Challenge in Discipleship

Personal and Private

One major problem revealed by this research is that millions of Christians believe that discipleship is only a personal thing with only personal and private implications. This can be attributed to what the Christians experience in their churches. There is minimal emphasis on the communal and relational nature of spiritual growth. Only one-third of Christian adults report that their church recommends meeting with a spiritual mentor. Half of their churches publically endorse studying the Bible with a group, and half recommend studying the Bible independently. 

One of the compelling findings of the study is that developmental relationships are more common in large or megachurches. Seventy-eight percent or 8 out of 10 church leaders of 500+ member churches report being currently discipled by someone else. This study further reveals how church pastors and leaders approach discipleship. When asked about the most eective single method of discipleship, 52% of church leaders prefer small groups and 29% for discipleship by pairs. Therefore, small groups are the disciple-making approach favored by most of today’s church leaders. 

Structure vs. Heart

Pastors and leaders agreed that the most critical elements of discipleship are the matters of the heart and not of the structure. Aside from prayer and quiet time with God, the pastors believe that spiritual disciplines are also essential to discipleship, such as “personal commitment to grow in Christlikeness,” “attending a local church,” and “a deep love for God.” According to pastors, having “a comprehensive discipleship curriculum” is by far the least essential element of eective discipleship. Only 44% of pastors considered the curriculum as crucial.  

Furthermore, when asked how church pastors and leaders will improve their discipleship programs, most say they would “develop a more clearly articulated plan or approach to discipleship.” Church leaders and congregants need better methods of discipleship approach and evaluating the effectiveness of their discipleship eorts.

 

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