Discipling Defined

Disciple-making is the whole process of bring someone from not believing in Jesus through to maturity in his/her faith. The Willow Creek Church in Chicago describes that using their mission statement of “turning irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Christ.”

That process is often seen as having two halves. Indeed those two halves are identified in Matthew’s version of the Great Commission.

Evangelism is the process of bringing someone to faith in Jesus. In the Great Commission, Jesus said to baptise people which implies that the gospel has been preached, people have been challenged to put their faith in Jesus and they have done that. That is then celebrated through baptism.

But baptism is also the beginning of a process. Baptism is a person’s incorporation into the church (whether that be an organisation or a local group of Christians) where the second half of the disciple-making process takes place. Jesus told the disciples to then “teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.” That is discipling, the process of growing people from spiritual babyhood to reproducing maturity. It is the process by which a disciple’s life is re-oriented to align more closely with Jesus’.

Are You An “Evangelism” Or “Discipleship” Church? – Greg Atkinson