By Jeff Isaacs
If you have ever been to Riverlawn Christian Church you probably have heard the phrase “making disciples.” If not, then you might not have been paying attention. What does making a disciple mean at Riverlawn? Hopefully you have heard us quote our theme verse at the end of each service, which says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
Being a disciple means that you are following Jesus, constantly being changed by Jesus, and being committed to the mission of Jesus. We adopted our discipleship model from Real Life Christian Church (Jim Putnam) in Idaho. We believe this model is easy to understand and Biblically based:
Follow Jesus refers to a personal decision to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life and pledge to follow Him for the rest of your days. To be changed by Jesus references the constant growth pattern we are all on in Christ. We are constantly being changed by Jesus. We believe that this change takes place best in a small group of encouragement and accountability. Committing to the mission of Jesus is a reminder that we are to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) by going and making disciples.
The goal for making disciples is that we would make more disciples. We want to be a church that makes disciple making disciples!
There are different maturity stages for disciples along the way. Please know that these stages will have characterizations that are generalities and not specifics. Before anyone becomes a disciple of Jesus, they are considered spiritually dead. This stage is characterized by being dead in sins and no relationship with God through Jesus. When someone is “born again” they have received Christ and gone from death to life. They are then considered a spiritual infant. This discipleship stage is characterized by not understanding how everything works, but eager to learn.
The infant then becomes a spiritual child. The child discipleship stage is characterized by the disciple thinking Christianity is about them and their needs. The next stage is being a spiritual young adult. This discipleship stage is characterized by serving others and not thinking of self as much as in the child stage. And the last stage, which is the goal for all disciples, is that we would become spiritual parents. This final stage is characterized by spiritual reproduction and development of others.
The Discipleship Wheel (illustrated below) can be found in the Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual p. 111. (The training manual is available on Amazon.com.)
Where are you in your discipleship journey? Are you still dead in your sin? Are you an infant in your faith, or are you one who is making disciples who make disciples?
No matter where you are in your faith journey, please know all of us are to constantly be growing in our faith and using our gifts to give God all the glory. Will you be a disciple who makes disciples? I hope so, because that is what we were created for—to be in relationship with God through Christ and to show others the way to Him!