Top 15 Barriers to Starting a Disciple Making Movement

Barriers to starting a disciple-making movement

On May 6th, 1954 Sir Roger Bannister did something that everyone said was impossible. He ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Up until then, people had said it was an unbreakable barrier. Doctors made strong statements saying it was not only dangerous to try to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. They, in fact, said that it was humanly impossible. This was a record that would never be broken. Until it was. After Roger did it, in a few short months, many others also ran a mile in less than 4 minutes. Today the world record is held by a man named Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco. He ran a mile in 3:43:13. We think some things are impossible and difficult barriers to Disciple-Making Movements. They are not.

Instead, they are problems waiting for a faith-filled person to turn them into an opportunity. When we do that, we not only change our own idea of the impossibility of that barrier. We open the door, like Roger Bannister did, for others to also follow us. As you overcome barriers to seeing Disciple-Making Movements, you make a path for others to follow. Be a creative, persistent, barrier breaker in DMMs!

All things are difficult, before they are easy- Thomas Fuller

Attitude Is Everything

One of my oldest leadership mentors is John Maxwell. I’ve read many of his books and greatly benefited from his leadership teachings. He often speaks of the importance of having a “Winning Attitude.”

Our attitude can turn our problems into blessings- John Maxwell

Maxwell didn’t originate this idea! Jesus was the ultimate leader in turning a painful cross into a bridge of salvation. He turned death into resurrection. Because of Jesus, we can break through any difficult problem finding victory and hope.

Paul wrote, in the book of Philippians, “I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13 NKJV. With God’s strength, Spirit, creativity, and mind at work in us, every barrier we face becomes an opportunity for growth. Barriers become breakthroughs. Obstacles become opportunities.

I’ve been surveying people who are involved in starting Disciple-Making Movements. From their input, I have come up with a list of their top 15 barriers people face when trying to start a DMM. I’ll share these below.

Over the coming months, I will be writing blogs about these different barriers. I may take a break once in a while. But you will be seeing regular articles about these over the coming months.

An Invitation

As I start this series, I’d like to invite you into the process of praying, thinking and working with me on it.

None of these are new to me, though they mostly come from you, my readers. I’ve experienced and encountered each one. I’ve also seen them overcome. I’ll be sharing examples of how people have broken through these barriers. I’ll share how they have been turned them into opportunities for growth.

Before I start the series, I wanted to focus though, on our attitude, as we consider these barriers. Are you someone who sees a problem as a chance to grow? Do you see it as an opportunity for God to lead you in creative ways?

2 Questions

As you read through the list, identify the one that is most present in your area.

Then think with me about two questions:
– How could this problem become an opportunity for growth? In me and in those I am discipling?
– What solutions could be experimented with to creatively overcome this difficulty?

Before I publish an article related to the problem you are facing, God will have begun to give you solutions! I’m sure of it!

The 15 Most Common Barriers to Starting A Disciple Making Movement

  1. Resistance from Pastors and Traditional Churches
    2. Human Nature- Need to “join” is higher than the desire to form/create a new group
    3. Cultural and Worldview Backgrounds related to Priesthood of All vs. an Ordained Leader
    4. Societal Fears- Rejection, Marriage, Burial concerns
    5. Unwise Partnerships with those who have resources but are not like-minded
    6. Difficulty in finding Person of Peace quickly
    7. Distractions and Lack of Focus- a post-modern idea that everything is equal. A need to be inclusive of other’s visions and priorities, so feel they can’t make DMMs a higher purpose to pursue.
    8. Cultural Misunderstandings of Christianity
    9. Wrong Focus- On Strategy instead of Lostness
    10. The desire for Quick Success and Results- Not willing to take time to build the right DNA
    11. Transient or Migrant People group- Believers Scatter
    12. Platform Issues- Takes Time, need for a visa, need to explain yourself, security issues
    13. Unable to Self Start and Plan (easier to join a program)
    14. Member Care related issues- team, burnout, loneliness
    15. Ignorance – Lack of understanding of the basics of how to get started in multiplying disciples

God Will Give You Creative Wisdom To Overcome

Which one is the most prominent for you and your ministry? Or what are your top three? Let me know in the comments, by email or on the DMM Facebook page.

In the coming months:
– Ask God to help you turn that problem into an opportunity.
– Declare the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
– Listen to the Holy Spirit as He guides you into creative solutions, discovery, and innovation.

He will give you the wisdom you need to overcome.

I’d love to hear from you if God is showing you something about one of these.  Or maybe you have a story to tell that relates to one of them. By sharing your story with others, you can be like Roger Bannister. Others will break through the same barrier right after you do!

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      Please search this website for obstacles. It will share the challenges in many different articles as well as give solutions. As far as how to get started, there are some good suggestions on the home page and in the email sequence you can sign up for from that place on the site. Blessings!

  1. Nick Sbu Engel

    Thank you so much for this amazing post and website. I’m grateful to God for you guys ! Holy Spirit is moving 🔥Mt 28:18.. acts 1:8 etc .. we are in durban South Africa and just getting started with DMM..

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    2. Joshua Aol

      I have read the 15 obstacles and barriers you have mentioned and many more that may arise and finally I have discovered that it’s all about changing our mindset or attitude to adapt the mindset of Jesus Christ and everything becomes easy through his divine power bill which is at work in us

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      1. Isaac amade Mujaela

        For me, the biggest barrier when a group is born is that people want to have a porch so that our meeting can happen. When you don’t have a house of prayer, many people think it’s a joke, it’s a big challenge that I have, but they prefer to find it in houses, but when they already have a house, And I told them, yes, we can have a house of prayer every month, let’s find a Sunday in the house of prayer to celebrate together. Our meeting will be at home as usual. Can you help me with this situation?

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          Cynthia Anderson

          Yes, when you are working with traditional Christians these are barriers because of what they are accustomed to. Focus on the unsaved and unchurched and you will face this far less.

  2. Margaret Kinyanjui

    Thank you for this eye opening teaching. My problem is 1, 3 and I work with churches, training on evangelism and making disciples.

  3. Joseph Barasa Maloba

    Good God is able to help His children through their distant brethren, barriers are not a big question to Him.
    He turns impossibility into possibility.

  4. Lovemore LC mtungama

    It’s always overwhelming when you are working on something that is not showing fruits mostly in early days of Deciple making, when you are trying to approach people and they are not showing interest in what you are sharing with them

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