Even though we are commanded to make disciples and Jesus gives us a simple three step method to follow, we have trouble following His command. We have trouble because we encounter barriers. The list of barriers we encounter can be a mile long. There are a lot of things that hinder us from making disciples. I can’t cover all of them, nor do I know all of them, so let me offer you five.
Barriers to Making Disciples
Let’s be honest, we all have a lot going on – work, church, kids and grandkids sporting events, school, friends, family – are just a few things that compete for our time on a weekly basis. With all these things going on, we might think we don’t have the time to make disciples.
But here is the problem with that line of thinking, Jesus commands us to make disciples. In Matthew 28 Jesus says,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28)
So Jesus commands us to make making disciples a priority in our lives, which means we have to do it.
Reading those words, you are probably thinking: “Great, one more thing to had to my schedule.” But what if I told you making disciples doesn’t have to be another thing you add to you schedule. Remember Jesus’ idea of “go” is “as you are going” you are to be making disciples. If we do that, if we focus on making disciples as we are going, it won’t be something extra to add to our schedule because it would be apart of the natural rhythm of our lives. So while you are at the football game or the school play, or whatever else it is that you are doing, you can be making disciples. You can be meeting others with the intention of building a relationship and speaking the truth of God’s Word into their lives.
Personally, that is why I spend a lot of time at Starbucks. I am going to prepare sermons every week, so why not do that in place where I can meet people, build relationships with them, and either encourage them in their Christian walk, or share the gospel with them. I have to tell you, I have had a lot of conversations with people through the years at Starbucks.
So while busyness can be a barrier to making disciples, it does not have to be, if we incorporate making disciples into the natural rhythm of our lives.
One fear you might have is that you won’t know what to say. While that is a real fear, we don’t have to let it keep us from making disciples. You see, Jesus hasn’t left us alone. At the end of verse 20 in Matthew 28, He says,
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Mt 28:20b)
So as we are going about our day, Jesus is with us and He will give us what we need to make disciples.
Another fear you might have is that someone will respond negatively to your message. While that is a real fear, a fear I personally have, research tells us that only about 5% of people in the States will be hostile to the message of the gospel.
You know, I think that is true. Even though I am afraid of how people will react, personally I have never had anyone outright attack me because I talked with them about the gospel and only a few people have been rude. For the most part, everyone I have ever engaged in a gospel conversation has been respectful.
So while fear can be a real barrier to us making disciples, it doesn’t have to be because Jesus promises He will be with us and most people we engage will be receptive and polite.
(3) A loss of your first love
What I mean by that is that something else has captured your attention. Something has become more important to you, more exciting. You see, we talk about that which we are excited. That which we love. Think about your favorite restaurant or vacation spot. You share those things with people because they excite you.
But if you think about it, what is more exciting than the gospel? What is more exciting than knowing Jesus has willingly died in your place so that you might have life? If we are truly a believer, nothing should be more exciting than that.
So if you have lost your first love, if something has become more exciting than the gospel to you, then you need to meditate on the gospel. You need to preach the gospel to yourself until that excitement returns and you want to share that with other people.
(4) I need to get my life right first
But here is the thing, if we wait to get our life right before we make disciples, we are never going to make disciples because our life is never going to be completely right. Becoming a fully mature disciple of Christ is a process; a process that takes a lifetime.
Plus, Jesus never said we need to get our life right first before we can make disciples. Remember, His idea of “go” is “as you are going” As you are going through life. As you are growing in your Christian walk, you should be making disciples. You should be bringing others along on the journey with you to be more like Christ.
(5) I am just a sinner saved by grace, what right do I have to speak into another person’s life.
That is true — you are a sinner saved by grace. But you have been given a commandment by Jesus to make disciples. And as Jesus’ disciple you are an ambassador of Jesus.
You know what Ambassadors do? They speak on behalf of another. Nations have Ambassadors. The United States has ambassadors. When they go to another country, they have the right to speak on behalf of our country. That is the same for us. As Christians we are Ambassadors of Jesus and we have the right to speak on behalf of Him.
Now when we speak to others we don’t do it harshly. We are sinners saved by grace so we need to exercise grace and mercy when we speak to others.
But the point is we have the right to speak to others. We have the right to make disciples and we have been given that right by Jesus.
So those are some of the barriers to making disciples. Admittedly, those can be difficult for us to overcome. They can take a lot of work for us to overcome. So why?
Why should we fight to Overcome These Barriers?
Fighting to overcome these barriers and making disciples is the only way our country is going to turn around. As well as if we don’t do it — if we don’t make disciples — no one else will. You see, we are God’s plan. God uses disciples to make disciples. So if we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it.
Question for Reflection
- What barriers have you faced in making disciples? How did you overcome them?
Post adapted from the sermon: Disciples Make Disciples
5 thoughts on “What are the Barriers to Making Disciples?”
Too often I want to be a disciple they way I think it should be instead of calling out to God and listening/watching for what and where he wants me to go. I get in the way of being a true disciple with my own desires instead of discerning God’s will for me.
I think you are right. We do get in the way. Thanks for the insight.
Tx for blessing us with that word.(i particularly enjoy your use of starbucks…)..however most of what you have described (per 1st encounters) is making ‘converts/believers’ ( which is d 1st stage in discipleship)
Mark 8:34 tells us…
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me
When we evangelise, we ‘preach’ to the multitide (the people/the crowd)..a motley group made up of ‘unbelievers/believers/followers/etc)….the qualification for ‘discipleship’ is sacrifice!…Those whom respond to our preaching & agree to ‘Deny themaelves, Take up their cross daily & follow him’ (to become as he is)…
Your spot on about ‘go’ being ‘as you go along’…we must understand however that making disciples requires perseverance on our part….
The 10 lepers were believers (cos faith was required for their healing)…however it was the 1 who returned who was prepared for discipleship..
I think we preach to the multitide, but Teach disciples ..thus we must learn how to share our time more effectively between both groups..
Grace to us all…
Sure most of the barriers I listed have to do with evangelizing the lost, which I see as a component of making disciples. I don’t see evangelism – winning someone to Christ – and helping a believer become a fully mature follower of Christ as two separate things. They are both making disciples.
I do agree we need to split our time between the two. Or better yet find ways to bring both together. Why not have a “discipleship meeting” with someone at a public place. Or hold a Bible study at a regular breakfast restaurant.
I really appreciates you for enlightened me to be one of the Ambassadors of christ today.. Thank you God’s blessings continually be with you..Amen.
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