Christians often speak “Christianeeze” and fail to explain what they mean by certain terms, which is a surefire way to create a self-focused community that doesn’t seek to learn the language of their surrounding culture and communicate with the lost in an understandable way. The word “disciple” is one of many Christianeeze terms. The goal is not to abandon its use, but to be able describe what it is we are trying to do and what we are saying when we use this word, and many others. Discipleship is a central component of the Christian life. It was commanded by Jesus to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19), yet oftentimes we don’t do the hard work of understanding what this term means and the implications that it has.
At The Well we’ve created a core definition of discipleship so that we all understand what this concept means. We believe a disciple is a gospel-transformed person who strives to glorify God in all he or she does, following the example of Jesus by living in submission to the Spirit, expressed in a community seeking to represent the kingdom of God to those far from Him. Firstly, a disciple is someone who has experienced the transforming work of the gospel in the finished work of Christ in their life. Out of this life transformation, the individual is turned from self-worship (sin) to that of God-worship in all areas of life. A disciple strives to live like Jesus by living in submission to the Spirit, regularly praying that they would be led by Him.
A disciple must be part of a community. Jesus himself was surrounded by others. A disciple devoid of community is not disciple: they are stuck in self-worship thinking they can do everything on their own. Community is necessary for a disciple because without other people to whom they are accountable,disciples drift into self-worship and self-promotion.
Finally, we see that a disciple is a big fan of Jesus saving people. A disciple seeks out and recognizes those who are far from God and introduces those people to Jesus through the life and words of the disciple.
A few ways to measure discipleship are involvement and commitment to the work of the gospel in the local community through the church. This includes being part of a missional community, regularly coming to gatherings of the church, participating in missional events, and seeking to create opportunities for the lost to interact with the church. Practically this looks like someone who lives a life of repentance. That is a life characterized by a humble identity with the death of Christ. This is an individual who is able not only to recognize their sinful state but posture themselves in such a way with others to show how the gospel continually transforms them more into the image of Christ. Another assessment of a disciple is through their ability to lead someone through the gospel and the practical process of repentance. This looks like striving to lead people to identify with the cross in humility and grace. A final way we measure discipleship is a person’s ability to understand the Bible and use it in personal prayer and practical application.
Being a disicple of Jesus is crucial. My prayer is that we can become better disicples making other disiciples in community always pointing people to the disicple-maker, Jesus.