The missing middle in the life of the church

What is life-on-life missional discipleship?


What is life-on-life missional discipleship?

Video & Transcript


Why is it that countless churches excel at preaching and programs, but struggle to make mature and equipped followers of Christ?

Churches typically go from Preaching and Teaching to Deploying. We tell people what to do—then send them off to do it. But the problem with Proclamational Leadership is that it sends out believers who aren’t yet trained and matured. It leads to discouragement, disillusionment, and disengagement.

Jesus didn’t direct and delegate. He discipled. He didn’t merely inform his followers by
sharing his knowledge; he transformed them by sharing his life and having them join in his ministry. Jesus modeled Incarnational Leadership: Discipling his men. Joining them in the trenches, while preparing and coaching them to multiply and to be sent to the front lines.

We call it Life-on-Life Missional Discipleship, and we believe it’s the missing middle in the life of the church, the center of the hourglass.



Preaching, teaching, and small groups deliver great truth and create meaningful fellowship. But Life on Life Missional Discipleship equips us to go from belief to maturity, leadership and impacting other disciples and the lost world. Without Christ-like discipleship, Christ-followers cannot become kingdom leaders, and congregations can cherish the Word but cannot change the world.

Remember: When God wanted to build his church, he didn’t send a program to implement. He sent a person to imitate. And the life that Jesus lived, the model he gave, was defined by Life-on-Life missional discipleship.

Jesus shows us how to Think Big, Start Small, and Go Deep. He pursued a big vision for the world by selecting a small group of men and investing deeply in their lives. As Paul says, “We shared the gospel with you and our lives as well.” This is the heart of discipleship: when people who are being conformed to Christ share their life, they pass on Jesus’ life. The life of Christ leaves a legacy of generations and the gospel spreads around the world.

That’s why Life on Life Missional Discipleship groups are unlike traditional small groups. They focus on life transformation, not just fellowship or knowledge transfer. They’re small, with 4-6 people who are carefully selected and highly committed. And they multiply. We make disciples who can go and make more disciple-makers. As each leader goes on to raise up more leaders, and those leaders raise more leaders still, the growth of the movement is exponential and explosive.

This is not a novel idea or a quick fix. It’s simply the way of Jesus. It’s not a new method, but an old method with new people. Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations. As we’ve focused on Life on Life Missional Discipleship, the blessing has been profound.

By God’s grace alone we’re seeing Life on Life Missional Discipleship movements rise up throughout the United States and around the globe. Wherever God’s plan is followed, we see new believers, new leaders emerging, and congregations impacting their families, neighborhoods, cities, and nations.

Discipleship was Jesus’ model, his method, his mandate, and his mission. There is no Plan B.