Written by Paul J Bucknell on October, 29, 2018

Basic Concepts of Discipleship


A bold statement, perhaps, but this concept of three stages of Christian growth comes from Elder John. He compares the nebulous growth of our spiritual lives with what is very visible and clear – our own physical growth. Sociologists have done all sorts of studies on the physiological development of a child. Why don’t we more seriously analyze this spiritual development? We have found that as we use this physiological model, many new insights into discipleship excitingly come into view.

In the following pages, we will trace some of those things which we have learned. This is by no means a final analysis, but it has tremendously helped clarify three aspects: discover what is expected at each stage of discipleship, analyze the means those things happen and perhaps most importantly, see how they relate to the other stages of discipleship. This, then, becomes something that is very communicable. Charts like the one above help disciple makers and disciples see where we are at, where we are going and how to get there.

The key to growing churches is the effectiveness in which they train others to live and serve like Christ.
We must recognize that the three spiritual stages of growth are closely related to the other stages. Just as a person cannot be born a young adult, neither can he spiritually bypass certain spiritual stages. That being said, physical growth largely depends on the maturing process of time. We are all aware (some painfully!) how we grow older with time. Spiritual growth, however, develops as God’s truth is implanted into our hearts and minds so that it shapes what we think and do.

Introduction to the Flow Diagram

If everyone in the church was dressed in their spiritual clothes, our churches would look utterly ridiculous. We would see 10 year-old Christians dressed as infants. On the other hand, we might be very surprised to see some very young Christians wearing a suit. Time is not the key factor for maturing but the entrance of light. We cannot discount the factor of time in the process of acquiring truth, however. This is the reason the Apostle Paul says that we are not to anoint into eldership those who have been Christians for a short time.


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