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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY
Disciple Making in a Healthy Church Environment
Submitted to Dr. Bob Bayles,
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of
DSMN 500-B-4LUO
Discipleship Ministries
by
Timothy Wheaton
June 8
th
, 2021
Contents
Introduction....................................................................................................................................1
The Five Stages of Discipleship....................................................................................................2
The Four Spheres of Discipleship.................................................................................................4
Bonhoeffers Call to the Cross......................................................................................................5
Conclusion......................................................................................................................................6
Bibliography...................................................................................................................................7
ii
Introduction
To use a secular vernacular, discipleship is not a hit it and forget it proposition. If one
begins the task of discipleship, it is a requirement to complete the task of making disciples of
Christ–to make little Christs. Discipleship is the transformation of men and women into
likenesses of Christ. This task requires energy, time, and a commitment. Commitment to the one
being disciples and to the task of disciplining another person. This task should not and cannot be
taken lightly, after all, it is a Christ mandated activity. As the Great Commission states,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded
you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20).
1
Clearly, in the words of Jesus, He not commanded believers to make disciples but to
teach their disciples to be obedient to the words and example that He lived during His
incarnation. Jesus was calling for obedience. Putman et al., reminds readers that discipleship is
an apprenticeship that will take several years.
2
The genesis of this apprenticeship first requires that each potential disciple is evaluated as
to their level of spiritual maturity. Each disciple begins their journey to maturity at different
stages. When you don’t rightly assess someone, you can make the mistake of putting that person
1 Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New American Standard Bible
(Anaheim, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).
2 Jim Putman, Bobby Harrington, and Robert E. Coleman,
Discipleshift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples
(Grand Rapids, IL: Zondervan, 2013),55.
1
into a leadership position he or she cannot handle, or expecting more out of a person then they
can provide.
3
Putman et al., define this process as The Five Stages of Discipleship”.
4
The Five Stages of Discipleship
Putman et al, provide a path of progression that a disciple follows, and how a disciple
maker leads converts through growth into spiritual maturity.
5
One must not look at each of these
stages as an amount of time or duration. Graduation to the next stage, or reversion to a previous
stage, has nothing to do with time but with the level of maturity that one obtains and maintains
through the Christian walk.
1) Stage One: The Spiritually Dead. This stage refers to the unconverted, those dead”
in [their] trespasses and sin, walking according to the course of the world (Eph 2:1-2).” One
cannot expect much from someone who demonstrates unbelief or open rebellion” to the things
of God. They are acting according to their nature in death and sin.
6
2) Stage Two: Infant. This stage begins at the time of conversion, or when God gives us
a new identity in Christ, and it is as saved disciples that we grow into our new identity.”
7
Through living life as new creations in Christ, baby Christians require a parent to guide their
path to prevent mishaps. Although baby Christians are new creatures, they must learn to walk in
the newness that is in and through Christ (2Cor 5:17). Believers in this stage seek the milk of the
living word but cannot digest the meat of deeper theological issues. Although this is the infant
3 Putman et al., Discipleshift, 57.
4 Ibid., 58.
5 Ibid., 59.
6 Ibid., 61.
7 Ibid., 60
2