Why Pastors don’t make disciples

by Bill Hull

There is a tendency to think that only pastors in the West and the Northern Hemisphere are committed to not make disciples. I would suggest that I hear the same reasoning from leaders whether they be in Viet Nam, Pakistan, Omaha or Chicago. First of all there is a great deal of confusion among pastors about what making disciples or discipleship actually is. This comes from a pastoral training that places its emphasis on preaching, worship style, and growing churches. These are all subsets of the only thing we have been authorized to do, make disciples. [Mt. 28:18-20] Pastors tend to say,” I’ve never really been discipled myself, and look, I made it.” Or another variation, ” I haven’t been through it, so I don’t really know how to do it myself.” And or, ” I am a preacher, I delegate discipleship to lay people or staff, its really good for them, they really dig it.” A very common excuse is, ” I’m do busy running the church.” What allows pastors to do this is they have preached a gospel that is separate from discipleship. Another way to put it is that they preach a gospel of salvation that doesn’t include discipleship. Discipleship is not required for salvation, so it is less important than getting people to decide for Christ. This kind of thinking is dangerous, debilitating and I would like to drive a stake through its heart. I am going to talk about this in future blogs, but let me end this way for now-the answer to our marginalized and weakened church is a redefinition of what is means to be a Christian. It begins with a gospel that includes discipleship, discipleship is not a program or an option, it is a life of following Jesus. The gospel calls us to follow Christ, it expects transformation to normative. Pastors are confused about it, it does include some vulnerability and real apprenticeship, something many leaders are not acquainted with. Until next time ponder this question, ” Do you need to be following Christ in discipleship to be a Christian?”

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