10 Barriers to Disciple Making

“Making Disciples” is the church’s assignment given directly from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 28:19. It should always be on our minds and hearts as we lead our churches forward for the glory of Christ. You probably know this verse by heart but look at it with new eyes. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit….” (NASU)

How is your church doing in making disciples? Do you have a plan or process? Is it even discussed in staff meetings, church council meetings, or sermons?

Churches do lots of good things. Most churches are busy places with activities, programs, and schedules that are full.

If we could win the world by being busy it would have already happened!

Being a busy church is not necessarily bad, as long as those activities are focused on producing spiritual fruit, i.e. making disciples.

Aubrey Malphurs is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and one who believes that our churches must get back to disciple making. Recently I was in a conference he led based on his book, Strategic Disciple Making.
He made four points about the state of the church:

  1. American churches are struggling;
  2. Number of “churched” is declining;
  3. Number of cults and non-Christian groups is growing;
  4. The church landscape is rapidly declining.

Probably all of us would agree to these four descriptions of what every church is facing regardless of where our church is located or what size it is. Most churches that I am familiar with are facing some challenge, either internally or externally or both.

Dr. Malphurs shared ten major barriers that churches are facing as they strive to make a difference in their community and make disciples:

  1. Lack of vision;
  2. Lack of outreach and passion;
  3. Congregations not willing to change;
  4. Lack of leadership-intentional leader training;
  5. Lack of prayer;
  6. Lack of unity;
  7. Congregation too comfortable;
  8. Little ownership of mission/purpose;
  9. Resistant power structures;
  10. Church unwilling to adapt to a changing culture.

In our meeting with Dr. Malphurs we discussed each of these barriers and how we could help our churches overcome these obstacles. Over the next few blogs we are going to look at each of these in more detail.

Why not evaluate your church by looking at these 10 obstacles. What are the top three that is holding your church back from making disciples? What are you plans to remove these obstacles so that you can move your church forward?

Before real change happens in a church or in our personal lives, we must honestly and prayerfully evaluate where we are. Where are you today? Check out the coming series focusing on these obstacles.


  1. Great words Kevin. We must be authentic and if you spend time with Jesus He will reveal all of our facade. The church must get back to the basics and follow the Acts model for growth in numbers and in our spiritual growth.

  2. Phillip thank for your response. I don’t think most churches know what a disciple is so we’ve got lots to do in teaching and leading our churches forward in this area.

  3. I wonder if churches understand the true Biblical definition of ‘disciple’. Is another video driven Bible study ‘making disciples’ yet this is the type of study that is being offered in many churches under the title ‘discipleship’.

  4. Real change will never happen in todays “Church” until the people within that church become REAL. Our congregations employ the “Stained Glass Masquerade” (title from Casting Crowns) facad and we expect to fill the pews? We put on a mask of Godliness then bicker and lie amongst ourselves. How can we reach out with the truth unless we speak truthfuly to our brothers in Christ or most importantly to ourselves.

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