Common Excuses That Hinder Discipleship in Your Church: Isn’t Preaching Enough?

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by Craig Etheredge

Welcome back to our series, Common Excuses That Hinder Discipleship in Your Church. In week one, we talked about how our schedules are our most common excuse that prevents us from taking the time to emotionally invest in others. Week two explored the excuse that says we can’t disciple someone else because we’ve never experienced discipleship ourselves.

This week, we’re covering something we talk about often at discipleFIRST. It’s an excuse we find ourselves constantly battling in our ministry because we’ve seen what this mindset can do for a ministry. Does this excuse sound familiar to you?

“I invest in people through my preaching and counseling.”

Some pastors tell me that they don’t need to disciple anyone personally because they do that every week through their preaching and counseling ministry. While preaching and counseling are vitally important to a disciple-making church, they cannot replace the one on one, or small group training in a disciple-making relationship. Preaching is unilateral; I speak…you listen. Disciple making is back and forth conversation.

Preaching is information; disciple making is about life transformation. Preaching is about content; disciple making is about character. Preaching happens in the building; disciple making happens outside the building. Preaching tells a man what to do; disciple making shows a man what to do. Preaching is in-the-pew training; disciple making is on-the-job training.

In preaching, you are accountable to deliver God’s Word; in disciple making the other person is accountable to obey God’s Word. Preaching educates leaders; disciple making equips leaders. Preaching can’t be reproduced; disciple making is intended to be reproduced.

There is a big difference between preaching and disciple making. Both are needed. Jesus did both very well. However, Jesus spent four times as much time discipling his men as he did preaching to the crowds. Four to one. That shows you the importance of disciple making in the life of Jesus.

None of this is to say that your sermons don’t matter. Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive an inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” When you prepare a sermon, you should be putting every effort into it knowing that God will speak through you to help you shepherd your church. But do you put the same attention and focus into your disciple making efforts?

If you are treating your disciple making as an afterthought, or even a byproduct of your sermon or church programming, you aren’t giving it the intention that Jesus exemplified during His ministry here on earth.

Disciple making goes beyond a 30-minute message on a Sunday morning; disciple making extends into every day of the week.

Are you giving disciple making the intention and focus that Jesus has called you to? If not, what steps will you take today to make that happen?

By Craig Etheredge. This post first appeared here at discipleFIRST. Used with permission.

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