In light of my new discipleship workbook released on March 16th, I've posted 4 blog-articles on discipleship. Each blog covered discipleship from a different perspective.
- In the first, "Clarifying Discipleship", I wrote on what discipleship actually means and what are some inherent aspects of discipleship.
- In the second, "The Biblical Framework for Discipleship", I briefly and broadly showed the four sides that frame what the Bible teaches about discipleship.
- In the third, "The Heart of Discipleship", I shared what the heart of discipleship is and why it matters.
In this fourth and final blog-article, I plan to highlight the most common reasons why many Christians do not make disciples and why some of those reasons are lame, irresponsible, disobedient, and dangerous.
Where did it Start?
In 2017, I spent about a month or two tweeting reasons why Christians don't make disciples. After each reason I would add #disciplesmakedisciples to highlight why none of these reasons are valid—because disciples make disciples.
These 15 are the most repeated reasons I've heard and observed from people over the last 12 years I've been discipling believers and from what I've read consistently by other leaders/pastors from their experiences of discipling others.
Since the premise is on why most Christians don't make disciples, we have to be on the same page as to what is meant by "make disciples". Otherwise, you may misunderstand these reasons.
Making disciples =
- helping unbelievers come to saving faith in Jesus
- helping believers grow in their faith, grow in becoming more like Jesus, grow in sharing Jesus
- helping believers know how to make more disciples of Jesus
As we explore why most Christians don't "make disciples", you'll notice that each reason will be referring to any of one of these three, or a combination of the three, or all three.
15 Reasons Why Most Don't
These 15 reasons are not in any particular order, though I did try to group them together.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they themselves have never been discipled.
This reason is an indictment on the local church and the individual believer. It is a responsibility of both, not one or the other. If you want to be discipled but your church is failing to do so, then you continue to pray and seek it out from other means until the Lord answers. And He will answer you. In the meanwhile, keep pursuing Him. If one's local church is providing ways to be discipled and the believer does not take advantage of them, that believer is without excuse.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they don't know how.
This may sound like reason #1, but it is not. There are many believers who have been discipled, but their discipling never included how to disciple another person. Any discipling that does not entail teaching and demonstrating how to do the same with another is incomplete. It is only disciples who can make disciples.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they're more focused on themselves.
A selfish Christian is a disobedient Christian. Selfishness and the Savior cannot both be obeyed. Both want the glory. Biblical disciple-making is a selfless task. To make disciples of Jesus requires dying to self all throughout the process, which in turn shows the one being discipled how to die to self too. Many run from disciple-making because they simply love themselves more than others and more than obeying Jesus.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they're comfortable and lazy.
A comfortable, lazy Christian is disobedient too, but by idolatry. Comfort is an idol. Comfort makes Christians mission lazy. Comfort is a disguised way of asking for God to enter wreckage in one's life to remove the idol and stir up fire to bring about obedience. His call to make disciples will always be more important than our comfort.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they're too busy with other non-important things.
This reason is an excuse of priority. If the reason a Christian is not making disciples is because they're too busy with other non-mission related things, then what they are communicating to Jesus is their "things" are more important than His mission and their obedience. This too is asking for God to enter wreckage in one's life to remove the excuse. His call to make disciples will never pit a Christian against their God-entrusted daily responsibilities (e.g. parenting, marriage, job, health). He will always provide enough time for us to do both, obey His call and carry out our responsibilities. There is no excuse. Reprioritize for what matters most.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they've let fear trump obedience.
For many, the thought of witnessing to someone about Christ and/or helping someone else follow Christ is terrifying. They're either afraid they're going to screw up their part or mess up the other person. Both of these reasons stem from doubting God and/or biblical illiteracy. Either way, they reason out of obeying Jesus because of their fear. Yet, Jesus addressed this fear in the Great Commission when He said, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20, ESV). Thus, fear is not a valid reason.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they've let complacency set in.
This may sound like reason #4, but it is not. This reason is about a false sense of effort. The complacent Christian is the blind guide, unaware that they're blind, thinking their helping others. These Christians think because they did something "good" before that it now suffices as them fulfilling the Great Commission going forward. They've equated making disciples with serving at the church, or completing a task, or acquiring some "Christian" achievement, and so on. They've become complacent with checking boxes and not actually making disciples.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? It's not because they cannot, but because they want not.
This reason is all about defiance. Defiance is nothing more than arrogant disobedience. A defiant Christian is shameful. For a Christian to not want to make disciples is absurdly ironical, because God used other Christians to plant, water, and lead them to salvation in Christ and then help them in the faith. A Christian that has been equipped by their church through preaching, classes, groups, mentoring, and so forth, but does not want to make disciples may prove themselves to not be Christian at all. Why? Because disciples of Christ want to make and build up more disciples of Christ. It is an inherent desire brought by the Holy Spirit.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they're consumer-driven not commission-driven.
A consumer-driven Christian is more focused on what they can receive, less about what they do. A commission-driven Christian is more focused on their effort and what they can offer toward fulfilling the Great Commission. If you simply receive from your church, or other faith-based ministries, or faith-based resources, but you offer little to none toward making disciples yourself, you are a consumer-driven Christian. And a consumer-driven Christian is a selfish Christian. His mission is to be the believer's primary consumption.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they think it's the pastors' responsibility.
This reason could be because of a lack of biblical explanation of discipleship by the church or a diversion of personal responsibility. Yes, a pastor is responsible for making disciples. And yes, pastors are responsible for setting the example of making disciples. But every Christian is responsible for making disciples. The Great Commission was given to disciples to go and make more disciples. If you're a born-again disciple of Jesus, this means you.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they think making disciples = preaching sermons and/or teaching classes.
This reason, like #10, could too be because of a lack of biblical explanation of discipleship by the church, or a diversion of personal responsibility, or innocent ignorance. Sermons and classes are merely two ways of making disciples. They are not the only ways to do so. No matter what, some manner of teaching will be present in making disciples, but Jesus did not limit it to only sermons and classes. However you go about "teaching them to observe" all that He commanded is making disciples.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they feel under-qualified.
This reason may sound like #2, but it is different. Not knowing how to make disciples and feeling under-qualified to do so are two different things. Christians that use this reason are gun-shy and/or misinformed. Being gun-shy is not necessarily because of a lack of knowing how to disciple others or a lack of knowledge (biblical and wisdom) that can benefit other believers. Being gun-shy is when they feel like they need to know more before they actually go and do so. Being misinformed, on the other hand, is when a Christian has been incorrectly taught or has incorrectly learned that they must meet certain qualifications before they can make disciples. The only qualification for disciples making disciples, is following Jesus. If a Christian is actively following Jesus, no matter their level of maturity or biblical knowledge, then they can (and are to) make disciples.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they think they have to become a "leader" first.
This reason is similar to #10 and #12. This reason comes from being misinformed or because of a lack of biblical explanation of discipleship by the church, or a diversion of personal responsibility. Leadership is not a requirement for making disciples. Every Christian that is actively following Jesus can (and is to) make disciples.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because they think they have to be a Bible scholar.
This reason may sound like #12, but it's actually the extreme of #12. Nowhere in Scripture does it state or imply that Christians must be experts before they can obey Jesus in making disciples. Christians don't need to go to Bible college or seminary in order to make disciples. So long as a Christian is actively following Jesus, they can (and are to) make disciples, no matter their level of biblical knowledge.
Why don't most Christians make disciples? Because many professing Christians are false converts.
There are professing Christians in every church that are not truly regenerate, just deceived religious folk. These people are sitting and serving in churches, being asked and taught to do something they cannot and will not do because they are still dead in their sins but have been deceived into believing they are born-again. Jesus calls these folks "tares/weeds" and tells us they gather together with the "wheat" (Matt. 13:24-30). The hope is as true born-again believers walk out their discipleship they help the deceived religious folk in the church realize they are unbelievers and then lead them to Christ before its too late. Because only disciples of Jesus can make disciples of Jesus.
If you are looking for ways to grow so you can be obedient and make disciples, go over to the Discipleship and Resources pages and be built up and equipped to do so. It is because of reasons like these 15 that this ministry and many others exist to help be solutions to these problems of why Christians (and churches) aren't doing what they've been commanded and commissioned to do. #disciplesmakedisciples