Ten Barriers To Disciple Making, Part 5 (Leadership)

“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.

Lack of leadership-intentional leader training…What would happen in (or to) your church, if this Sunday you had ten new leaders who were trained and ready to serve the Lord?

These new leaders are so well equipped and motivated that they can serve anywhere they are needed; Sunday School, key committees or teams, greeters, music ministry, preschool ministry, etc. In most churches 8-10 additional leaders who love the Lord and are trained to serve, would move the church to the next level in ministry, attendance, and outreach. It would revitalize the church.

In consulting with churches of all sizes, locations, budgets, and ministries; the one common need I hear most is…we need more leaders! Lack of leaders is a common barrier in moving churches forward in all areas of church life including discipleship.

One of our issues is that we are all aware of this problem but we never do anything to fix it. We talk about the need for more trained leaders and often complain about how poorly equipped our folks are but we never do anything to grow our folks to become better leaders. We know we need more leaders, but we never work to produce or train our leaders. An investment of your time in “leader development” will pay huge dividends. Offering some basic training in leadership or taking present leaders like Sunday School teachers and offering them training does make a difference.

When I was serving as a pastor or on a church staff, we would always offer at least a yearly major training event to equip, train, and motivate our teachers to improve in their assignment. It was one of the best things we did because it not only raised the bar for leaders but increased the vision of serving the Lord with excellence. We usually picked up new leaders from these training events too! Leaders will keep doing the same things at the same level unless they get new information and input about how to do their ministry assignment more effectively.

Mentoring new leaders takes time but it is a proven way to grow your leadership base. “One on one” allows you the time to really impact someone and challenge them in their leadership journey. We often argue over whether leaders are born or grown but I think it is both. Yes there are people who are gifted leaders from the get go.  However, most leaders will admit that they are still learning and growing and willing to move forward with new insights and knowledge. Both can benefit from training.

Leaders and church growth are connected. The larger your leadership base the more ministry is being accomplished in your church. I served a church once and we decided we needed to double our leader base in 18 months. The Lord allowed us to do that and the outcome was that the church grew in numbers, baptisms, and offerings. The future of any organization depends on the leaders in that organization. Everything rises of falls on leadership. Discipleship is about growing people in their walk with Christ.  Discipleship ministry produces leaders in the church.

According to leadership expert John C. Maxwell, leadership is the key to success in any organization. He charts it like this in his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998, p. 225]

  • Personnel determine the potential of the organization.
  • Relationships determine the morale of the organization.
  • Structure determines the size of the organization.
  • Vision determines the direction of the organization.
  • Leadership determines the success of the organization.

When is the next leader training event in your church?

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