How can I know where I am or where those I’m trying to disciple and lead are spiritually? Try listening. My last post was about Things Spiritual Giants Say. A few years ago, I posted about Jim Putman’s great book Real-Life Discipleship: Equipping Disciples Who Make Disciples. In the book, he breaks down five stages of spiritual maturity by what will be common phrases for a person at each stage. Jesus said, “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34 HCSB), so our words reveal our spiritual condition.
- “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”
- “I pray and read my Bible. That’s good enough for me.”
- “I didn’t know the Bible said that.”
- “Jesus helps me be a good person. I don’t need church.”
- Characterized by ignorance, confusion, dependence, worldly perspective.
- Needs personal attention of a spiritual parent, teaching and modeling the Christian faith, accountability to develop new habits.
- “My church isn’t taking care of my needs.”
- “I didn’t like the music today. If only they did it like…”
- “I love my small group; don’t add more people to it.”
- “I’m not being fed at my church, so I’m going to a church that can meet my needs better.”
- Characterized by self-centeredness, pride, idealism, spiritual highs and lows.
- Needs relational connections to a church family, help to start feeding themselves, teaching about identity in Christ.
Spiritual Young Adult
- “I love my small group, but there are others who need a group like this.”
- “Randy and Rachel missed church today. Their kids have the flu, maybe our group could make meals for them. I’ll start.”
- “I have some friends I’ve been witnessing to. I think I could lead a Bible Study for them with a little help.”
- “In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.”
- Characterized by action, zeal, God-centered, others-centered, independent, desire to serve others.
- Needs opportunities to serve, ongoing relationships that offer encouragement, accountability and skills training.
- “This guy at work asked me to explain the Bible to him. Pray for me.”
- “Our small group is going on a mission trip, and I have given each person a different responsibility.”
- “We get to baptize someone from my small group today. I want them to get plugged into a ministry right away.”
- Characterized by intentionality, reproduction mindset, dependability, desire to see others mature.
- Needs ongoing relationships with other disciple makers, a team approach, accountability and encouragement.
So where are you? If you’re moving toward spiritual maturity you may want to get this book or the training manual to learn more about how to be a spiritual parent and make disciples who make disciples. Here’s a few other great quotes from the manual:
- Every Christian is commanded to participate in the mission to make disciples.
- Your work is complete when the person you are discipling can make a disciple.
- The church was not designed to be a group of spectators who attend weekly lectures; it was designed to be a trained army with a powerful message.
- We cannot change the definition of discipleship to sit and listen and then expect to make disciples as Jesus did.
- Don’t mistake Bible Knowledge, years of church attendance, physical age, education, and so forth for spiritual maturity.
- A church is successful when everyone is in the game, maturing into disciples who can reproduce disciples.
- Relationships create the environment where discipleship happens best.
- Serving produces players, not spectators. Service helps a disciple develop and mature.