A shotgun uses a shell containing many small pellets called "buckshot." When you shoot each round, these pellets randomly fly in the direction you're aiming. Too many times The Church answers the call to discipleship with what I call "buckshot discipleship." We read "go and make disciples of all nations" in Matthew, but we act out "go and hold events with a talking head" because that's what our celebrity driven culture superimposes in our minds as leadership. (I'm not talking about size of group here. I'm referring to one person talking, everyone else listening, then we all go home.)
When you are shooting for accuracy, your rifle has a scope. You take more time to aim. You aim at a specific target. You shoot one slug on a very specific trajectory. You make small, calculated adjustments to ensure you hit your target.
Discipleship doesn't happen by accident. What if our systems of discipleship were intentional and on purpose instead of buckshot discipleship, hoping another sermon will sink in or a new relationship will somehow be formed. Like anything else, if we will evaluate our system of discipleship appropriately (small calculated adjustments), we will be more successful and better stewards of our calling.
The key is intentionality.
Jesus modeled this by ministering to many but discipling a few. He was intentional with his time. The disciples didn't receive the life transforming lessons from Jesus in the sermons He preached. They received their greatest life lessons on the road, in a boat, in a house, at dinner, on the street, through a passing comment, and even through a harsh rebuke.
The key to being intentional is creating a value system for you to measure how well you are discipling in your group/church/organization. We can't just value size and giving, expecting discipleship to happen. To quote Mel Gibson in The Patriot, "Aim small, miss small."
Here are some questions asked in an intentional value system. Is Jesus at the center? Is there community? Is it a safe place? Is every member moving towards maturity? Is every member being used in ministry? Is our group multiplying? (these examples are from Fusion: Fueling a Student Movement - Dave Short) As you can see, these questions would be tough to ask about a large group of people so I suggest smaller discipleship groups. When you get to around 15 people, you should already have leaders emerging (every member to ministry) and be able to multiply the group.
I challenge The Church to stop attempting "buckshot discipleship," hoping that our current value systems will somehow produce discipleship. We must be good stewards of the Great Commission and place measurable values on our "discipleship" programs. We must ask intentional questions to see true, intentional discipleship in our ministries.
(suggested resources for discipleship: Master Plan of Evangelism: Robert E. Coleman, Fusion materials (a great framework to build your system of discipleship).