Overcoming the Most Difficult Hurdle to Disciplemaking

Overcoming the Most Difficult Hurdle to Disciplemaking

It is not very difficult to help believers see that they need to obey the Great Commission. Once it has been made clear that the imperative in the Great Commission is to “make disciples,” those that follow Jesus at least understand the need. It can be difficult, but not overly so, to train people to make disciples. And it is challenging but still doable to track the disciplemaking process in the life of the church over time to gauge its effectiveness and continue training and equipping people to obey Christ’s command. These are all difficulties and challenges, but they are not the greatest hurdle. The most significant hurdle to disciplemaking in the church is actually change. Or, better stated, navigating change.

When we begin to implement disciplemaking in our churches, we have to make shifts in how ministry is currently done. To be successful, we need to ensure our metrics effectively gauge success based upon a healthy biblical discipleship model. While the context of your church will determine how much change is needed, it is inevitably true that some change must take place. I have found that church leaders struggle with this issue above all others when working to navigate the implementation process. The fact is, people do not like change. This challenge is as old as the color of the carpet and music style arguments of the past (and, sadly many still deal with these challenges). But the truth remains: if we want to build a healthy church focused on the Great Commission to make disciples who make disciplemakers, we will need to overcome the hurdle of navigating change.

How do you change something? Simply stated, you move from the current outcome to a different outcome. If you have a flat tire, you remove it and put on a spare tire. If your hair is too long you get a haircut. If you don’t like your shirt you put on a different one. These are simple changes that are made all the time. But what about the bigger, cultural changes, that are needed to implement a different model of ministry? Big change that shifts the course of the battleship to sail in another direction, often the exact opposite direction. This kind of change requires careful navigation, prayer, and the foundation of the Word of God. The good news is, with the Great Commission, we have the scriptural grounding necessary. Here are three practices that will help you overcome the hurdle of navigating change to implement disciplemaking.

Go All In as Leaders.

Change has to start with the leaders. That means the Pastor, the staff team, and the key volunteers. They must all buy in to the new direction. No matter how small the tweaks are that need to be made to implement disciplemaking, change is change. The leadership must be on the same page or it will be very difficult to move forward and if there is movement, it will be excruciatingly slow as leadership hampers the process. To get leadership onboard and aligned behind the disciplemaking process you can work together to ask key questions: Why are we doing this? What is our desired outcome? What will happen if we don’t do this? Regardless of the answers, you must come together to make change happen. These conversations will help shape consistent dialogue that can be used to help implement the change. As the leadership begins to implement discipleship on a personal level, the ability to share the process with the congregation will strengthen. People are much more willing to embrace change that they see modeled before them by leadership that has gone all in.

Change has to start with the leaders. That means the Pastor, the staff team, and the key volunteers. They must all buy in to the new direction. No matter how small the tweaks are that need to be made to implement disciplemaking, change is change. Click To Tweet

Test the Water.

It is absolutely unnecessary to make sweeping change without testing the waters. As a matter of fact, it is foolish to make change without testing the waters. Dip a toe into the proposed change before diving in. Make a small tweak and observe the response. Continue this process until you have been able to determine if you are on the right track. It is far better to take a small misstep than to speed down the highway in the wrong direction. Ask people questions. Mention some possible implementation elements. See what the response is. At a minimum, you will better understand the mindset of the people you are leading to change. At best, the way forward will become crystal clear. But remember, there is no way to have absolute clarity here. That’s why change is hard and that is why you are called a leader. Help people move in the right direction but test the waters as you move ahead.

Move at the Speed of Context.

Perhaps you’ve been told that proper change takes a long time. Conversely, you may have been taught to simply power through quickly and let the chips fall where they may, after all, you are doing the right thing…right? I believe wisdom moves at the speed of context. In some situations, you will be able to take quick action, and that will be the most effective timing. In other elements of the implementation, you will need to move more slowly. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you as you pray through the process and proceed at the speed of His direction. Timing is tricky, yielding to the Lord must be primary as we take action. As you pray, seek God, and lead well, you will determine the proper pace of the implementation.

Shocker: Sometimes people resist going in a new direction. That is part of all change. But the key to trust God. If you are clear on what the Word says (and it is incredibly clear: Make Disciples), then moving toward obedience as a congregation is the right thing to do. And while change will inevitably be a part of any new process, you can overcome this hurdle by going all in, testing the water, and moving at the proper pace as the Holy Spirit leads you.

Sometimes people resist going in a new direction. That is part of all change. But the key is to trust God. If you are clear on what the Word says (and it is incredibly clear: Make Disciples), then moving toward obedience as a congregation is the right… Click To Tweet

Do you want to hear more from Replicate Ministries? Subscribe to our podcast to get weekly updates!

Chris Swain currently serves at Long Hollow Baptist Church as the Executive Director of Replicate Ministries. After fours years of service in the United States Marine Corps, Chris served in full-time ministry for 14 years in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, and Georgia, leading ministries ranging from Students, to Collegiate, to Spiritual Formation. Most recently, Chris served as the Director of Student Ministry Publishing at Lifeway Christian Resources serving the Church in its mission of making disciples. Chris’s heart is to expand the Gospel through disciple-making in the local church.