For more information and helpful resources, visit: https://disciplemakingstages.com/
Have you ever met anyone who was growing by leaps and bounds in a particular area of their life? Whether it was a sport, hobby, or a skill, they will probably tell you that some routine practices have helped them grow. “I’m working out regularly” or “I’m reading up on _____” or “I’ve been spending time with someone who is really helping me learn how to _____” are all probably phrases that we would naturally connect with growth. These are rhythms of life that we adopt when we want to grow in an area of life we care about. It’s no different when it comes to spiritual growth. Here are 3 big rhythms with 3 smaller rhythms in each that help us grow in Jesus.
GET ALONE WITH GOD...
FOR PRAYER: Talking to God is a part of everyday life for growing Christians. The Curious should practice exploratory prayers like “God show me you’re real today” or “Help me know you today.” Believers may start with “Sorry, Thanks, Please” prayers and eventually move to “Faith, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication” prayers. Disciples and Disciple Makers may start to use “The Lord’s Prayer” as a guide. Find examples of all these here. Develop a STAGE appropriate plan with the person you are working with.
FOR BIBLE STUDY: Engaging the Scriptures is a part of every growing Christian’s life. A simple way to study the Bible is using the Discovery Bible Study method (DBS). After reading a section of Scripture ask yourself: 1. What’s the main idea? 2. What does it teach me about God? 3. What does it teach me about people? 4. Do I have any questions? Other methods like “SOAP” or “SPECKA” may also be useful. The goal however is not just study but the internalization of Scripture through meditation. The following ways of engaging Scripture start from low to high internalization: Hearing => Reading => Studying => Memorizing => Meditating. At each STAGE we should be trying to work our way to meditating on the Scriptures. Click the links above to find examples. Develop a STAGE appropriate plan with the person you are working with.
FOR PERSONAL WORSHIP: People practice personal worship in many ways. Some may choose to listen to worship music while others may feel led to sing themselves. Prayer and fasting can also be personal expressions of worship. Develop a STAGE appropriate plan with the person you are working with.
GET TOGETHER WITH OTHERS...
FOR PRAYER: Corporate prayer (praying together with other Christians) is an important part of the growing Christian’s life. Opportunities to pray with others should be abundant. Weekly worship, small group gatherings, prayer partners, and discipleship relationships all give us a chance to pray together. When we hear others pray, we grow in our own prayer life. Develop a STAGE appropriate plan with the person you are working with.
FOR BIBLE STUDY: Getting together to study the Bible is also an important part of the growing Christian’s life. Discipleship and spiritual growth is not a self study. We learn from one another’s insights. This doesn’t replace our personal time in God’s word but enriches it. Weekly worship, small groups and discipleship relationships should provide time to get into the Word.
FOR WORSHIP: Being able to openly worship with other believers is not a privilege every Christian has. Thankfully, most Christians will have access to a weekly worship service or small groups that worship together. Worship is not really for us as the focus should rightfully be on God. We worship because God deserves worship. A worshipful response to God’s goodness can change our heart and perspective and should be practiced regularly.
IN OBEDIENCE: We don’t naturally live a life that honors God. Spending time with God and His Word on our own and with others should change the way we live. It’s important that we are actively trying to obey God when He introduces us to new ways of living. Here’s how it works in every STAGE. When God reveals to us a change we need to make, we should trust Him and make that change. Our obedience leads to more transformation. We may need help and it may take time to leave behind some deep rooted idols and habits, but growing Christians are always moving towards more obedience not away from it.
Don’t just put a list of behavioral changes that need to happen in front of a new believer. Teach them how to spot sin in their life and how to turn away from it. Teach them how to let their time in the Word and in prayer reveal sin in their life. Let them work out their obedience as they discover God’s commands. Remember that baptism is one of the first steps of obedience we take. Getting their “obedience muscle” started and working is critical. If you don’t know where to start with someone when it comes to obedience just ask them “What part of your life do you already know God wants you to change?” You may be surprised how much the Holy Spirit has already been working on them.
SERVING OTHERS: Serving others is a big part of being in Christian community. We serve others because Jesus served others and commanded us to do the same. Early on the path, people can serve others by meeting simple needs. Setting up on Sunday morning, providing a meal for someone who is ill, or volunteering to babysit for a stressed out parent at the church are all ways to serve. Later in the path, serving might also include teaching or leading a particular ministry in your church. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as people grow in their service.
Service is not limited to the family of God but it should start there. We can and should serve people outside of our church. Whether it is helping our physical neighbor or the poor, service is a powerful demonstration of God’s love. But serving in the Church, the body of Christ, is our first mandate. We are family and we need to learn to live like it.
Our service is not limited to what we are comfortable with or gifted in. This may take some explaining. It makes sense that we discover how God has gifted us and use those gifts to serve others. That’s actually what the Bible teaches! But it also teaches that service is often humbling and full of self sacrifice. This sacrifice most often involves our comfort level. There will be times when God asks us to do something we excel in. There will also be times that God asks us to do things that we don’t particularly enjoy. The important question is “Has God asked me to do this?” not “Is this really my thing.”
Start small and grow into more service both in and outside the church.
MAKING DISCIPLES: The Disciple Maker stage may be further down the path but sharing our story, our hope, and our faith with others is a “day one” assignment. Help the person you are working with draw an “oikos map” which is just a simple map of the people who are “regulars” in their life. Whether the people in our map are young believers who need encouragement or people who are far from God, we need to be sharing what we are learning and what God is doing in our life. Even a new believer can do this and they are often effective when they do. Sharing with others, if ignored early, can be hard to resuscitate later on down the path so challenge them regularly. It’s a good idea to learn a simple way to communicate the Gospel. We suggest learning the 3 Circles approach.
All three of the Get Active rhythms involve risk taking. Whether in obedience, service or sharing, risking for God is always a part of growing. Help the person you’re working with get used to the idea that our faith grows when we trust God more than own way of doing things.