I have written other posts about discipleship in the church, including how to evaluate a discipleship strategy and how not to fix that process. In future posts, I’ll look at how to strengthen a church’s discipling approach. For this post, though, here are 10 results our Lawless Group consultants have seen when a church does not do discipleship well.
- Biblical illiteracy. Listening to sermons and attending small groups are great for learning the Word, but many believers who attend both still know very little of the Word. Strong discipleship deepens the knowledge gained and helps believers apply biblical truths.
- Faith struggles. That’s what happens when people don’t really know the Word. That lack of knowledge makes it difficult to trust God when believers face their own obstacles and impossibilities.
- Inward focus. Churches typically default into an inward focus; that is, their attention is more on themselves than others. Only an intentional strategy to direct believers to the Word and the Great Commission can change that focus. That’s what discipleship does.
- Lost church members. People must know the gospel to respond to the gospel and to proclaim the gospel to others. Apart from being taught and equipped, how can they know the gospel enough to evaluate their own lives and then evangelize others?
- Unqualified leaders. Churches often select leaders based on their faithfulness and willingness. Both of these characteristics matter, but poor discipleship sometimes leads to faithful, willing, yet unqualified people in leadership positions.
- Continual whiners. This one is almost inevitable when discipleship is lacking. Baby believers remain babies unless they are fed and learn to feed themselves. Babies who never grow up, but who nevertheless lead, often become whiners.
- Sin struggles. One reason believers wrestle continually with sin is that they have never been taught how to deal with temptation. It’s tough to win a battle when you don’t understand the armor you have to wear.
- Weak families. Even healthy Christian marriages and strong God-centered parenting are the result of discipleship. When we assume couples and parents will just “get it right” apart from the church’s teaching, we’re often proven wrong.
- Powerless churches. God’s blessing falls on churches that walk with Him in obedience and pray to Him in dependence. Undiscipled people, however, seldom do either one—and the church goes through the motions without the power of God.
- Generational problems. When one generation is not discipled, the next generation also pays a price. The unhealthy, unbiblical cycle continues, and the church suffers for decades—though (and here’s part of the tragedy), they don’t always recognize the problem because they haven’t been equipped to do so.
What other results of weak discipleship have you seen?