Not long ago, our simple church group had to discuss the idea of "starting from scratch" with a fundamental and basic topic: What does it mean/take to make a disciple? Practically, to work through this discussion, we used what I am calling the "way of the whiteboard" (described on this page).
It is simple. Start with a blank whiteboard. When everyone agrees with a fundamental, non-negotiable component of disciple making, then we write it on the whiteboard. What we were left with has provided us with what should give us a very appropriate mandate for the rest of our lives.
A friend of mine did the same thing with the concept of church, but I felt we needed to go even more foundational than that. At least, I need to in my life. After all, we are commissioned by Jesus Christ Himself to "go and make disciples." As much as I want to organize a simple church planting network, I have to realize that He does not commission us to all "go and plant churches." Making disciples must come first! That responsibility and calling belongs to all of us!
I am inspired by what Alan Hirsch writes in his Handbook to The Forgotten Ways (emphasis added):
"When dealing with discipleship, and the related capacity to generate authentic followers of Jesus, we are dealing with the crucial factor that will in the end determine the quality of the whole - if we fail at this point, then we are almost guaranteed to fail in all the others...For the follower of Jesus, discipleship is not the first step in a promising career, but the fulfillment of their destiny to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29)" (pg. 63).
"When we look at the stories of Christian movements that change the world, we can say that they are simply disciple-making systems" (pg. 64).
It has been eye-opening and humbling to start over with this elementary, yet enormously profound, question!