As mentioned in a previous post, we have a discipleship problem in the church. Disciples aren’t being made. This isn’t because of a lack of effort or desire, but because we aim at solving the symptoms and not the core issue of making disciples. We try to increase worship attendance, baptisms, tithe, and more, but don’t actually go about making disciples.
Sometimes, though, we do try to make disciples and find that our efforts fall flat. We think that we’re making disciples, but as we look at the fruit of our efforts over the course of time we find that few have been made and even those that have seem to drift away over time. What are we missing in our discipleship efforts that cause us to be ineffective? Why aren’t we making disciples?
I think there are four primary reasons:
We Aren’t Building Relationships
We often leave discipleship to sermons and classrooms where the environment for building relationships is limited, if not non-existent. This isn’t to say that you don’t know people’s names and a bit about them, but it’s almost
impossible to have a real relationship with others if you’re not engaged in their lives. You have to be in each other’s homes, hang out together, eat together, and have fun together.
We Focus Too Much on Knowledge
Information is important. We certainly have to know the Bible and Bible studies are great opportunities to understand who God is and what He has done. However, information without application is unused potential. It’s equally important to take what we know and apply it to our lives, our churches, and the community around us.
We Assume Discipleship Can Happen in One Hour a Week
Even in churches where small groups and Sunday school classes are working, we can easily limit the discipleship that could be happening by scheduling too little time together. Of course, people’s schedules are full and it’s challenging to find even an hour together, but the more quantity of time that we have, the more quality of time that is sure to come. Find ways to spend more time together to allow discipleship to take greater steps.
We Don’t Give Imitatable Examples
The lives we lead have to be reproducible in the lives of those we disciple. If there isn’t an opportunity for others to do the same things in the same way that we do, then we’ll soon find no one being discipled. This doesn’t mean weakening things to the point of losing all significance and meaning, but instead simplifying them so that they’re teachable. If you’re going to lead worship, do it in such a way that others could do it too. If you’re going to teach on Sunday mornings, do it in such a way that others could do it too. Always think of how you can be multiplying yourself.
I recognize it’s easy to point out the problems without offering solutions, so look for posts that address each of these in the weeks to come.
What are the ways you deal with these issues?
Where do you find yourself putting forth effort that doesn’t produce fruit?