“The 5 Stages of Discipleship: What They Are & Why They Matter”
Being a disciple is another way of saying follower, or student of Jesus. Discipleship is helping people grow in their walk with God.
These stages can act as a guide for Christians when beginning their walk with God. They are not set in stone. Discipleship stages are stepping stones in process of furthering one’s walk with God. As people are discipled, they grow in their maturity and relationship with God.
These 5 stages should give you a better understanding of how to go about coming to Jesus and living a life glorifying to God.
Stage 1: Becoming a Follower of Jesus
God desires that none should perish, and the Bible says whoever calls on him will be saved. It is an open invitation to the Jews and Gentiles (which is everyone – they don’t have to be a Jew) to be a part of God’s family.
"Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19)
Coming to Jesus is repenting of your sin and your own way, and letting God take over.
Once we have repented of our own ways and have faith in God’s grace, then the process of the other stages can begin. We can be in the continual presence of the Lord because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and we can be seen as righteous before God because our sin is forgiven.
Stage 2: Building a Solid Foundation
Our foundation – for what we believe, how we behave, and how we think, should be built on the gospel and what the Bible says as applicable to our lives.
"For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Where should we start when building a foundation? We should look to the Scriptures to see how Jesus lived his life on earth. He is our example, and his words and actions we should examine and take to heart.
We can know the truth, and how he wants us to live our lives. The more we know God, and understand who he is, the more we can desire him and obey what he says.
Stage 3: Desiring Christ & Obeying God’s Commandments
Once we are confident in who God is and who he says we are, we respect how God made us be, desire, and rely on Jesus, and begin to grow as a Christian, enabling us to love others well.
Once we are saved, we are dead to sin and alive to God. We must remember that and remind ourselves of that every day. Sin no longer has a hold on us, we must remember this, know the truth, and let it manifest in our lives.
We can keep his commandments because Christ is in us.
"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome". (1 John 1:3)
Stage 4: Building Godly Friendships
God’s greatest commandment is to love him before anything else, then we are to love others as ourselves.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." (John 15:12-13)
We are to be in communion with other people, and other believers. To love people.
The Bible says that iron sharpens iron, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We have friendships to learn how to love well and build each other up.
Stage 5: Discipling Others
God’s purpose for the church is to fulfill his mission of making disciples in all places. This begins with the body of believers already in the church. Look for people who you can come alongside and be an encouragement to.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
How to begin discipling others? Pray for the Lord to bring opportunities to you. Look around you, at people who are already in your life who may be struggling or may just need a listening ear, and encouragement.
Or maybe they do need help with guidance, discernment, or practical steps to strengthen their relationship with God. Maybe they are in need of help in a situation they are dealing with, or don’t know where to start when diving into Scripture.
Why Discipleship Stages are Important
It is important to view these stages (specifically the first stage) in order because we must become a follower of Jesus before we can do anything else. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and that is the call of a Christian, to live a life pleasing to the Lord.
We can’t build a foundation if we don’t first choose to follow God, and we can’t obey his commandments if we don’t first desire Christ. It is hard to desire Christ if we don’t know who he is, and what he says, and actually wants for us.
Once we learn the basics of who God is, his nature and his character, how the gospel affects who we are, and understand God’s purpose and plan for humanity, then we can love others the way God wants us to, and then we can disciple others and effectively serve the church, ultimately serving the Lord.
Start these steps today. Figure out what step you are in and continue to grow. Maybe find a mentor to help you continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord. Keep pressing into Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith.