10 Barriers to Disciples Making, Part 4 (Change)

“Making Disciples” is the church’s assignment given directly from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 28:19. Aubrey Malphurs is a prolific writer and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. Recently I was in a conference he led based on his book, Strategic Disciple Making. Dr. Malphurs shared ten major barriers that churches are facing as they strive to make a difference in their community and make disciples. We are looking at these components more closely in the next several blogs. Here’s his list again.

  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.

Congregations not willing to change… What year is it at your church? You might quickly say that it is 2009 but is it really? What about your methods and ministries, do they reflect what year it is or is it 1969 or 1980 or 1995? Does your building look like it is a happening place or something happened to the building? Is your weekly schedule the same as it was 10 years ago? Does your bulletin look the same?

None of us like change. We are more comfortable doing the same things over and over because that is the easy route. I don’t have to learn anything new if I just keep doing what I already know to do.

There is only one reason to make a change in a church setting. The reason… to do something different (that’s the change part) that is more effective for the kingdom of God (that’s the reason part). To change just to be changing is not a good reason. To change because other churches are doing something different and we copy them, is not a good reason. The only reason to move a church in a new direction or introduce a new ministry or a new way of conducting business meetings, or staff alignment, etc. is because it produces kingdom results. Jesus is looking for fruit which denotes results. John 15:8 says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

When planning for change the reason must be biblical and kingdom focused. Jesus expects us to bear fruit and for our churches to bear fruit.

The message (God’s Word, the Gospel) never changes, but the methods are always changing! Most of our heated arguments in church settings are not over theology or the message but over our personal preferences or favored methods.

When a church prays about God’s vision for them and seeks His wisdom and direction, that church will be ready to embrace change. Blackaby taught us this reality principle from Experiencing God, “You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.” In other words, churches cannot stay where they are and go with God. They must be willing to make changes as God leads them forward. Leaders must lead this change in a constructive, positive way. Leaders must understand and manage the process of change.

If we keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing we will always get the same results. To even expect different results from doing the same things is idiotic. It will not happen. For some churches, change does not happen because there is no faith to attempt something new or different. Churches should always evaluate every activity and event; worship, Sunday School, small groups, outreach, etc. with the question, “Can we do it better?” To improve on your present ministries will always require change. To be more effective for the kingdom requires change. Are you willing to change? In our spiritual walk with the Lord, we must make changes in order to grow and be closer to the Lord.

So is it 1958 or 1962 or 1981 or 1995 in your church? Don’t be afraid of change that produces results for the kingdom. Remember, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Everything else will change. If you don’t believe me look in a full length mirror!

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