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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

Where a megachurch pastor admitted he failed in discipleship

A few years ago, Bill Hybels made quite a few waves in the Christian world when he admitted after doing a broad-based study of his church (Willow Creek Community Church), that they had failed in some areas of discipleship. One of the things he specifically mentioned was that he should have taught people to be "self feeders."

In other words, if you're cutting up little bites for a 2 year old, that's great... but if you're doing it for a 20 year old, that's a real problem!

This should be self-evident, I know. But it isn't... at least how to SOLVE the problem isn't self-evident. And it isn't a new problem!

It's right there in Scripture as well. It was part of the angst of the writer to the Hebrews: "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!" Hebrews 5:12

This ought to encourage you: Pastors for 2,000 years have struggled with how to mature new believers. It's not new!

So how can we solve this?

Well, that's a tough and comprehensive question. Books have been written about it. I can't solve it in one blog post.

But today, I do want to give you a good set of starting points.

  1. Accept that the problem is not just in "big, shallow churches."

Most of the pastors reading this aren't pastors of huge churches. And frankly, you're not going to solve anything while thinking it's only someone else who has the problem!

Probably like you, I'm not really that impressed with consumer culture churches that gather large crowds, but don't teach their people how to feed themselves and grow deep spiritually. BUT...

It's pretty easy to hate on those kind of churches, and mouth off about their "fog machines and laser shows," while completely missing the fact that there are tons of small, traditional churches where people are ALSO not learning to be self-feeders. And... it could be that it is so even in your church.

There's no benefit to critiquing large churches for a problem that many small churches have as well!

Just like no one breaks free of addiction until they realize they have a problem, no church suddenly starts creating self-feeders as long as they think the only challenge exists in some other church.

2. Think deeply about the problem.

Sit for 30 minutes and think: What would help my church people become self-feeders?

I'd suggest that the problem would break out into several contributing factors:

  • Lack of clarity in the minds of pastors about what .

  • Poor communication to new Christians about the value & methods of "self feeding."

  • No structure to support the creation of "self-feeder" habits.

The truth is that the habits and structures that support spiritual self feeding have to be broken down into manageable, teachable mini-habits.

That's why every module of the NewStart Discipleship strategy is designed to help teach bite-sized versions of the habits that support spiritual life.

3. Provide discipleship resources that focus on teaching habits of spiritual formation.

To counteract some of the contributing problems above, I'd suggest you're going to need a clear plan for walking people thru the journey.

Your new Christians are not going to be discipled with just a 2-day conference or a 3-part membership class!

Teaching people to become spiritual self-feeders is more like 1,000 coats of paint than it is 2-3 giant leaps.

I'd recommend NewStart Discipleship of course, but the important thing is that you get a clear plan that focuses on self-feeder habits, and makes it possible for you to be CRYSTAL CLEAR on your communication.

So what is my next step for making disciples?

I'd recommend my free 1 hour training called "How to Be 100% Ready to Disciple New Christians & Multiply Disciple-Makers."

I'm offering it for free most weeks:

  • Thursday at 10AM Central

  • Thursday at 1PM Central

  • Friday at 9AM Central

Hope to see you there!

Let's make some self feeders!

~ Darrell

P.S. If you're like a ton of pastors, you don't have a clear discipleship plan. Let me help. Register for the free training, and I'll demonstrate how I'm making it possible for people to become self-feeders.

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