What is a disciple?
The term used most often in the Bible to describe followers of Jesus is disciple, which literally means learner or student. In the world of the New Testament, the word disciple referred to someone who was devoted to following the ways of a teacher. Some of Jesus' final words before ascending into Heaven were, Go and make disciples of all nations...(Matthew 28:19-20).
But being a disciple is more than simply aquiring knowledge or following a list of rules. According to the New Testament, disciples of Jesus...
- ...have responded in faith to the truth of the gospel (i.e. the good news of what Jesus did for us through his death and resurrection).
- ...have turned from the ways of their old life to begin walking the path of their new life (i.e. repentance)
- ...are actively following Jesus, relying not on themselves but trusting in the Holy Spirit who provides strength, wisdom, and guidance for the journey.
- ...are following Jesus in a community of other disciples (i.e. being a part of a local church).
We believe that discipleship happens best not through formalized church programs, but in the context of real relationships: parents discipling their children, one-on-one spiritual mentoring, friends leading their friends to Christ and walking them through their first steps of faith. Our role as church leaders is to foster an environment of discipleship by making it easy to be discipled or disciple others. As the Apostle Paul put it,
Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up...(Ephesians 4:11-12)