WEEK THREE: HOW DISCIPLES GROW – Stage Five

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This week covered the stages of spiritual growth, the basic characteristics and needs of each stage, and key phrases people in each stage may say.  This week was very helpful to me in showing that discipleship is a process, and just because someone has yet to mature beyond a certain stage, it doesn’t mean that they do not know Jesus.  I also learned where I was in this process, and that even though I may mostly be in one stage, I can still have moments where I may say or do things from a previous stage or even the next stage.  I am still a flawed person in the process of growing, changing, and becoming, and just because I grow, it doesn’t mean I won’t have a bad day, or selfish moments, or a bad attitude at times.

We were cautioned to not fall into the trap of comparing levels of spiritual maturity, and also cautioned to not mistake Bible knowledge, years of church attendance, age, education, etc., for spiritual maturity.  This is a guide to help me discern where people may be in their process based on a relationship with them, in order to help them continue growing.  It’s a tool for growth, not a weapon for judgment.

Stage One:  The Spiritually Dead

Stage Two:  The Spiritual Infant

Stage Three:  The Spiritual Child

Stage Four:  The Spiritual Young Adult

Stage Five:  The Spiritual Parent

Spiritual parents reproduce disciples by intentionally building relationships.  Growth results in greater responsibility.  Some people may not want to grow because they do not want greater responsibility.

Spiritual parents can feed themselves.  They understand the Bible well enough that they can learn from it on their own.  They know where to find answers to their own questions in the Bible.  They keep God’s Word in their minds by listening to sermons, regularly reading and studying the Bible, and memorizing scripture.

Spiritual parents value the church team.  They are committed to seeing the church’s mission accomplished.  They know what their own personal ministry is, and actively serve in that area.  They work with others to further the body of Christ.

Spiritual parents may say things like:

  • “This guy at work asked me to go explain the Bible to him.  Pray for me.”
  • “I realized discipleship happens at home, too.  Will you hold me accountable to spend time discipling my kids?”
  • “I have a person in my small group who is passionate about children.  Can you have the children’s ministry people call me? ”

Spiritual parents need accountability.  They need ongoing relationships with other disciple-making peers in their church family who will hold them accountable and encourage them.

Lone Rangers often give up or fall into sin because they are isolated.  Without the encouragement and accountability of others, our spiritual health is at risk. – from Real-Life Discipleship

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