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5 Reasons We Don't Disciple

By Ajith Fernando

Photo by Nicholas Safran on Unsplash

1. Culturally, people are not open to the kind of vulnerability that discipling entails.

When leaders sense this reluctance of members to be open about their lives, they can shy away from trying to establish discipling relationships. However, I have found that sometimes the perseverance of leaders in attempting to establish close ties with potential disciplees bears fruit resulting in members becoming open to vibrant discipling relationships.

2. Many leaders are not willing to give the time and commitment that discipling requires.

Those who disciple others need to be open to a life of regular frustration and groaning. Jesus had the frustration of seeing his disciples make some of their biggest mistakes right at the end of their training period. But those disciples started the largest and most significant movement the world has ever seen!

3. Discipling relationships have been abused through the excesses of insecure disciplers.

To overcome the pitfalls of insecurity in discipling, it is essential that disciplers ensure that there is a healthy balance in their lives and ministries. They need to work toward finding their primary satisfaction from God and not from their ministry. Leaders also need to ensure that their other primary relationships are healthy, such as their relationships with family and the wider body of Christ.

4. There is a fear that if disciplers concentrate on a few people, the rest of the people will be neglected.

It is impossible for leaders of large groups to ensure that they personally care like parents for the needs of all their members. But they must ensure that everyone is personally cared for. The best way to do that is by training people to share in the load of caring. That is what happens in a church that intentionally gives itself to discipling.

Disciplees also should be taught to consciously socialize with those outside their group. This helps avoid the discipleship group becoming viewed as a “clique” that is not fully one with the rest of the church.

5. Discipling is a spiritually strenuous activity.

Discipling often involves battling for the souls of individuals (see Col. 4:12). This can be emotionally draining. Some avoid this activity because they don’t think they have the spiritual energy to make such an investment. However, discipling can become a major source of spiritual refreshment. The battle for souls, especially through prayer, deepens our relationship with God.

Taken from 5 Reasons Why We Don’t Disciple by Ajith Fernando, adapted from the ESV Study Bible. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

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