Making disciples is job #1 for every Christian. So far we’ve identified the three target levels of discipleship: we evangelize unbelievers, we edify all believers, and then we aim to equip believers to make disciples themselves. Those are the goals of discipleship, or where we’re going, but how do we get there? How do we make a disciple? What is the process?
Many Christians simply don’t know. Even if making disciples is on the radar they have no instruction or training for it. No doubt there are other believers doing a lot of the right things but who couldn’t define their approach or pass it on to someone else. That’s why we need to outline a practical discipleship plan of attack.
There are (at least) five stages for developing a disciple. The stages overlap; they are not entirely exclusive, but isolating each phase in our discussion should be helpful in the equipping process. Just as everyone fits somewhere on the bulls-eye, so everyone is found at some stage of development.
It is also important to say (again) that this is not new or original. I’m simply trying not to drop the baton that’s been handed to me. In particular, the seed of these stages grew in the soil of The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman.* It is the classic study on discipleship and a must read. I believe every Christian should own a copy and it continues to be one of the most influential books on me. It traces the Master Himself, Jesus, as He modeled the most effective method for making disciples.
* I had the privilege to hear Dr. Coleman in person when I was in high school along with my youth pastor who, not coincidentally, was my first real discipler.