In Part 1, I shared that being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we are in a living, breathing relationship. Being His disciple is a choice and a life-long process. There I shared five discipleship relational stages: Ignoring, Exploring, Starting, Deepening, and Investing. Listening carefully (full of care) to gauge an individual’s discipleship relational stage may give you clues to how to encourage him or her to take the next step. Assuming you accurately assess the stage, what growth actions you could take with the individual? Consider these ideas designed to spark your thinking:
- IGNORING. Build your relationship with the individual. Be trustworthy. Care. Ask questions about life and meaning.
- EXPLORING. Don’t be afraid to live out your beliefs, or talk about them if asked. Invite him/her to hang out with some of your Christian friends. Invite them to your class or small group. Look for moments to share about Jesus and your testimony. Study the book of John together or a Christian resource about Christianity.
- STARTING. Be an encourager; ask accountability questions positively. Pray together. Study the Bible together. Practice sprititual disciplines together. Help him/her to establish a solid daily quiet time. Attend a class or small group together. Share how to take steps but also why.
- DEEPENING. Talk about life and what God’s Word has to say. Ask questions. Look for answers. Focus on the point. Study a doctrine or Bible book together. Go to a conference. Read a book together. Make commitments to be obedient to God’s Word. Hold one another accountable to be more like Christ.
- INVESTING. Encourage him/her to discover his/her God-given SHAPE: spiritual gifts, heart (passion), abilities, personality, and experiences. Lead him/her to understand that God wants to use it all. Invite him/her to help you as you serve. Model serving. Encourage him/her to try out many opportunities of serving God and others in the church and community.
These conversations, actions, and ideas may come in the previous stage in order to encourage readiness for and movement toward the next stage. Or they may come during the stage he/she has entered in order to be even better prepared to move toward the next stage. But keep in mind that progress toward Investing is ultimately where they should be headed. Think Ephesians 4 if you need a reminder about that. Think about those in your circles on influence.
Where are those closest to you in their discipleship relational stages? Where are others you interact with daily and occasionally? What can you do this week to help one or more of them take steps toward growth? What can you do in the coming year to impact others? Walk with them. Talk with them. Lead where you can. Make disciples!