When does discipleship begin?


I am loving every page of the book I am currently reading, called Breaking the Missional Code, by Ed Stetzer & David Putman. In fact, I love it so much that I would really like to spend some time reflecting on their thoughts on here, and even hearing some feedback (that’s where you come in!). So, I hope that these next few posts will (1) urge you to buy this book and read it, (2) inspire you to think on the topics raised, and (3) cause us all to change our lives to be more missional!

Tonight I want to mention the author’s thoughts on discipleship. Their views have really caused me to think (and even re-think) about the whole concept. Up until reading this book I have always thought of discipleship as a post-conversion process. After a person becomes a believer, they then begin the long journey of learning what that means, both mentally and in life-application, right? Well, according to Stetzer and Putman, they urge believers to begin to view conversion and even pre-conversion as a part of the discipleship process.

The book presents the concept of discipleship in a couple of ways. The first is a three step process (p. 123)…

0 – Regeneration or Conversion
1 – Growth

2 – Spiritual Reproduction

The authors suggest that “‘Conversion to Christ’ takes place most often among a community of committed believers” (p. 123). Because of this occurrence, believers are urged to shift from having a focus on evangelistic strategies to living a missional life. This has everything to do with being wholistically intentional. The authors further define the process in the following terms (p. 128):

Searching (commitment to being open to spiritual matters)
Believing (commitment to relationship with God through Jesus Christ)
Belonging (commitment to relationship with other believers)

Becoming (commitment to freedom in Christ)

Serving (commitment to ministry and mission)

According to Stetzer & Putman, these steps will not always occur in the same order. The are all experienced, however, in the midst of genuine Christian community. This community is different from church, as the authors state, “Church and Christian community must not be the same thing. Unbelievers can and should be invited into the community, but they cannot be part of the church. A church is a body of believers. A person becomes part of the church with the second and eternal conversion, the conversion to Christ.”

This second conversion occurs after a first conversion the authors suggest to be the conversion to community (p. 124). This makes 2 commitments of every believer so very important. First, we must start with a deep commitment to bring those outside the church into experience with the Christian community. Second, each and every believer must strive to do his/her part to develop this kind of vibrant and authentic fellowship with brothers and sisters within the faith family.

After much thought, I really like this new (to me, anyway!) perspective on discipleship. I like it primarily because it is wholistic and calls believers to be intentional to the whole process. I agree that we do need to shift our focus from evangelism strategy to missional living. What do you think?

I Married my bride, Erin, in 2003. We have 3 children: Emma, Elijah, and Lydia. I have served full-time on staff at Westwood Baptist Church, in Roxboro, NC, since summer of 2006 as Pastor of Students & Discipleship. I am currently enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, pursuing my Doctorate of Education.

What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s