Many churches talk about discipleship. Many Christians say that discipleship is important.
If discipleship is so important, why aren’t we doing it?
While there are many reasons why discipleship doesn’t happen in our churches, here are 5 hindrances to why it may not be happening in yours.
- Authority – If Scripture isn’t your source of authority, Christian discipleship cannot take place. Our sole source of authority and driving basis for all our decisions should be the Word of God. While many churches will claim to have it as their authority, many don’t communicate why people being personally in the Word is important for their lives (Joshua 1:8).
- Maturity – If our church leaders are spiritually immature, how do we ever expect the congregation to become mature? Our congregations should be spiritually led by spiritually mature leaders (pastors, teachers, etc.). Your church may have great people, but have you led them to be more than what they are? If we don’t inspire them or equip them or challenge them to do more than the bare minimum, why should we be shocked by the level of spiritual depth represented in our congregations? We should sharpen them (Prov 27:17) to do their absolute best.
- Intentionality – Discipleship can’t be a copy and paste approach. People are different. A realization that a one size doesn’t fit all in regards to disciple making is critical. Each church member should be receiving some individual focus, attention, and care in regards to growing stronger in their Christian life. In many churches, the process works if the people want it. What if the people aren’t mature enough to want it yet? If people don’t try to get into a group in many of our churches, they are off the grid. They are classified as immature and disregarded by leadership. We must learn how to shepherd the entire flock (1 Pet 5:2) by being patient with them. Scripture says we should do the task eagerly and yet I feel like many church leaders write people off as unspiritual if they don’t get it yet. To be a shepherd means we are intentional with rounding up the sheep.
- Accountability – Accountability is crucial for discipleship. For accountability to take place, each member should be a part of a group or has someone who provokes them to love and good deeds and is willing to accept responsibility towards them (Heb. 10:24-25). In reality, accountability is crucial at every step of the process. Leadership should show accountability by helping new people navigate the process of getting connected, and relationships within the church should provide accountability towards growth.
- Reproducibility – If the process isn’t reproducible, it is not biblical discipleship (2 Tim. 2:2). The process of disciple making should be easily reproducible in the lives of those we are discipling. Most people would not know what to do if we asked them if they were discipled or how to disciple someone. We use the lingo but people rarely have it articulated. We must make it clear regarding the process of imitation (1 Cor. 11:1).
I know there are more out there, but check your own life and your church regarding these 5 hindrances towards discipleship. If these 5 aren’t present, we are missing something!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.