“But We Don’t Want to Upset Anyone…”

It should be commonly understood that Jesus stated that those that would follow and imitate Him as His disciples must be willing to sacrifice all in order to do so. Jesus clearly taught:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. […] In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:26-27, 33).
Given that theologically conservative Evangelicals claim to believe that Scripture is both completely true and inspired by the Holy Spirit (and therefore it should likewise be completely obeyed) it should be expected that leaders in those churches would agree that their churches should be willing to pay any price in order that they might teach their members to imitate and follow Jesus as His disciples.
And according to scripture, the price that must be paid in order to do so is implementing a comprehensive, robust, and orderly disciple-making initiative. As Jesus also clearly commanded:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
However, whenever I talk to church leaders and pastors about implementing a comprehensive, robust, and orderly disciple-making initiative; I often hear a certain excuse as to why they are unwilling to pay that price:
“But, we don’t want to upset anyone…”
But this begs a question:
If people have “come to Jesus,” and thus were supposedly willing to abandon all in order to do so (as Jesus said they must in order to come to Him); why would they become upset by their church adopting a comprehensive, robust, orderly disciple-making initiative?
There are only two rational explanations; either their leaders have not clearly explained what they are intending to implement; or the people who become upset never truly “came to Jesus” to begin with.
Two incidents in the ministry of Jesus should give us some insight into the situation.
In the first incident, Jesus was purposefully insulting the Pharisees when the Scribes took offense and informed Jesus that He was insulting them as well:
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” 
One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”
Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:43-46).
Rather than apologize for upsetting the Scribes, Jesus instead began to purposefully upset them.
Because Jesus knew that they were not willing to abandon all in order to follow and imitate Him as His disciple. Therefore, rather than leave them with the impression that they actually were on good terms with His teachings, He made it clear that they have not only impeded themselves from following and imitating Him as His disciple; but that they have also impeded others from doing so as well. Jesus further stated:
“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52).
Likewise, those that would become “upset” if their church were to implement a comprehensive, robust, orderly disciple-making initiative have “taken away the key to knowledge,” and have “hindered those who were entering” from following and imitating Jesus as His disciples as well.
Moreover, church leaders who capitulate to those that might become “upset” have likewise “taken away the key to knowledge” and “hindered those who were entering” from following and imitating Jesus as His disciples even more so.
In the second incident, Jesus once again insulted the Pharisees, and this time His own disciples became concerned that He did so:
Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:12-14).
Jesus clearly taught that those that become “upset” at having to keep His teachings and also impede others from doing so, have not been planted by His Father and therefore “will be pulled up by the roots.”
In addition, those that lead others who become “upset” without correcting them are “blind guides” who will ultimately lead themselves and those that they lead “into a pit.”
Make no mistake, leading a church in implementing a comprehensive, robust, orderly disciple-making initiative will upset those people who are simply attending church in order to check off one the boxes that they believe makes them a good person.
And to be absolutely blunt, if as a church leader you are afraid to implement such a disciple-making initiative because you “don’t want to upset anyone;” you have no business leading in a church. Because, that is actually the exact opposite of what it means to lead a church.
For as the author of Hebrews wrote:
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account” (Hebrews 13:17).
And I can guarantee you that on the day that those leaders must give an account, “But, we didn’t want to upset anyone…” will not be accepted as a reasonable explanation as to why they didn’t lead their church in a comprehensive, robust, orderly disciple-making initiative in order to keep the Great Commission of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20).
If you would like to know why it is so imperative that we be and make disciples of Jesus; and what it looks like to implement a comprehensive, robust, and orderly disciple-making process; begin here and follow the links:
Or, feel welcome to visit us at His Words His Ways Fellowship to learn more. Here is our location.