Small Batch Disciple Making

September 29th, 2015 | Community
J.Q. Dickinson

When you return to the US after living overseas for three years, your expat friends warn you about how you will react the first time you enter an American supermarket. Apparently, nothing is as disorienting in your reentry to American culture as the overwhelming number of choices in a typical grocery mega-store.   While I admit, I did lose my car in the giant American sized parking lot; the thing that most impacted me at the local Ralph’s was the emergence of the niche food industry in the last three years. The gastronomy world has been taken over by handcrafted, artisanal, small batch versions of everything from coffee and beer to beef jerky and ice! There is actually a website where you can buy small batch dog food.

In my attempt to better understand our cultural obsession with the small batch process, I watched a Devour video on the process of small batch salt making.   I challenge you to take the seven minutes to watch the compelling video, “Where Your Salt Comes From” before reading on.


Small Batch Salt


The first time I watched that video, not only did Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:13 calling his followers to be “salt of the earth” come to mind, but I also was impressed by how similar their process for salt making is to our process of disciple making as a church.  In fact, I shared these parallels recently with our Community Group leaders including some direct quotes from the video.


  1. We are in the small batch disciple making business.

“(Salt making) is labor intensive.   It is a process that cannot be rushed.”

In the Acts 2:42, Luke details that the early church met regularly in the Temple courts and in individual homes.  These early church members considered themselves disciples of Jesus, that is, imitators of his lifestyle, believers in His message, and surrendering their resources to His control.  Since the inception of the church, it has always been God’s pattern that disciples gather in both large groups and in small groups for worship, bible study, prayer, and community.  As much as the modern church emphasizes the Sunday morning gathering experience, it is the weekly small community group experience where the real magic happens.  Lives are shared, people are cared for, growth is celebrated, pains are grieved, and community is forged.  Disciples are not mass-produced on Sunday mornings, they are Spirit made in small batches in living rooms and cafes where the Word of God, written and living, is put in the center and people gather around.  Small batch disciples are made over long periods of time as their character refined through the heat of life’s circumstances and filtered through the sieve of God’s Word.


  1. We want to obsess over the quality of the disciples we are making.

I am not ashamed to say it; I am a Salt Snob.”

The Ecclesia Community Group leaders were able to sample some of the J.Q. Dickenson salt and the response was overwhelming, “Wow, not all salt is the same! “ Once you have tasted 4 million year old salt, it is hard to go back to the free stuff on the restaurant table. We have all experienced the reality that not all Christians are the same either. There are high quality followers of Jesus who are adding to the flavor of life in LA and then there are generic Christians that seem to just blend in to the world around them. As one chef in the video said, “Generic salt is terrible. “ Culture has weighed in that Generic Christians are terrible too.

We want to be sure that as a church we are not just producing a large quantity of disciples, but that we are producing a quality of discipleship that stands out in culture and adds flavor, life and value to our city. If you call me a snob for wanting to make the best disciple possible then so be it; I am not ashamed to say I am a disciple snob.


  1. We believe that even one disciple can have a huge impact on the life in a city.

“Its mind-blowing how much one product can change something.”

The Bible is filled with examples of individuals who lived a life of obedience to God and lived counter culturally in such a way that it changed a whole city around them. From people in high ranking positions like Queen Esther and Nehemiah to commoners like the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus used the images of salt and light as examples of small things that make a big difference because of what they can add to the context around them.   Ecclesia hopes to spread the life of Jesus throughout the city of Hollywood and the Hollywood industry by placing individuals and small group communities in every nook and cranny of society. In those places, we live out the love of Jesus and display the message of the gospel in our lives with confidence that God works through individuals to build his Kingdom.

If you want to join in the small batch process, this is the perfect time to get involved in an Ecclesia Community Group.  Check out our current group listings.

Jon Ritner joined Ecclesia as Lead Pastor in August of 2015. Before moving to LA, Jon had served for three years as a Pastor in a small church plant in Brussels, Belgium and for 10 years as a Pastor in a large church in Williamsburg, Virginia. Jon and his wife, Kristyn, have been married since 2002 and have two children, Addy (10) and Jax (7). Jon is a native of New York and a graduate of The College of William and Mary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Also, he keeps himself humble by rooting for the Chicago Cubs and playing pick up basketball with guys half his age.

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