4 Reasons Why Most Discipleship Plans Fail

Leadership means training leaders.

This is perhaps the most frequently asked question in ministry all across the globe. In fact, in the last decade of being in local church ministry, I believe it is the most stated need I hear from leaders. Why? Because we just don’t see it very often. The truth of the reality is this; Every church needs leaders. Leaders don’t just magically show up at the front door of our churches that many hope and dream for.

In fact, was in a conversation just yesterday of hearing within our own church someone was just dumped into a position without clear expectation and guidance. Leadership crisis seems to be at the left-right-center that causes great frustration.

As Peter Drucker said it so well, “to keep the main thing the main thing.” If leadership is simply training leaders, then we must accurately assess individuals and identify and begin to systematically be developed and train them up.

In order to build up the kind of leaders that will champion the faith well into the future, here are four reasons why leadership development fail ins most church discipleship and how we can avoid it.


1. For the Bible; for we ignore the simple biblical mandate that tells us to do so.

I couldn’t help but recognize the similarity to Paul’s description of the task of church leaders, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12). Leadership is building and equipping and preparing others to do the ministry to accomplish the church’s objective. A biblical model of church leadership is necessary for the church to display the glory to the nation.

Now, methods will always varies. We see examples in the scripture of disciple-making such as;

  • Matthew 28:20, Missionary to teach the nation what all Jesus commanded
  • Acts 20:24, Pricilla and Apollos explain the ways of the Lord to Apollos perhaps in better way.
  • Ephesians 6:4, Father are to train their children.
  • 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul trained young Timothy and him train others to train others.
  • Titus 2:4, Older women train younger women.
  • 1 Peter 4:10, All Christian to use the gift to train.
  • Hebrews 3:13, All Christian are to exhort every day and stir one another up.

2. For the Lost; for we neglect to pass on to the next genereation for the sake of the future church.

An explicit gospel call, with an invitation for decision, ought to be present in disciple making. Ultimately, “disciples making” is inviting others to live and love like Jesus and we are inviting others to do so as well. People need to be taught about Christ and to think, feel, act like Christ and to embrace Him as Lord and Savior.

Making disciples requires initial evangelism, but it doesn’t end there. Discipleship (Leadership Development) cannot end with evangelism. For many churches, they end there.

Making disciples is inviting others to follow Christ.

Therefore, when we have been committed by Christ, we have to not only make converts, but to make disciples who obey Jesus commands in every way.

3. For the Church; for it is NOT about you!

We need leadership in place to do the work of the ministry, but we also have to raise these leaders to replace us if needed, but also for those that God could be sending out in different areas as well.

The leadership doesn’t always stay the same as it is as we hope it to be whether relocation, death or misconduct by the leadership. We must make sure you have enough people who are qualified, called and trained to do the work of the ministry if the current leadership has a shift.

For most of the churches, they don’t have a plan in making disciples. Why? Because they don’t see beyond themselves.

As Dallas Willard famously said it well,

“Every Church needs to be able to answer two questions. One, do we have a plan for making disciples? Two, Does our plan work?”

4. For the World; for we fail to recognize the Global Mission starting from the Local Church.

I can’ help to recognize in the life of Paul instructing young Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim 2:2). Paul prays to deploy these devoted faithful future followers of Jesus to the nations. This task of the local church is critical to the mission of Christ.

We should have a similar desire.

It doesn’t matter whether a mega-church or a small rural size churches, there are some large churches that have no plan whatsoever to train leaders from inside. They will rather bring people from the outside but not train from the inside.

What if everyone in your church saw their primary vocation as being a harvest and kingdom worker? As D. L. Moody said if famously, “No one can sum up all God is able to accomplish through one solitary life, wholly yielded, adjusted, and obedient to Him.”



Does your church have an intentional development plan to disciple and deploy believers to live out the Great Commission? Does this happen haphazardly? Or when someone comes to your church and would even notice that as the main thing the people live for?

Discipleship is one of the most important task that a local church can do. However, some church leaders honestly keep themselves busy just to hide their laziness. Or perhaps some seek their own job security or makes excuses and resistant to change as it’s the easy way out. Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.

Churches have to say no to doing good things all the time in order to prioritize the few things Jesus has clearly called the church to do.

Of course, as we look to Christ himself, Jesus was the greatest at developing leaders. His life was characterized by disciple-making. He constantly poured his life and soul into a handful of disciples. He taught them to be disciple-makers and trusted that future generations would hear the Good News because of their witness.

We are a part of that great plan of God, and it spans from generation to generation. Let us not grow weary in doing good! The tireless effort to train, equip, build leaders for the sake of God’s glory. Through God’s grace and our guidance, they may witness God do more than we could ever imagine.

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