Pastors, please be careful with “Growth Tracks” and calling it “discipleship.” If someone can “join the team” in your church in just four weeks, ask yourself some of the following questions:
  1. Am I really making disciples (life long followers) like Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:19-21 or am I just putting spokes in a wheel to run the “church enterprise?”
  2. Have I really done what Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:10; to find tested and approved leaders after just four Sunday meetings?
  3. What standard am I setting for future generations in doctrinal clarity and pure living?
  4. How do I enact church discipline like in 1 Corinthians 5 in a culture where membership and being a helper is seen as more important than equipping the saints for works of service?
  5. Am I really able to teach my helpers (or team) to make new disciples if my “growth track” is a program; in other words how do I teach them to make new disciples?


As a pastor myself I am deeply concerned with the “Growth Track” movement in churches because of the following reasons:
  1. It often times promotes volunteerism over discipleship. Meaning the end goal is being a sound man or usher; not a soul winning disciple making follower of Christ.
  2. It is often times very shallow. Most people who graduate these growth tracks would get smoked by a Jehovah Witness or Mormon; not to mention their atheist friends. Not only that but as George Barna pointed out, they have high levels of heresies (believe that other religions lead to God, the Bible has errors, salvation is by works plus faith, etc.).
  3. It hardly changes someone’s worldview. The new team member most likely has not changed their views on abortion, homosexuality or any major issue. They stay in the same lane as Oprah but now are helping a “cool” church grow.
  4. They hardly promote baptism in the Holy Spirit (with the evidence of speaking in other tongues), street evangelism nor one-on-one discipleship; which was kinda the whole point of the book of Acts.


Before you think I am being too general, please read the following:
  1. I know churches can do other things on top of growth tracks but my point remains if those other things are not “pushed” as hard as the growth tracks. Basically you are then running a two-level church with two different standards and the higher standard you are making optional. Jesus only has one way to make disciples.
  2. Discipleship can take place in many different ways. True, but once again does your “Type A” disciple have the basic attributes of the disciples in Acts: (1) Spoke in tongues, (2) Preached publicly, (3) Made new disciples personally, etc.


Consider some of my suggestions to make these tracks more like Jesus’ model:
  1. Add different steps in the process and make it longer. For example; between Step 1 and 2 (like in the picture) require that the “team member” finds a one-on-one mentor and meets certain bench marks of personal holiness and ministry mindedness before being allowed to start Step 2.
  2. Make 8-12 steps that last 6-12months so that you can track with people. You have no idea how they live, what their family is like and what they really believe. You may have team members right now that think other religions lead to heaven and that abortion should be the choice of the woman.

Bottom Line: Strive to make disciples like Jesus and the early did; don’t settle for anything less than God’s best.

To learn how by God’s grace I pastor a church with over 80% involvement in discipleship (which is a minimum of 8 months but can last years depending on the person), read Discipleship Based Churches either for free in PDF or $.99 at Kindle.