Plumb Lines: Seek Disciples Not Decisions

This post is part of series called Plumb Lines where Larry Osborne shares guidelines on how articulating certain “ministry plumb lines” can make decision making a snap, and can make sure that teams are in alignment with the greater mission. To start this series from the beginning, go to the Plumb Lines Intro post.

Here’s Larry with the next plumb line, Seek Disciples Not Decisions.

Let’s continue our look at plumb lines, these “rules of the road” that make decisions a snap and help you as a leader articulate how things are done around here, especially when you’re trying to build DNA and corporate culture into your organization. One of the ones we use at North Coast is this idea of we want to seek disciples, not decisions.

Now again, our plumb lines might be or might not be yours but let me walk you through how this makes decisions so much easier for us. This little sound byte that “we seek disciples, not decisions” helps us look, at the end of the day, at what we’re going to keep track of and what we’re going to celebrate.

I grew up in a church environment, where everything was about how many decisions we can make. In fact, I think we counted some people over and over and over again, and the number of decisions was always quite high but somehow, the church never grew, literally never grew. It was always about the same size year after year. And the problem, in my mind, is they were getting people to sign up for the gym but they weren’t getting anybody to show up at the gym. And they confuse the Great Commission as being go into all the world and get people to make a nod to God, not get people to become disciples, baptize them, and then keep at it until you’ve taught them to obey everything, which of course is what Matthew Chapter 28 tells us in the Great Commission.

So, you can imagine how that makes our programming easier to figure out. It tells us what we want to do and what we don’t want to do because we’re going to run it through the grid that, at the end of the day, we would rather have more disciples, even if that meant we had less decisions. We want to make sure that our decisions stick, instead of our decisions be very high in number but very low in retention. That’s a plumb line, and a plumb line like that can help you decide how you preach, it can help you decide how you program, it can help you decide what you’re going to count, and it will help you decide what you’re going to celebrate.

Making disciples, not seeking decisions. A good example of a plumb line.

Now, carrying on, I want to give you another one that we use as an example and that is that we believe that programs and preaching attract people, but relationships is what keeps people. And once again, that little sound byte, which is really kind of close and parallels this idea of disciples, not just decisions, has guided the way that we program our church here. It’s helped new staff members figure out what we’re going to do, what we’re not going to do, what’s important, what’s not important. Because if we believe that our programs and our preaching attract people, we’re going to spend a whole lot of effort in them, but if we believe what really grows and keeps people is relationships, where iron sharpens iron, where people are velcroed to the Bible and one another, then lo and behold, we’re going to spend a lot of emphasis on small groups. And if you know anything about North Coast Church, that’s the hub of our ministry and that’s why it is the hub of our ministry because we have a plumb line.

The great programs, great worship, great preaching; that can attract people, but what really keeps them so that we can disciple them and not just have decisions and not just have attendees and not just have members, is relationships. So, once again, you’re going to have to figure out what your plumb lines are, but that’s a couple examples that have worked well for us and kept us on target.

This video is part of the Plumb Lines series available for free on YouTube, To watch the video, click below.