Scripture describes what a mature disciple looks like. John 15 outlines five characteristics of Jesus’ disciples:
- A disciple abides in Christ through the Word and prayer ( verse 7 )
- A disciple bears much fruit ( verse 8 )
- A disciple responds to God’s love with obedience ( verses 9-10 )
- A disciple possesses joy ( verse 11 )
- A disciple loves as Christ loved ( verses 12-13 ). 1
As we’ve discussed, discipleship is the ongoing process whereby Christ-followers grow in Biblical knowledge, Christ-like character, and faithful conduct—to the glory of God. Walking in Jesus’ steps and being His disciple are our greatest joy and privilege. As Greg Ogden writes, discipleship is “… an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other disciples to encourage, equip and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ.” 2
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that the Sunday school is intended to ease them of their personal duties. The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let holy grandmothers and gracious mothers, with their husbands, see to it that their own boys and girls are well taught in the Word of the Lord.” 3 The church is a family of families. The church and the family should work as partners in making disciples.
Three Discipleship Components
The Bible illumines a finite number of “must know” topics to understand, “must be” traits to exhibit, and “must do” activities to experience. When a child’s developmental process includes that knowledge, those traits, and those experiences, we can be reasonably assured that we have done our part to build a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ. Effective discipleship interweaves these three dimensions: knowledge + character + conduct.
When we examine the lives of dynamic disciples throughout history, we consistently find three components:
- Knowledge: Disciples know God intimately. They develop a reservoir of knowledge based on a Biblical worldview.
- Character: Disciples love God passionately. They display Christ-like character in every area of life.
- Conduct: Disciples serve God selflessly. They demonstrate faithful conduct that honors God and helps people.
Debbie Salter Goodwin summarizes: “Discipleship isn’t something you can add to life like a special trip. Discipleship becomes the life of any follower of Jesus. To raise a generation of disciples who will continue to change their world with the transforming message of the gospel requires parents and others who themselves are making this same commitment.” 4
The Final Commission: Questions to Consider
Jesus’ final commission to His disciples was and is to ‘go and make disciples’. Disciple-making should be the heart of every ministry because it is the heart of the Great Commission. To what degree are you leading a disciple-making children’s ministry? In the midst of everything you are doing today, is ‘making disciples’ your primary purpose?
Discipleship Begins With Our Children
Discipleship is the one thing that kids really need. DiscipleLand’s family of Biblical resources forms a complete Children’s Discipleship System™ – an intentional, relational, and transformational process designed to help children know God intimately, love Him passionately, and to serve Him selflessly.
1 Bill Hull. The Complete Book of Discipleship. NavPress Publishing 2006.
2 Greg Ogden. Transforming Discipleship: Making Disciples a Few at a Time. Intervarsity Press. Web 2013.
3 C.H. Spurgeon. Web 2013.
4 Debbie Salter Goodwin. Web 2013.