For a week now, I’ve been staring at a discipleship chart by LeRoy Eims. It comes from his book, The Lost Art of Disciple Making. I can’t stop thinking about it because I find it so helpful in the area of discipleship, ministry multiplication, and leadership development. I'm working on two questions
What are the steps to take a person from an unbeliever all the way into Christian maturity, where this same person can be trusted to lead, shepherd, and care for the Bride of Christ?
How can we determine where a person is on this growth journey toward Christian maturity.
Every time I take my kids to the doctor, ‘the chart’ comes out. This chart is tracking their growth process from birth to adulthood. LeRoy Eims’ chart is very similar. Using his concept, I've placed some major and minor steps into a chart of my own. Here’s my own adaptation of the spiritual growth process on a simple Spiritual Maturity Chart.
1. Hear and accept the gospel (Immature Believer)
a. Read your Bible daily
b. Pray daily, and more even often
c. Share the gospel with others regularly
d. Do not forsake fellowship with other believers
e. Worship God in a variety of other ways
h. Start defeating personal sin behaviors
i. Start growing in godly character, being transformed into Christ’s image
j. Start growing in wisdom, demonstrated by making wise decisions
k. Be a good steward of your, time, talent, and treasure
l. Grow in the kind of hope that others will question you about
m. Live in the joy of Christ
n. Learn how do deeply study the Word of God on our own and do so often
o. Learn humility
p. Love your neighbors
Result of Step 1: A Disciple (Maturation is Ready to Begin)
2. Growth into Christian Maturity
a. Lead others to Christ (God willing)
b. Teach others all that Christ commanded
c. Disciple your wife and children towards Jesus
d. Meet and disciple others in a one-on-one setting
e. Use your time, talent, and treasure for Kingdom advancement
f. Serve others within the Church
g. Serve others outside the Church
h. Serve the local church as a whole
h. Care well for your spiritual leaders
j. Become a steady person within the local church family
k. Be a trustworthy regular at the gatherings of the fellowship
l. Sacrificially give your time, talent, and treasure above your tithe
m. Pray for your leaders and others in the church body often, if not daily
n. Do the jobs nobody wants to do (like Jesus washing the disciple’s feet)
o. Persevere over the long haul
p. Become dependable
q. Encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ often
Result of Step 2: A Servant (The Making of a Maturing Christian)
3. Growth into Ministry Leadership (For Called and Maturing Christians)
I haven't put steps here yet because growing as a leader is going to be different for each person based on calling an leadership duties. This may mean it’s time for formal training like Bible College or Seminary (most students go too early and long before they are called or maturing through Step 2.) It may mean working alongside other leaders. Or it could be something else. However, this process should be reserved for those Christians who have grown as disciples and live as mature servants. When a person has grown well in Step 3, he or she should be capable of reproducing believers in Steps 1 and 2 as well as in Step 3.
Result of Step 3: Leader
Too often, I try to move young men and women into leadership positions long before there has been growth through Step 1 and Step 2. The results are often less than desired.
Look at the growth chart above and get honest with yourself. Where are you? How are you doing? Can you honestly say you are doing all those sub-steps within Step 1? If not, that’s where you need to place your time and attention. You need to grow out of infancy in Christ and start making your way toward maturity.
If you are doing Step 1 well, how are you doing with Step 2? Are you the man or woman the rest of your local church sees as a sacrificial servant for the church, or are you that person that’s still fulfilling your own needs from week to week? What areas need work in your spiritual growth journey? What do you need to do as you make your way toward Christian adulthood?
When my kids finally meet all the thresholds on the doctor’s chart, they will still have needs to meet on my chart. My boys will not honestly be allowed to call themselves men until they’ve moved out on their own and pay for their own car payment, insurance, phone, etc. They are not given certain family responsibilities until they have achieved the faithful smaller responsibilities. The same it true within our local church families.
I was not in a place to lead until I learned to lead myself. I was not in a place lead until I learned to serve rather than be served. I’m still learning a great deal in Step 3 because I feel like I am only just now entering Step 3. At times I’m still struggling with things in Step 1 and 2. I went to seminary way too early because I had not yet learned to serve wellNor had I learned humility (and I’m still working on that one too). I wasn’t a faithful worker yet. At times, I’m not a good steward of my time and talent. These days persevering feels a little tougher. But many spiritual, godly, men examined my life (through ordination and various church planter assessments) and felt I was ready to begin my journey into Step 3. They are still examining my life and still looking at how I am doing in Steps 1 and 2 and I will remain in a growth process until the day I die.
We need leaders in the Church. Most local churches are hurting for godly leaders. I know the church I pastor is! Are you growing toward that place?
If you were assessed in your spiritual journey, would the wisest, most mature believers you know (and even those you don’t, but instead watch on Youtube and listen to via podcasts) determine you have grown past the infancy stages of the Christian walk? How would you rate on the various steps presented here?