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I’m really looking forward to sharing the platform at Exponential West, October 7-10, 2013 at Saddleback Church in Southern California. The theme of the conference is Discipleship, and features great leaders like Rick Warren, Laurie Beshore, Ray Chang, Robert Coleman, Dave Ferguson, Dori Gorman, Alan Hirsch, Chris Hodges, Miles McPherson, Obed Martinez, Efrem Smith and Jeff Vanderstelt.

If you’re a rookie church planter or a veteran pastor, I strongly recommend that you join us at Exponential West.

In this blog post, I’m presenting 8 Reasons why discipleship is such a struggle in the American Church context and offer 8 Remedies to counter the struggle. This list was birthed out of the soil of my own life and pastoral ministry in the trenches with ethnically and socio-economically diverse people.


Here’s one of the ways that I define discipleship:

“Discipleship is not knowing more information about Jesus, but knowing Jesus and being transformed into His image through the constant exposure of the Gospel of grace in the context of a local church. His life and mission becomes ours as we live by faith in Him in the everydayness of life by the Spirit’s power.”



REASON 1: We have a discipleship problem because we divorce people from the story of God–which is Eternity, Creation, The Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.

REMEDY 1: We must teach people to see themselves in God’s redemptive story or they will develop a customer mentality and futilely attempt to place God in their story. (1 Peter 2:9-10)


REASON 2: We have a discipleship problem because we teach unknowingly, or knowingly, the Homogenous Unit Principle. This produces a theology of comfort, disunity, and consumerism.

REMEDY 2: We must teach people that Jesus creates one new people, a multi-ethnic, blood-bought community that is on mission with Him. (Ephesians 2:14-3:1-13)


REASON 3: We have a discipleship problem because we teach people that “church” is somewhere you go on the weekend, instead of the identity of God’s people “on the go” with Jesus.

REMEDY 3: We must recapture the essence of God’s people gathering on the weekend, and scattering them during the week as missionaries into their spheres of influence. (Matthew 28:18-20)


REASON 4: We have a discipleship problem because we fail to realize that our UNION LIFE with Jesus is the Source, Significance and Strength of our lives as Kingdom of God citizens.

REMEDY 4: We must teach people that Jesus has made us alive with His life (Regeneration), declared us to be His very righteousness (Justification), has forever forgiven us and made us perfect in Him (Propitiation), has made us God’s friends (Reconciliation), that Jesus has purchased our freedom (Redemption), is growing us into His image by the Holy Spirit’s power (Sanctification), and in one future day will give us resurrection bodies in the New Heavens and Earth (glorification).  (Romans 8:30)


REASON 5: We have a discipleship problem because we WRONGLY think sanctification is the basis of our justification.

REMEDY 5: We must teach people that the basis of their sanctification is justification. (Romans 5:17-18)


REASON 6: We have a discipleship problem because for some reason, we divorce discipleship from worship and evangelism.

REMEDY 6: We must teach people that discipleship is accelerated when we see all of life as worship and worship moves us to evangelism.  (Romans 12:1-8)


REASON 7: We have a discipleship problem because we wrongly believe the Gospel is just for the unbeliever and not for the believer also.

REMEDY 7: The same Gospel that justifies the sinner also sanctifies and glorifies the saint.

REASON 8: We have a discipleship problem because we think the Gospel is just soteriology only, and not that Jesus is establishing His Kingship.

REMEDY 8: Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension are about Him defeating sin, death, and evil and establishing His Kingship over all of creation.  And by His grace, He extends His union life to humanity and gives us everything we need to extend our King’s kingdom through the lives of His people, the church.

 In my book, Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Has Your Future, I have attempted to address and provide solutions to our discipleship crisis.  CLICK HERE to learn more about Limitless Life.

Marinate on that,

Pastor Derwin


  • Dan May 27, 2013

    Really good! Definitely something to marinate on

  • Jeremy Franklin May 27, 2013

    Wonderful! You deal with the Discipleship Dilemma in terms of the Gospel of grace holistically affecting all people in their context; yet, on a level of equal opportunity and responsibility to spread the good news.

    There is a grace needed to disciple within a multi-ethnic context as the light of Christ is displayed in LOVE. I personally wait with expectant hope as the church transforms through the power of love and relationship as the Holy Spirit moves.



    • DerwinLGray May 27, 2013


      thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      As we read the Apostle Paul’s letter they were Gospel-centred instructions to multi-ethnic church plants (Jew & gentile in One Body– Eph. 2:14;3:13).


  • Marsha May 30, 2013

    Very clear and concise. Thank you.

    • DerwinLGray May 30, 2013

      Thank you Marsha.

  • […] By Pastor Derwin Gray: […]

  • okna małopolskie January 29, 2014

    Its such as you read my mind! You appear to understand so much about this, such as you wrote the guide in it
    or something. I feel that you could do with a few p.c.
    to force the message home a bit, however other than that, this is magnificent blog.
    A great read. I will certainly be back.

    • DerwinLGray February 3, 2014

      Thank you.

  • Jeff Kyzer May 6, 2014

    Great blog. It is so difficult to see churches all over our country struggling in these areas. You have exposed eight huge potholes in the way discipleship is approached. So many times problems are pointed out without solutions. Thanks for offering solutions.

    • DerwinLGray May 11, 2014


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