In our current blog series, we have been examining research that I’ve come across since the turn of the millennium regarding this startling claim: The church is not making disciples. Let's now consider how many men, age 15 and older, are intentionally making disciples.
My own best guess as to the number of men in America who are intentionally engaged in disciplemaking is approximately 60,000. I have reached that estimate by coming at it from two different directions.
One is from my experience in a number of local churches over the years. Even among men who are active in their churches’ various ministries and involved in a small group or other supposed growth situation, I’ve rarely seen more than one in a hundred intentionally engaged in a process of discipling another specific man or men.
The other source for my guess has been my observation in the Chattanooga area where I live. The population of Chattanooga is about 320,000, which is right at 1/1,000 of the USA. That means that if there are 60,000 male intentional disciplemakers in our country, then there should be about 60 of them in Chattanooga.
However, from other Barna research specifically done in the Chattanooga area, I know that Chattanooga has twice the national average on most measures of “Christianity.” For example, in the Chattanooga area the percent of people who answer the questions indicating they are born-again believers is twice the national average. We also have twice the national average of churches per capita. Therefore, based on that, one might reasonably expect that we would have twice the national average of men who are disciplemakers. That means there would be about 120 men who are intentional disciplemakers in Chattanooga.
In fact, based on my involvement in the city since 1992, that number is about what I had observed, at least up to 2010. Since then, God has brought a group of us together and led us to begin intentionally enlisting and training men to engage in making disciplemakers.
Consequently, by the end of 2014, the number was probably more in the range of 270–320. That would be 5 times the national average.
To help you visualize the situation we are in, look at the diagram below. This diagram uses the area of each ring to reflect the numbers we’ve been talking about.
What is your reaction to seeing the situation of disciplemaking among men illustrated in this way?
Now, I know saying this may seem harsh, but ask yourself: If a Christian man is not intentionally and explicitly engaged in helping at least one other man become a spiritually mature disciplemaker, to what extent would you say he is “part of the problem”?