Churches are failing to disciple

There is an article entitled, “Most Protestants Fall Short of Spiritual Maturity” that says in summary, “most Protestant churchgoers are not where they should be in their spiritual formation.” I would have to agree. Most of us have no idea what spiritual maturity IS, let alone how to form it in others.

It seems to me that this same problem exists in all denominations, protestant and catholic alike. I do not think denomination, nor the size of the church matters. We have seen this issue with small churches as well as large churches. We have seen this problem with the RCC and with protestant denoninations. Our churches not under persecution suffer this same fate worldwide.

The problem is mutli-fold: 1) many leaders do not believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, 2) many leaders are not living surrendered lives, 3) many do no evangelism, 4) many have no idea how to build disciples, 5) we allow sin to go unchecked within our churches, 6) we place as much (or more) value on what man has to say as what God has to say. There may be other issues I have not yet considered as well.

Not all denominations require seminary for leadership, but even for those who DO go to seminary, they are ill prepared for the rigors of spiritual leadership in the home, let alone in ministry outside the home. There needs to be classes in spiritual growth and direction. But more than that, there needs to be internships with focus on the spiritual maturity and growth of the leader him/herself. I wrote something on this the other day, one dealing with seminaries not preparing our leaders, and the other with us not preparing our children and youth.

But even so, our leaders need to be in prayer and in the word of God. Regardless of whether you hold to the traditions of the church being equally important as the written word of God, it is God’s word and His Holy Spirit that changes us through our expressions of faith, such as surrender, trust in Him, and obedience to Him. We need to teach this to our leaders, as well as the general congregation.

Christ has a model few of us follow: 1 on 1, 1 on 3, 1 on 12, 1 on 70, 1 on 120, 1 on the multitude. WE fail to follow Christ in this area as well. I can count on one hand the number of pastors I know in a Barnabus:Paul:Timothy relationship. I can count on one hand the number of churches I am aware of who have an active disciple program other than Sunday School and/or small groups. These groups are helpful, but how many are growing their leaders? No, most (if not all) of our churches in areas where there is no persecution are failing in the area of spiritual growth and discipling believers.

6 Responses

  1. Hi wbmoore,

    From my personal experience, the key to discipleship is not education it is surrender; surrender to God in prayer to put His will first in your life.


  2. Hi wbmoore,

    I think that a believer needs to make Jesus Lord of their life whether that means putting God’s will first in their life, surrendering to God to live for God, or whatever is right for the particular believer. Then when they are exposed to what God desires for them or requires of them thru education, studying the Word of God, listening to a teacher or preacher or God revealing what He wants for them thru prayer, or what ever means God’s has to communicate His Will to them they will surrender or they will be more likely to implement that in their life. For me it was a combination of things and I suspect it is that way for others as well.

  3. Hi Pat. I think you’re right. The key is a continually surrendered life. The language is unimportant – it all means th same.

    I think part of the problem is that people do not understand what it means to surrender their will to God. Especially in the USA, many have no concept of willingly subjugating themselves to something higher than themselves – we have such big egos, “self-made-man” and all that.

    But I think it begins and ends with God. We have to let Holy Spirit use the sword that is the word of God to work in people’s hearts. We have to teach what it means to repent and turn to God through faith in Christ and then we need to call them to repent. Many have either not heard the Gospel or not understood it because of the heresy of easy believism or legalism. And many of those who have understood some part of it get easily side tracked away from the word of God and God Himself. We need grow followers of Christ, not pew warmers.

    It DOES take a surrendered life. But it also takes discipline. And knowledge. Both of the latter come from reading the word, which comes from being taught. We need to model to people how to surrender and how to continue to surrender. We need to model obedience. This is such a foreign concept to so many people.

  4. Hi wbmoore,

    God needs to deal with the person’s heart about surrendering their lives to Him and making Him Lord. Without surrender from the heart to do the will of God there will be no lasting faithfulness to God. Those who have need to pray for those who haven’t. God works through prayer.


  5. Yes, I agree, God DOES need to deal with a person’s heart. But we can not forget that God works through both prayer AND through His word. Surrender involves turning everything to God. I’ve evangelized and discipled a number of people. The one’s who truly surrendered were those who had been given sufficient information to realize what surrender was really about. The rest heard and responded, but there was little or no evidence a changed life. I find I do not want to be used to make people make a profession of faith, but I would rather be used to make disciples. I think it takes both prayer and the word of God.

  6. Remember Pat, we are instructed to instruct people in the hope that God will grant them repentance.

    2 Timothy 2:25
    Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,

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