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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

About being disciples

by Nelson Roth
There are two parts of discipleship - “making disciples and being a disciple.”  Both are vital, and it’s important to understand the difference.

“Making disciples” is what Christians are commanded to do in the Great Commission.  "Therefore go and make disciples...”   Matthew 28:19-20

Being a disciple, on the other hand, is about the life-long process of following Christ and striving to become more like Him.  Discipleship is about the Christian’s personal relationship with Christ that is both growing and intimate; producing life changing outcomes.

“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40



The word "disciple" literally means, a learner.  According to Vine's Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words,  a disciple is "one who follows another’s teaching.”  A disciple is not only a learner, but also an enthusiast and a devotee.

How would you describe your relationship with Christ?


George Barna in, Growing True Disciples  says, “What would happen for God's Kingdom if we [Christian churches, their leaders and members] did not consider our job complete when people confess their sin and say a prayer inviting Jesus to be their Redeemer, but would use their new commitments to Christ as a launching pad for a lifelong quest to become individuals who are completely sold out-emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually-to the Son of God?” (pg. 2)

In his book, Growing True Disciples, Barna describes his research conducted over a two-year period on the state of discipleship and opportunities for effective discipling.  His data also included an examination of churches that are doing a great job in growing disciples.  The book’s research revealed that less than one out of every five born again adults have any specific and measurable goals related to their personal spiritual development.

How are you doing as far as “being a disciple”?

Write out in your own words the difference of “making disciples” and “being a disciple.”


What personal adjustments would be helpful in this matter of “being a disciple”?


I’ll wrap up these thoughts on discipleship by sharing a shift that Barna suggests for ministry in the church to be more balanced in these two different areas of discipleship - “making and being.”

  • Shift from a program-driven ministry to a people-driven ministry 
  • Change from emphasis on building consensus to building character
  • De-emphasize recalling Bible stories, emphasize applying Bible principles
  • Move from a concern about quantity (people, programs, square footage, dollars) to a concern about quality (commitment, wisdom, relationships, values, lifestyle)
  • Retool developmental ministry efforts from being unrelated and haphazard to being intentional and strategic
  • Replace ministry designed to pass on knowledge to efforts intended to facilitate holistic ministry
  • Alter people’s focus from engaging in the optimal feel-good activities to absolute commitment to personal growth, ministry and authenticity in their faith
Being disciples is about relationship; relationship with Christ that goes beyond knowing Him as personal Savior to an on-going daily walk of following Him and becoming more like Him.

Which of the above shifts challenges you the most?
What difference might that shift make in your life and in your ministry?
How and when would you start making such a shift?


Discipleship is one of the evidences of what Relevant Ministry calls - the "7 Marks of Spiritual Health".  RM Coaching helps to assess all 7 Marks, providing an insightful check-up for personal spiritual health.  The RM team is writing about all 7 Marks, focusing on one topic a month with a new Blog article each week.  The topic this month is Ministry.  Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation.

Click to post your comment.

RM’s vision - to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.


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