Common Excuses That Hinder Discipleship in Your Church: Favoritism

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By Craig Etheredge

Welcome to week five of our series on common excuses that hinder discipleship in your church. In case you’ve missed it, each week, we’ve been breaking down a common excuse that might be hindering your church’s discipleship goals.

In week one, we talked about how our schedules are usually the first excuse we fall back on. “I just don’t have time,” is the most common excuse we hear. But we have power and control over our schedules. We decide what we can make time for, and intentional discipleship should be one of the things we prioritize as church leaders.

During week two, we shared a more vulnerable excuse. Sometimes, the reason we hesitate to disciple someone directly and in person is  because we haven’t experienced that ourselves. However, the great thing about this is that God can work through that inexperience in ways we never imagined. Your inexperience is an opportunity for you to trust God to fill the areas where you fall short.

Week three discussed the question, “Is preaching enough to sustain the discipleship of my church?” The answer is no. Jesus spent part of His time teaching and part of His time intentionally seeking out people to disciple. As church leaders, we should be doing the same.

During week four, we talked about how everyone has a personality that can make disciples. God doesn’t exclude you if you’re introverted or extroverted. He may have wired you to be gifted at preaching, leading, serving, or something else entirely. He’s still called all of us to make disciples.

This week, we’re talking about one that tends to permeate a lot of church cultures.

“I can’t show favoritism by just focusing on a few people.”

Many pastors feel like there is no way they could invest in a few men because other men in the church would become jealous or resentful. It simply would not be politically wise to show preference to one certain group.

I realize that this may be more of an issue in some churches than in others. Some cultures are supersensitive to the pastor’s actions and pick up any whiff of preferential treatment. But again, Jesus didn’t let that hold him back.

Jesus clearly identified leaders (Matthew 4.18-19), and those leaders were the ones in which he invested his life. Almost every church  recognizes existing leaders and emerging leaders. That is often the best place to start. If a man is a recognized leader in the church, then people would expect the Pastor to be meeting with him.

So start with your leaders. If you have church staff, start with your staff. Then help those leaders to begin reproducing. Another benefit to starting with existing leaders is that you will have their influence and support when you later branch out to discipling new and emerging leaders.

This week, identify at least two people that you can focus on intentionally discipling. If you’re struggling to figure out who that might be, pray and ask God to make it clear to you.

This post was written by Craig Etheredge, and the excerpt appears in the book Bold Moves. Used with permission.

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