The Four Fields
Updated: Aug 3, 2021
5 Parts / 4 Fields
Recently we were introduced to a disciple-making strategy that’s being used all over the world to train disciples called The Four Fields. It’s based on what Jesus did in his ministry and what his disciples reproduced in the book of Acts. When we look at the strategy used to make disciples in the New Testament, it can easily be described in these 5 parts.
Entry – Which answers the questions: who do we reach? And how do we engage them?
Gospel – What is the Gospel? And how do we communicate it in a way that can be easily reproduced?
Discipleship – How do we nurture those receptive to the Gospel and teach them to obey Jesus?
Gather – What should the Biblical community we call ‘Church’ look like?
Multiply – How do we practically develop leaders to bring the Gospel to where they live work and play?
To visualize this, we use The Four Fields:
Jesus said that a Farmer went out to sew his seed. So there’s a basic entry into an empty field. There’s work to be done. Like a blank canvas or the cursor blinking on a new Word doc. This is a representation that even though the harvest might be plentiful, the workers are few. So who will go? Where will you go? Where is our sphere of influence where we live, work, and play? The empty field represents our mission field. This is where God has called you. So throw seed generously.
Once the farmer enters the field, he sews the seed generously. Anywhere and everywhere he can. This represents our mandate of sharing the Good News to all people. It’s a good reminder that we need to be committed to evangelism and training the ninety-nine to go after the one.
Once he sows the seed. The seeds begin to sprout. Now, the farmer doesn’t cause the seed to sprout, but, when it does sprout, he can nurture it, water it, and care for it. The Gospel is taking root. This is well represented by the four types of soils that Jesus refers to. Rocks, Path, Weeds, Good Soil. When we’re spreading the Gospel, we don’t know the soil on which it lands for some time. But those that are receptive to it take root and grow. We’ve spent a lot of time as a network training our church planters to know and share the Kingdom Gospel and intentionally disciple them with reproducible tools through The Bonhoeffer Project.
At the end of the season, when the harvest comes, the farmer puts the sickle to the harvest and gathers everything into bundles. This picture of the coming together of disciples is what the church should look like. There’s the often-quoted phrase in church planting that “If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.” It’s a true Biblical community where equipping and training happens so the saints can do the work of ministry.
The farmer then takes some of the seeds from the harvest to be able to go back and sew the next season. And in so doing, he multiplies and facilitates continuous growth. This is the goal. We’re not after a single gathering or church. We’re after churches. A multiplicative movement that extends beyond the four walls of our church to the ends of the earth.
“If you make disciples, you always get the church. But if you make a church, you rarely get disciples.” Mike Breen – Building a discipling culture
Personal and Corporate Application
One of the reasons I love this tool is that there’s so much depth to each section. It’s a great articulation of what individual discipleship looks like and there are simple tools that can go along with each field.
Entry asks the question, where is my mission field? Tools like the Oikos Map help people identify those around them that they can share the Gospel with. It helps individuals realize that they are right in the middle of a harvest field whether they realize it or not.
Gospel – Teaching others to share the Kingdom Gospel doesn’t have to be a seminary-trained affair. Simple tools like the 3 Circles can help people quickly and effectively share the Gospel with others.
Discipleship is a loaded word. But at a grassroots level, we’re called to: go, make disciples, baptize, and teach them to obey the commands of Jesus. Tools like a 3/3rds group or Discovery Bible Study are simple and reproducible.
Gather – Sometimes our definition of ‘church’ is overcomplicated. You have dozens of church potential church planters in your church. They just might not ever start an organization. But believers can gather biblical, Acts 2 communities in their homes while they care for and train their disciples.
Multiply – The church basically exists to train the saved and to save the lost. The goal is every nation. Training others to do what you’ve done is required.
At the same time, it gives us a road map for what you as a Church Planter should be focused on:
ENTRY: What is your entry strategy to connect with people in your community? What events, marketing, or outreach strategies will you use to help launch your church?
GOSPEL: Are you preaching the Kingdom Gospel? How will you train others to share it themselves? You need to know with crystal clarity what Gospel you’re preaching and how to teach others to share it.
DISCIPLESHIP: What is your discipleship process? What is your plan for making disciples in your church? What is your church’s definition of a disciple? This goes way beyond, just show up to church again next Sunday. “The intention to make disciples requires a plan, if you have no plan, you don’t really intend to do it.” – Bill Hull
GATHER: How do you facilitate true Biblical community? What does it look like to gather together? Often times in church planting, we want to ENTER and go right to GATHER. And the only ‘gospel’ spreading we do is to promote our brand of church that’s now starting.
MULTIPLY: How will you raise up and train leaders to multiply all of this?! Not only as disciple-makers but quite possibly as multiplying church planters themselves? It’s intentionally raising up leaders with tools like The Leadership Pipeline.
“The intention to make disciples requires a plan, if you have no plan, you don’t really intend to do it.” Bill Hull – Conversion & discipleship
The variables are many but every discipleship strategy is generally trying to accomplish this. Entry, Gospel, Discipleship, Gather, and Multiply. Understanding this will help us to equip our people to advance the Kingdom and make disciples of ALL NATIONS.