The Stages of Discipleship: Written as an assignment for Liberty University DSM500 November 2014.

According to the Earley and Dempsey, there are three stages of discipleship: declaration, development, and deployment. We will discuss each stage below.

Stage One:  Declaration. [1] 

During the stage of declaration, the seeking unbeliever begins to investigate the person of Christ. [2] Discussing who Jesus is and what He is to you, the disciple, is an excellent way to personalize this stage.  Talking about how the disciple came to know Christ and sharing scriptures such as John 3:16 (NIV) will open the door to questions from the person being discipled.  Discussing one’s personal thirst for knowledge of Christ and how that thirst was quenched presents a visual image to the listener of how their own thirst can be quenched.

The focus of the declaration stage requires the use of scriptural references such as the woman at the well. The declaration stage includes the discussion of sin, the forgiveness of sin, and how that forgiveness brings about repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.[3]  Earley and Dempsey declared that “The goal is to arrive at a place of committed belief.” [4] However, it is essential that the individual being discipled understands that commitment to faith also requires absolute obedience to Christ and His word.  Providing current demonstrative examples od Christian helps the new believer to comprehend that the construct of holiness does not apply to just the “holy men” of the Bible, but it also applies to people today and more importantly can be accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stage Two: Development:

The stage of development focuses on immersion into the new life with Christ, abandoning the contacts, connections, and lures of the old life, and becoming a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.[5] Stage two is the act of being prepared and ready to serve the church community as well as preparation and training for sharing the gospel with others.  The training process must be intentional.  Accountability and ongoing coaching are critical at this stage.  Start with small incremental assignments and areas where the disciple can serve and experience success.  During the development juncture, the act of obedience and the submission of the believer’s entire life to the way of the cross and service to Jesus Christ becomes a way of life. During this stage, the transformation process has begun.  Immersion into the church community and being provided with opportunities to serve, while still being mentored, will grow the disciple during the stage of development.  Development/transformation is an ongoing life long process. It is essential that the new believer knows this; share (Romans 7:15-20) and let them know that you are there to encourage them when they feel that they have challenges.

Stage Three: Deployment or intentional global commissioning.[6] 

As the disciple grows through stage two and becomes proficient in the word they intentionally begin the process of disciplining others. The disciple is sent to present salvation through the gospel to future Christian believers.  [7]The mentor expresses the importance of the act of obedience and the willingness to go where ever it is that God sends the disciple.  During the deployment stage, the disciple becomes a multiplier[8]. This stage is not fulfilled until the believer is called home to be with Christ in heaven.  This is the fulfillment of the great commission.

The Role of the Pastor

Explaining, demonstrating, and implementing these stages in the local congregation is easier if it is done with the framework of small group ministry.  Small group ministry makes the training process intimate and personalized.  It is highly probably that present key leaders in the congregation will have to be trained in the process of “multiplying and discipleship” before it can be launched as a full-scale church initiative.[9]  However, it should not be left until “individuals’ have perfected the process!  Sharing one’s own story of how they became a Christian is a personalized way of beginning the process. The mentee/discipled will understand that in a more rapid fashion that just quoting the Bible and passages to them. Discipleship is just telling your story as a means of opening the way to sharing Jesus with others.

[1] Dave Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is. . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013), Loc. 1109, Kindle.

[2] Earley & Dempsey, Disciple Making Is, Loc 1109, Kindle.

[3] Ibid., Loc. 1182.

[4] Ibid., Loc. 1064.

[5] Ibid., Loc. 1066.

[6] Ibid., Loc. 1073.

[7] Ibid., Loc. 1512.

[8] Ibid., Loc. 2712.

[9] Ibid.

Bibliography

Earley, Dave, and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is . . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2013. Kindle.

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