Exponential Conference 09 – Matt Chandler on Making Disciples

Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor of The Village Church, Highland Village, TX, led a great session on The Leader’s Capacity to Make Disciples.

Matt 28:16 Teaching them to OBEY, OBSERVE all that I commanded. Chandler contends that these were followers, not converts. They were actively following Christ. Today’s churches lack a system to hold the people of faith accountable to following the Lord.  We need to adopt a “disciple and send” mentality, rather than the “convert and retain” that we ue.

While many churches keep people busy going to things, empirical data doesn’t show disciples being made. Below are what Chandler feels are the two models of discipleship that exist.

Mechanical/Linear Model

Usually in a classroom with a given timeframe.
Programs quickly become sacred
Stop measuring whether people are discipled, tend to just count the # going through the program


  • No better/easier way to disseminate info
  • Has historical success
  • Tons of resources/curriculum (Google Christian lit)
  • Easy to measure success
  • Easy to motivate people to join and participate
  • Lends itself to strong, historic, orthodox theology


  • Hard to sustain
  • Starts Big; Dies out quickly
  • Can lead to coldness
  • Lends itself to a type of person
  • Mechanical, linear type A people
  • Can lead to the ‘theology police’
  • Can lead to arrogance and stupidity

Organic Relationship Model

Discipleship happens through relationships; less structured


  • Produces belonging; built relationally
  • Tends to appeal to a broader personality types
  • Most people not linear


  • Organically we’re sinful – maturity doesn’t just ‘happen’; arrogance to youth
  • Huge schism between generations on models

Try to strike a balance between Mechanical and Organic

1.   The air that your church breathes must be the air that celebrates transformation and change
  • Regular testimonies – but include every stage, even unbelievers People will be able to better relate and not feel unworthy
  • Teaches maturity, growth, movement of ALL stages
  • Hope comes from showing struggle w/faith
2.    Need on/off ramps
  • Seasons of whole church study in groups followed by less structured opportunities
3.    Keep flexible
  • Keep only the mission end goal sacred!
4.    Needs to be a relational aspect to everything, even the mechanical
  • Home groups
  • Teach application by asking the How? and When? questions.

Francis Chan at Exponential 09 Conference

francis-chan-rotatorLoved the Exponential Conference 09 schedule, easing in and out with a half day, packing the full day right in the middle. We were not numb when it came time for the last, and in my opinion, best speaker of the conference, Francis Chan, Pastor of Cornerstone Church, Simi Valley, CA, and author of “Crazy Love”. Of course this epic intro would have jump-started anyone’s heart.

Animated, passionate, and real, Chan pulls no punches sharing how he feels about the state of the American church and our lack of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. Chan says he dislikes reading the book of Acts because our modern day church doesn’t look like that.  “But it’s a different time, different culture, the Holy Spirit is tired…”  But Chan points out what we all know, the Holy Spirit doesn’t change. So what changed?

He reminds us that in Acts 4:13 when they saw boldness of Peter and John, they were ASTONISHED.  Are we bold?  We have tons more education today, but lack boldness. “We’re raising terrified people,” says Chan. Let’s not forget that He who is in you is greater than the world.

Chan reminds us from James 5:17 that Elijah is a man just like us, and asks “Why do we live in the flesh, when it’s the spirit that gives life?”  We need to re-engage the Holy Spirit and believe the fire of heaven came down and changed our lives.

Chan also relates the church is not great at acting like a family. He goes so far as to say, “Gangs are a better picture of families than the body of Christ.”  Ouch! And true.  If someone with no church experience read the book of Acts and decided to come to your church to experience the love, giving to those in need, and sharing all things in common, would they find that?  “When’s the last time someone left your service and said, “Your Jesus is the real deal”?

With his disarming smile, we just have to love Chan as he convicts and really challenges us. He closed his session calling all church planters forward to be anointed with oil and prayed on.  Here’s a picture from Dave Ferguson’s post on the prayer time. I have never seen such raw emotion at a conference of this size…it’s exactly what we needed. Thank you Francis.