Español / Français

Data from Indonesia demonstrate need to awaken church members to disciple making

November 9, 2019

Although Indonesian Christians show more commitment to making disciples than their U.S. peers, their experience highlights the urgent worldwide need to equip young people to fulfill the Great Commission.

Bambang Budijanto, General Secretary of the Asia Evangelical Alliance and co-founder of the Bilangan Research Center (Indonesia’s equivalent of the Barna Research Group in the U.S.), shared those and other findings in a featured presentation at the World Evangelical Alliance’s 2019 General Assembly near Jakarta.

Bilangan’s research, released in August, was designed to parallel a similar survey conducted by Barna last year, which found that only 20% of U.S. Christians were actively involved in any kind of discipleship and 51% said they had never heard of the Great Commission.

The Indonesian results were somewhat more encouraging: 40.4% reported being involved in discipleship and only 5.5% were unfamiliar with the Great Commission. But Budijanto was hardly satisfied to learn that three of five Indonesians are not obeying the last words of Jesus.

Among the other findings Budijanto reported:

  • 41% of Indonesian pastors and 45.3% of church members felt their church was effective in disciple making. (When Barna asked that question in the U.S., 52% of church members but only 1% of pastors said yes.)
  • Asked why Christians were not active in discipling, 61.2% said it was due to feeling incapable or unworthy; 22.6% said that people assume discipling is a job for pastors and church leaders. The percentage is even higher, 71.6%, among youth.
  • 1% of Indonesian Christians spent less than one hour a week in discipling activities.
  • Less than 10% of all discipling activity was aimed at reaching people outside the church. “If that was what Jesus wanted, he would have told us to go to all churches and make disciples,” Budijanto remarked.

Strikingly, a whopping 80.7% of respondents active in discipling others said that doing so had a “huge” or “significant” impact on their spiritual growth. In applying this finding, Budijanto said, “A proven formula to grow the spirituality of your congregation is to release them to disciple others.”

Budijanto also highlighted the Barna research finding that of people who were active Christians as teenagers, 54% attend church weekly and 75% strongly agree that their faith is very important in their life today.

“Teenage faith journeys are critical for spiritual well-being in adulthood,” he commented, “but the younger generation is the least equipped and least engaged in fulfilling the Great Commission.” Moreover, he observed, there is a huge gap between pastors and young people with regard to their perspectives on discipleship and other key issues. “If we want to move forward in the next 10 years,” Budijanto concluded, “we need to overcome this communication gap.”


Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @WEAGA2019 and use the hashtag #jakarta2019 to share your excitement!