated as a unique person. Remember, your disciple is also part of a family and a community. His family and community have a great influence and effect on his life and faith. It is important for you to visit his family and get to know them as much as possible.

10. Keep Good Records – It is a good idea for you to develop and maintain a good record keeping system for your discipling ministry, especially if you are discipling more than one person at a time. Good records can help you in several ways: (1) they can help you keep track of what you have assigned each disciple; (2) they can help you remember important facts and dates (birthdays, etc.); (3) your records can give you a way to measure your disciples’ progress and growth; (4) and they can also help you as you plan your discipling appointments.

11. Plan Your Time Together – While you must be careful not to “over-program” your time with your disciple, it is also important for you to plan your time together to accomplish your discipling goals in his life. What do you want to accomplish in your time together? What things did you assign to your disciple in your last meeting? Each meeting should have a specific goal for spiritual maturity and growth.

12. Use Spiritual Growth Tasks – A spiritual growth task is an assignment you give to your disciple that helps him to grow in Christ. It may be to pray for someone, or to fast for a day, or to read a book, an article, or a portion of the Bible. It may include memorizing some Bible verses, writing a letter, witnessing to a neighbor, or doing something special for a loved one. Be creative and keep the tasks simple and focused. Don’t go too long without including overtly missional tasks that include serving and blessing the non-Christian community.

13. Listen – Develop the skill of good listening. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Remember, “He who talks the most, listens the least.” Listening is more than hearing words. It is important to listen for feelings as well as facts.

14. Ask Questions – Asking the right questions is one of the most important tools you have in making a disciple. Asking the right questions will help you to get the information you need to help your disciple. The purpose of asking questions is to guide your disciple as he discovers God’s will and heart in his life.

15. Learn the Skills of Coaching and Mentoring– A discipler is more of a coach than a supervisor. There are seven steps to effective coaching:

  • Listen actively
  • Celebrate wins
  • Care personally
  • Strategize plans.
  • Do skill training
  • Develop character
  • Challenge specifically

16. Develop Credibility – Credibility is the quality of being believable, reliable, and trustworthy. Your disciple must be able to trust your spiritual judgment and have confidence in your personal integrity. There are four things that contribute to the development of credibility.

  • Your Position – this is when your relationship with your disciple is based on your official position to him (perhaps you are his elder or pastor).
  • Your Expertise (or skill) – this is when your disciple recognizes your experience, knowledge, and abilities.
  • Your Spiritual Authority – this is when your disciple is confident in your spiritual judgment, gifts, wisdom, and discernment.
  • Your Relational Authority – this is when you have built a strong relationship with your disciple and he has great confidence and trust in you.

17. Use Discretion – In most instances, it is not appropriate for a man to directly disciple a woman or for a woman to disciple a man. If you must disciple someone of the opposite sex, try to do it in a group setting or have an older woman do it for you. Set guidelines to prevent being alone and avoid temptation or even the appearance of evil as it can give the enemy opportunity to destroy you (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

18. Keep it Simple – Simplicity is doing the same thing with fewer resources (2 Corinthians 1:12; 11:3). Jesus lived a simple, uncluttered life. In discipleship, as in most other things, the best way is usually the simplest way. Keep your lessons and spiritual growth tasks simple.

19. Build a Prayer Foundation – As we mentioned earlier, it is important for every discipler to have a strong prayer foundation.

20. Maintain Confidentiality – Confidentiality means you do not share personal information your disciple has entrusted to you. Your disciple must know that whatever he shares with you will remain with you. This will keep his trust in you strong.

21. Multiply! – Help your disciple to reach out to his family and social network and help him to make a new disciple within the first two months. Then work with your disciple as he leads his disciple and follow this process through until the fourth generation. Once you have a fifth generation disciple, the DNA of multiplication should be embedded into the movement and you can then focus on finding a new first generation disciple.