The Five Stages of Discipleship

This diagram was found in Discipleshift: Five Steps that Help Your Church to Make Disciples who Make Disciples by Jim Putnam.


Here are some ways to know where people in your church or people you are discipling are in the process by what they say or how they live:

Spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1 – 5):

  • I don’t believe there’s a God.
  • The bible is just a bunch of myths.
  • Religion is a crutch for the weak.
  • Christians are just intolerant and homophobic people.
  • There are many ways a person can get to God.
  • I don’t believe in hell.
  • I’ve been a good person, so when I die, everything will be okay.
  • There is not absolute right or wrong.

Infant (1 Peter 2:2 – 3):

  • I need to go to church regularly? I’ve never heard that before.
  • I need to pray and regularly read my Bible? I don’t know how.
  • I didn’t know the Bible said that.
  • Tithing? What’s that?
  • I don’t need anyone else. It’s just me and Jesus.
  • I need someone to regularly care for me.
  • I know Jesus is God, but isn’t karma real too?
  • I just got baptized, but still have problems in my life. I thought Jesus was supposed to take care of all my problems.

Children (1 John 2:12):

  • I don’t know if this church is meeting my needs anymore.
  • Don’t branch my missional community into two. We won’t get to be with our friends.
  • Who are all the new people coming into our church? The church is getting too big.
  • Why we have to learn new songs?
  • I didn’t like the music today.
  • No one ever says hi to me at church. No one ever calls me to see how I’m doing. No one spends time with me.
  • My missional community is not taking care of my needs like they should.
  • I wasn’t fed at all by that sermon today.
  • Why don’t we have a ministry for ____________ (women, men, singles, senior adults, divorced, widowed).
  • I’d serve, but no one has asked me.

Young Adult (1 John 2:13 – 14):

  • In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.
  • I really want to go to Uganda on a mission trip this summer.
  • I love serving. I can see how God has gifted me and is using me.
  • I have 3 friends I’ve been witnessing to, and our missional community is too big for them, can we start a new one?
  • Someone missed our missional community, so I called them to see if they were okay.
  • Look at how many are at church today – it’s awesome.

Parent (2 Timothy 2:1 – 2):

  • I wonder if God is leading me to invest in Bill and help him mature in his faith.
  • I want to help this guy at work. He asked me to explain the Bible to him. Pray for me as I spend time in the Word with him.
  • We get to baptize someone in our missional community today.
  • Our missional community is going on a mission trip. I am praying for God’s wisdom as I give each person a different responsibility to help them grow.
  • The most important discipleship is with my children.
  • I want to be conscious of the influence of my words and actions around others.
  • There is someone in my missional community I’ve been disciplining who is ready to lead their own missional community.

The amazing thing in the list is how many people in most churches are not anywhere close to mature.

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