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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

New Believer Discipleship: Challenges Pastors Face

Updated: May 2

Every pastor loves it when brand new people repent of sin, and trust in Christ for salvation! But in a busy world, there are lots of challenges to making sure that new life in Christ is nurtured and maintained until the new Christian is fully mature. When there are new believers, there are new challenges with discipleship.

I recently asked my email list if they had any particular suggestions and frustrations in this area of getting new Christians established in their walk with God.

Here’s what they said: (click the graphic to read their emails…)

#1: “Honestly, I don’t have a good plan in place. I’m winging it every time.

complaints about difficulty with discipleship

There’s nothing wrong with seeking the direction of the Spirit, and knowing what a specific new convert needs! It’s the privilege of the sons of God to be led by the Spirit of God!

But a while back, I realized that I was spending a lot of mental energy INVENTING! I was creating something new every time, instead of working off a framework that could help me give expected, good guidance to someone just starting off.

Every one is different — but there are at least SOME universal principles that ALL new Christians need. How can I build those into a system?

Here’s what another pastor said:

the need for a clear discipleship plan

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know I’m a huge fan of systems, which I define as “expected ways of doing critical work.”

I just hadn’t really applied systems thinking to discipleship in our church!

#2: “Some tools are too hard/too overwhelming for my audience.

email screenshot

This pastor friend referenced Shepherd’s Global Classrom, which is great… one of the most exciting discipleship and education tools in years. (You really should check it out!)

But he’s correct — some tools are basically, “Welcome to the Family of God! Here, have this large textbook.”

My audience is full of people who are not really readers, and they get overwhelmed easily if you can’t give them something they can chew — something BITE-SIZED for them.

#3: “There are some good things out there, but it’s hard work to get it workable for MY CHURCH.”

email screenshot

One pastor had some great content he shared! I was thankful to review it — it was over 400 pages!! — but it was obvious that he and others had done a ton of work on it, to make it more workable for their particular theological framework.

That’s one of the challenges… finding tools that you agree with their theological framework, or their approach, etc. I’ve run into that many times. “Ooh, this is a great tool… really, you had to go there?

#4: “I’m so busy doing the work, I don’t have time to build a good system.

new christian discipleship

I know exactly what this pastor means when he says, “I’ve given more effort to the work than to improving my processes.”

People work is messy and busy. We can get so busy working IN our church that we have no time to work ON our church.

#5: “I’m the only one doing any discipling, and there’s no clear plan to empower others to help.”

discipleship plan

Man, I really feel this. To be able to give discipling away, it takes either:

a) a really skilled helper — who is a strong Christian with great leadership abilities


b) a really clear system that can empower your more mature Christians to help — even if they feel unqualified.

So I’ve been working on it…

Those are some of the things that pastors shared with me about their frustrations with discipling.

I’ve been working on a solution to help, a system that I think

  1. I can empower someone else to use, even if they don’t feel qualified

  2. keeps everything bite-sized to prevent overwhelm

  3. focuses on habit development, not just information

  4. gives an extrememly clear pathway for the first few weeks of following Jesus

  5. prevents some common problems such as getting bogged down in Bible reading

  6. Is a great on-ramp to a longer-term discipleship strategy

If you’re interested, stay tuned. I’ll be writing about it in the next few days.

If you want a preview, you can navigate to and see what you think. Next time, I’ll share a copy of the New Start Discipleship Journal that you can download and evaluate.

In the meantime, reply or comment and let me know your frustrations with discipleship if I didn’t cover them! 🙂

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