It has been determined that there are five stages of discipleship. We all fall into one of these areas with the goal being that we fall into the Parent Phase – making disciples. Which phase do you fall into?
Stage 1: Seeker/spiritually dead. People in this stage have not yet accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. People here might even claim to know Jesus, but they do not have the Holy Spirit living in them. They can be characterized by statements or questions such as:
- I don't believe there's a God.
- The bible is just a bunch of myths.
- Religion is a crutch for the weak.
- Christians are just intolerant and homophobic people.
- There are many ways a person can get to God.
- I don't believe in hell. People just make their own hell.
- I've been a good person, so when I die, everything will be okay. I'll take my chances with the big man upstairs.
- There is no absolute right or wrong. If something's right for you, it might not be right for me, and vice versa.
- I'm spiritual, but I don't connect with any one religion.
If you might fall in the seeker/spiritually dead stage, a Newcomer's Party would be a great place for you to meet some staff and elders that can answer any questions you might have..
Stage 2: Infant. First Peter 2:2-3 describes people who are like newborn babies, craving spiritual milk so they can grow in their salvation. They are spiritually alive and have made a decision to follow Christ but that's as far as they've gotten. They can be characterized by statements or questions such as:
- I need to go to church regularly? I've never heard that before.
- I need to pray regularly and read the bible regularly? I've never heard that before. How would I do that?
- I didn't know the Bible said that.
- Tithing? What's that?
- I've always connect with God through nature. Being out-doors is my church.
- I don't need anyone else. It's just me and Jesus.
- I need someone to regularly care for me.
- I know Jesus is God, but isn't karma real too?
- Trinity? Huh? Now you've got me confused.
- My wife and I just got baptized, and on the way home from church we got into a big fight. What's up with that? I thought Jesus was supposed to take care of all our problems.
If you find yourself in the infant stage, joining a Home Group would benefit you.
Stage 3: Child. People in this stage are continuing to grow in the relationship with God and are beginning to grow in their relationship with other Christians as well. As children, they are still quite self-centered, not yet fully oriented to the focus on others that marks people who are living in maturity in God's kingdom and family. They can be characterized by statements or questions such as:
- I don't know if this church is meeting my needs anymore. Maybe I should go to a different church that does better.
- Don't branch my small group into two. We won't get to be with our friends.
- Who are all these new people coming into our church? The church is getting too big. It's too hard to get a parking spot anymore.
- Why do we have to learn new songs? I like the old hymns better.
- I didn't like the music today. They should play more contemporary stuff.
- No one ever says hi to me at church. No one ever calls me to see how I'm doing. No one spends time with me. Today in the lobby, a pastor looked right at me and didn't even say hello.
- My small group is not taking care of my needs like they should.
- I wasn't fed at all by that sermon today.
- Why don't they have a ministry to singles at this church? This church must not care about singles.
- No Christian should ever listen to hip-hop or rock. That kind of music is just unchristian.
- Well, I'd join the worship team, but no one's ever asked me.
- I was helping in children's ministry, but they didn't appreciate what I was doing, so I quit.
If you find yourself in the child stage, get plugged in with a small group if you're not already. Consider taking the SHAPE test or going through our SHAPE course. Maybe consider volunteering in a ministry.
Stage 4: Young Adult. Spiritual young adults are making a shift from being self-centered to being God- and other-centered. They are beginning to reorient their lives around God's Word and his people and mission. They are starting to understand that God has called them to give to the body of Christ, rather than simply take. They can be characterized by statements or questions such as:
- In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.
- I really want to go to Kenya on a mission trip this summer. I know I'm ready for it. I know God has big plans for my life.
- I just love being a worship leader. I think it's something God has gifted me in, and i love to see an entire congregation lifting their hands in worship when I'm leading.
- I have three friends I've been witnessing to, and our small group would be too big for them, so can we branch so they can come?
- Mike and Christi missed our group, so I called them to see if they're okay. Their kids have the flu, so maybe our group can make meals for them. I'll start.
- Look at how many are at church today – it's awesome! The closest parking spot I could find was at the grocery store across the street!
If you find yourself here in the young adult stage, maybe take our 3 Circles class, consider facilitating a small group or look into one of our upcoming mission trips.
Stage 5: Parent. Spiritually mature people make disciples (have spiritual children, if you will). If they are capable but not parenting, then they are probably still young adults. A spiritual parent has a solid understanding of God's Word, a deep, abiding relationship with God, and a desire to be involved in raising up other disciples. They are kingdom-centered and God-dependent. As mature believers, parents understand that you never outgrow your need for spiritual family, and they are humble enough to be involved in the church despite its many imperfections. They can be characterized by statements or questions such as:
- I wonder if God is leading me to invest in Bill and help him mature in his faith.
- I want to help this guy at work. He asked me to explain the Bible to him. Pray for me as I spend time in the Word with him.
- We get to baptize someone from our small group tonight. When is the next SHAPE class? Getting him plugged into ministry is essential for his growth.
- Our small group is going on a mission trip. I am praying for God's wisdom as I give each person a different responsibility to help them grow.
- The most important discipleship is with my children. Will you hold me accountable to lead devotionals withy kids on a daily basis? I get so busy that I am not consistent with them.
- I want to be conscious of the influence of my words and actions when I go the the game with Bill and Betty. I easily get upset at the referees. As new Christians, Bill and Betty are hungry for guidance, and I want to set an example for them.
- I have a spiritual child in my small group who is causing conflicts; pray that I will have patience as I lead them through this difficult stage.
- I have a young adult who is ready to be an apprentice in our group; it won't be long until we are ready to branch our small group.
If you believe you are in or getting close to the parent stage, it's time to lead or co-lead a ministry within Pointe North of your own. You should have a spiritual mentor; talk with them and church leadership to explore where God is calling you to lead.
*stages and characterizations taken from Discipleshift by Putman & Harrington. Zondervan Publishing 2013. Pgs 61-71.