What is Discipleship?
Discipleship is Relational
Discipleship cannot occur in isolation from other believers. Followers of Christ must set aside time to be with other Christians for spiritual nourishment and encouragement. There are dozens of “one another” commands found in the New Testament. We cannot “love one another” or “teach one another” or “bear with one another” if we never spend time with “one another.” Therefore, Small Groups play a major role in the discipleship process. Love for God, love for our neighbors, and love for other disciples are a very important part of the value system of a healthy disciple. Ephesians 4:11-16 makes it clear that every part of the body is necessary, “being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body.”
Discipleship is Transformational
The healthy disciple understands the purpose of spiritual growth is directed toward becoming like Christ in character (e.g. words, thoughts, attitudes, and actions). As we spend time in both prayer and God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will speak to us as we live out our faith. Therefore, Spiritual HABITS play a major role in the discipleship process. Daily “Hang Time” with the Lord, “Accountability” in a Small Group, “Bible” memorization, “Involvement in ministry and mission, “Tithing” commitment, and “Sermon” notes are all tools the Holy Spirit uses to bring about life-change. The church must be intentional to develop people who genuinely love God, love the lost, and love believers. Discipleship is not a program it’s an intentional pursuit of life transformation.
Discipleship is Sacrificial
The greatest growth takes place when a disciple learns what is commanded in Scripture and then does what it says. The healthy disciple is willing to deny themselves and take up their cross daily to follow Christ. The healthy disciple understands that Christian sacrificial living is not just about self-denial, but sacrifice for the advancement of the Great Commission. Therefore, missional living plays a major role in the ongoing discipleship process. A healthy mark of maturity is taking off the bib and putting on the apron. One of the greatest ways to mature in our faith is helping others understand the Gospel.
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Dr. Chris Dortch has been in vocational ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."