8) Discipleship and Growth – OK, so we got all that, we get the importance of the church and we have been converted and believe the gospel, what next? Just as we get fed as babies with milk, then throughout our lives we grow and are able to eat meat, in the same way Peter says that to mature as believers is to go “from milk to meat” (1 Peter 2:2). There are various ways to do that, but we see in the Bible and through the life of Jesus, the most efficient and effective way is through the process of discipleship in our lives. What is discipleship? Discipleship is just that, a process. A process in which someone is being poured into by another person, usually an older person, helping them to grow and mature in their faith. It is an intense process, it is not something that is done overnight. If we look at Jesus life, we see that he ministered to all, everyone that came by to hear and learn from him. He led many, he led about 70 other guys who wanted to grow and follow Him. We see that when it comes to discipleship, he disciple only 12. He lived, life-on-life with them, walked with them, ate with them, laughed with them, and probably cried with them. Discipleship is a life-on-life processes that can be some of the most fruitful times of your life. In order to grow into Christ-likeness we HAVE to be being poured into by other people, helping to correct and lead us to holiness.
Growth is a sign of life. If something is growing it is living and flourishing in its environment. If something is not growing you would automatically assume that it is dying. Growth as well isn’t something that is done overnight. Growth is a process in 2 Corinthians 3:18 it says “Being transformed in Christ-likeness from one degree of glory to another”. This process is called sanctification, the process of growing and becoming more like Christ. It is done “from one degree of glory to another”, it is a long process of taking steps becoming more like Christ, from one degree to another. This should be ALL of our goals, Paul Says “Grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15). Well why do we want to grow into Christ-likeness? One reason is so that other people can see Christ through us, it can be an awesome witness to live as Christ lives and love as Christ loves and shows that to other people. Neglecting growth and holiness, like neglecting church discipline, results in hard-to-grow disciples.
So what does growth look like? Dr. Mark Dever would say:
“as God’s people are built up and grow together in holiness and self-giving love, they should improve their ability to administer discipline to encourage discipleship.”
There are many ways you can see signs up growth within the church and the people within it. Here are some examples from the What is a Healthy Church Book.
- Growing members being called to missions _”I’ve enjoyed sharing the Gospel Now I will GO!”
- Older members getting a fresh sense of their responsibility to evangelize and disciple – “Why don’t you come over for dinner”
- Increased praying in the church and more prayers centered on evangelism and ministry opportunity “I’m starting an evangelical bible study at work, I’m nervous, pray”
- Informal gatherings among church members outside of the church characterized by spiritual conversation, confessing sin while pointing to the cross “Hey, brother I’m struggling with…”
- Increased fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5
- Husbands leading their wives sacrificially – “honey how can I better honor you?”
- Wives submitting to their husbands – “Honey what can I do today for you”
Our focus must remain on faithfulness and true spiritual growth. That is what God calls from us! To grow as a Christian is to give an amazing testimony of God’s mercy and transforming grace. If you aren’t growing, I think you need to think back and see if God really has come into your life, if you are really sacrificing to him and realizing he is Lord, and if you really are repenting of your sin and turning to Christ. Your church should be helping you do this through countless groups within the church and people in the church willing to invest in your life. A healthy church shouldn’t be too concerned about growing numbers, but much more importantly it should be concerned with growing members!
We need to see that Discipleship is not an option, it is our call as believers! Matthew 28:18-20:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”