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5 Broken Views on Discipleship and How to Fix Them

3. We equate discipleship with our preaching.

I’m just going to say it: Pastors, move beyond your arrogance and stop thinking your preaching is enough to be the church’s discipleship strategy.

This is not just my opinion. Recent research done by LifeWay Research indicates that 56 percent of pastors surveyed believe that their weekly sermon, or another one of their teaching times such as Sunday evenings/Wednesday evenings, was the most important discipling ministry in the church.

While it is great to see the recent renaissance of Bible-based preaching, along with it we have to jettison the idea that, “If people just listen to my sermons, they will grow spiritually.”

Instead, discipleship is a daily process. Pastors, we have to develop more robust discipleship plans than just our weekly messages.

Discipleship is not a Sunday event, it is a daily commitment.

4. We think that we will grow without effort.

For many, they think that God saved them and now they should just go to church and maybe stay away from the really big sins. They are unintentional in tending to their spiritual growth.

Sadly, we have not done much to change this.

Instead, we need to understand that the scripture teaches that each person is to not be a passive spectator, but rather to “work out your own salvation” (Phil. 2:12). Discipleship takes every believer’s intentional effort.

Yes, effort.

Believers must take steps to grow, and that is in line with grace.

Notice that this passage does not say “work on your own salvation” or “work toward” it. You cannot. It is by grace and through faith. However, as a believer, you do take effort to grow—but that does not earn you a relationship with God, it just puts you in the right place where God can grow you as a believer, saved by grace.

As Dallas Willard has explained, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.”

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is the Dean of Talbot School of Theology at Biola Univeristy and Scholar in Residence & Teaching Pastor at Mariners Church. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches; trained pastors and church planters on six continents; earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates; and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the Editor-in-Chief of Outreach Magazine, and regularly writes for news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Dr. Stetzer is the host of "The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast," and his national radio show, "Ed Stetzer Live," airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates.