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29. Early Problems Encountered by a New Discipler

Purpose: The purpose of this session is to help the new discipler face some realities that relate to the new relationship he is about to undertake.


1. The disciple will be able to understand your feelings and thoughts more clearly.

2. The new discipler will be able to encourage the new disciple and work through his problems scripturally.

3. The new disciple will be better prepared to keep this new relationship “on track.”

Scripture Memory

So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.

Galatians 6:9


1. Prayer and sharing.

2. Discuss the worksheet.

3. Discuss the questions.

4. Review memory work.


This is a summary of typical problems encountered by the new discipler. The day has finally come when you are about to begin with your own person. Your spiritual genealogy is initiated. What are you feeling?

I. You may have many things in your mind as you begin. Perhaps the most common thought is that of personal inability in doing this. "Can I really do this?" "Will I be able to answer all the questions that arise?" These are natural feelings and questions because most of us have never done anything like this before. New experiences that are different tend to traumatize us, especially if others are involved.

Read carefully the following verses: Amos 7:14-15; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 12:7-9. What enabling truths come from these verses from Scripture?





When God chose an instrument to use in the hand of Aaron, He did not choose a "silver shaft." His choice was rather simply a stick! When He looks for men and women to use today, He looks once again for "sticks" that He might fashion. The latter part of 2 Corinthians 4:7 tells us why this is true. What does it say?

II. A second problem discussed is a purely functional problem. The first thing a new discipler must do is set a time for the meeting. This will be more difficult than it seems, but once a time is set, it must be rigidly kept. Some of the problems involved are interruptions that come into a person's life. There are emergencies that no one can help. But it is also true that most interruptions are not emergencies, and if many of these interrupt a schedule, it will certainly impair the process and keep the benefit to a bare minimum. It can even become detrimental to the entire discipling process. So, it is important to begin with a firm commitment that will tolerate only a rare interruption. Anything short of this can be chaotic. In some cases, the meeting time originally selected will become a problem. Rather than insisting on meeting at that time, seek a mutually agreeable time that will continue to meet your needs.

III. Another common problem related to antiquated teaching processes is the belief that the discipler is to talk, to lecture, to "present a lesson." One of the serious errors is that of talking a lot, of trying to convince of a point in the session, and as a result end in dominating the session. Remember that interaction is your chief method in working with your disciple. Let him talk, question, elaborate, apply. Use the discussion questions that are found at the end of each session to facilitate this interaction.

IV. A very common feeling a new discipler has is one of losing heart, or being discouraged. Galatians 6:9 encourages us in what way?

We are doing far more than simply being in the same geographic area as the person we are discipling. We are modeling faithfulness, and it is important to know that our disciple is learning from us what it is like to disciple by being discipled himself. We are also developing the gift of exhortation in that we are learning to be with another person. It is common for spirits to lag, and feelings to sag. Pick yourself up and determine that you are not going to be the link that fails in our determined effort to win the world to Jesus Christ.

V. Difficulty in Scripture memory is a common problem. This is why we are willing to give an individual about five months before we seriously considering dropping him for not memorizing Scripture. We know it is difficult for some to do.

The important thing is to model, as well as to keep encouraging and share the value of doing it in your own life. Remember that you will be really useful as a personal witness to others only as you are immediately prepared to share Christ and the Word in everyday situations. If one can remember his name, where he lives, and his telephone number, he can remember verses as well.

VI. What are some of the problems you anticipate as a new discipler? List these and discuss them with your discipler.




Finally, it is important that there be some anxiety as you meet with another person. Without some anxiety, an experience usually gives us no movement in our personal growth and development. We seem to put more into an experience in which we are somewhat not totally at ease.

How to Impact the World Through Effective Discipleship

This is a thought that challenges me. I have been thinking of these issues for so many years. I am ashamed that I have not worked at this until the last two decades. We have set a goal to reach the entire world. That means that by the year 2013, every individual in our state will have been discipled. Our country comes next, and the world is within our reach because Jesus told us to do this, Matthew 28:19-20.

I. The goal—is it reasonable or just presumptuous? Didn’t Jesus describe the narrow gate as being something that few would find? What is the narrow way? Matthew 7:14. Does the reality that few find it cause us to limit what God can do in our thinking? What are some of the reasons why we might limit God in our thinking?

Some will say, we are really ____________ to accomplish a goal like that, 2 Corinthians 3:5. Yet our sufficiency should never be a consideration. God has told us to reach the __________ parts of the world with our message, Acts 1:8. We know that He has chosen the _____________ things of world to ________ the things which are ___________, 1 Corinthians 1:27. God delights to use those who are willing to submit to Him, irrespective of their abilities.

Some may complain that a plan such as we are using sounds like some businesses today. In reality, who is copying whom? ___________________________ The multiplication plan is found in Scripture in several places. Look, for instance, at 2 Timothy 2:2-3. What plan does this suggest? What plan did the apostle Paul use? _______________ Acts 19:9-10. As he ministered and taught daily, ________ _________ heard the message.

A common complaint of some people is the lack of time. There just isn’t the time in my schedule to do something like working to reach the entire world. Of course, we all have just 24 hours a day. Of course, we have to support our families. We are told that to not do this is to be worse than a heathen. A stark and direct question comes from Jesus concerning this. Mark 8:36 asks the question that unmistakably involves time. What does it ________ a man to gain_______ _________ ________ and lose his soul? If you are too busy with your work or schedules to participate in an effort to reach the world, you need to withdraw for a while, look at your life and reprioritize your life and goals. Indeed, if this is not at the forefront of your life, you are walking on the wrong path as far as the will of God is concerned.

The fact that Jesus spoke of few that would enter the narrow gate might be a problem that you have wrestled with. It is true that ultimately there will be fewer saved than those who come to Christ. That is the business of the Father, not mine. His sovereign power is ultimately the factor involved in any one coming to Christ. There is, however, a compelling factor that offsets this argument. For whom did Christ die? 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not_________ for_________ to perish, but for ______ to come to repentance.”

Through the death of Jesus, God was _____________ ______ ________ to Himself, 2 Corinthians 5:19. The moment Calvary was accomplished, reconciliation of God to ______ _______ took place. The world needs to know this and you and I are the ambassadors to carry the gospel to them.

Some might ask the question “what about the Moslems, Hindus and Buddhists? Are they not part of the throng for whom Christ died?” What do we see in 1 John 2:2?

Others might say that there is no way we can reach and disciple the entire world. If we cannot reach all, how about three fourths, or one half, as we try to reach them all? The chief way we can value His atonement is by attempting to reach all.

II. What are the hindrances to impacting or reaching the world?

A. Lack of ___________, Proverbs 29:18. Vision can provide motivation.

B. Lack of ____________ or concern, Romans 9:2-3.

C. Lack of ____________,Daniel 1:8. The resolve made by Daniel was a fitting thing to purpose in his heart. What are your commitments today?

D. A lack of understanding of proper __________, 2 Corinthians 5:19-20. Why has the Father brought me to life?

E. The “tyranny of the urgent.” Read that article in the appendix. (Book A)

III. What must we do? A summary!

A. The principle of multiplication must be used.

B. We must each share the burden of “lifestyle discipleship.” It must be part of our lifestyle. We must be committed to it for a lifetime.

C. Every disciple disciples someone else without exception.

D. Train each one to learn to witness.

E. Emphasize the importance of knowing doctrine.

F. Talk of total evangelism and work toward it.

G. Make Scripture memory a lifetime goal: saturate yourselves with Scripture.

H. Continually work toward solving the problem of not getting beyond the third generation. Brainstorm, plan, strategize.

Questions for Review and Discussion

1. For what reasons would God desire to use those who basically have very little or no ability in themselves?

2. The person you are discipling seems to continually need to move his appointment to another time. He will occasionally miss an appointment. What are some steps you can take to deal with this?

3. You are feeling rather discouraged and tired. There is a temptation to quit the ministry of discipling, or at least shelve it for a bit. What should you do?

4. How can someone having difficulty with memory work be encouraged?

5. If you have struggled through this session, what do you feel your heart is saying to you as you have done this assignment?

6. What valid excuses have we not covered?

7. What new commitments do you feel you can make?

Summary and Key Concepts

The task of discipling is something that must be learned, and in many ways, it is unlike other things we have done in our lives. Learning to disciple is being able to handle certain types of problems that are typical in every interpersonal relationship when one attempts to share his life with another person.

We feel that almost everyone can learn to share his life with another in this significant way. One of the problems often encountered, however, is the question "am I really able to do this?" It is good to remember that our God doesn't ask us to do things for which He has not equipped us. He has told each of us to be disciplers, and He is able to help us do that. We should remember that God typically chooses simple things to confound the wise. He chooses those in whom His power can be demonstrated. Simplicity or inadequacy is not a deterrent to becoming a good discipler.

The matter of time is also crucial. Everyone has just 24 hours a day in which to accomplish the necessary things of life. Missing appointments, or changing appointments often can be solved by reevaluating and increasing the level of commitment the individual has.

Another common problem has to do with "teacher centered" as opposed to "student centered" methods of meeting with another person. It should always be remembered that following the disciple and helping him with his needs is superior to making the disciple discuss what you want to discuss or listen to what you have to say.

Other problems relate to losing patience or growing weary, and having difficulty with the memory work at the beginning. Remember that growth takes lots of time, and getting involved adequately with Scripture memory is something we will struggle with for most of our lives. All of these things, as well as the anxiety they create, make discipling not only an enriching experience, but one that will truly shape other lives in honor and obedience to our Heavenly Father.

Related Topics: Discipleship

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