The Kingdom of God is personal and filled with connection. Jesus exhibited this during His time on earth by discipling and leading people in the way that they should go. Jesus didn’t command people merely to believe, He urged them to follow. Today, the church is a group of disciples becoming disciplers. Since discipleship is such a key part of the Christian faith, church leaders and believers are excited to disciple and curious about the best way to do so. Of course, the bible is the best basis to follow, but discipleship assessments are also gaining in popularity and use.
First, let’s uncover what a discipleship assessment actually is. A disciple assessment is a model or way to track someone’s spiritual growth. It will show a mentor where his or her disciple is in terms of “spiritual checkpoints”. Additionally, it will show what areas need improvement. It can also serve as a basis for personal gauging of self.
Are discipleship assessments worthwhile? Discipleship assessments are not necessary but they can be beneficial and helpful. Assessments can also be especially helpful for those who are new to discipleship. Additionally, discipleship assessments give a basis for the foundation and growth of discipleship.
Common Roadblocks Addressed
A common roadblock in the growth of one’s faith is a plateau after the first year or two of belief. This can be due to a variety of factors, but four, in particular, stand out.
Lack of Leadership
First, a plateau can occur without sufficient discipleship and intentionality. When a person initially comes to Christ, they are excited and joyful for the new life they have received. The start of faith is usually categorized by zeal and passion. These positive feelings come naturally as the new believer is constantly in awe and learning of God.
This may last more than a couple of years, but eventually, many converts sense a decline in these good feelings and are faced with temptation, hardship or doubt. This commencing feeling and “spiritual high” finds it’s low when the struggles of life come. Discipleship assessments can be a preliminary manner to avoid these things or to strengthen the new believer for the time to come.
What new believers usually lack is a firm foundation in truth, biblical knowledge, and a Godly lifestyle. These things take time to build, especially if the new believer wasn’t raised within the church or with any concept of God. Without proper discipleship, new believers are left to fend for themselves within the world. They are like sheep among wolves. They need the protection and guidance of a shepherd to lead them. Of course, Jesus is the One and only true Good Shephard, but He also calls spiritually mature believers to walk alongside new believers. Discipleship assessments can lead disciple-makers in how they should disciple based on the needs, strengths, and weaknesses of the disciple.
Lack of Resources
For new believers, one of the reasons they do not grow quickly or remain in the faith is because of a lack of resources. Even if a new believer has a mentor, he or she may still need additional opportunities. Faith in Jesus should be a personal thing. If someone meets with their mentor once a month or even once a week, this is not sufficient enough time. This issue can be revealed in numerous ways. Sometimes new believers don’t understand scripture.
They may have a bible but they may not know how to read it. Additionally, they may have access to the internet but they might not know what to look for. A new believer needs to be taught how to have this relationship with Jesus in their daily personal life, not dependent on another person. New believers need guidance in resources, especially because there are many false gospels circulating the world and the internet.
A discipleship assessment can give a new believer a starting point of how to grow spiritually. Moreover, this lack of resources is extremely common globally. Once someone is saved, they may not come into contact with another Christian or come across any resources to lead them in their new faith. This means that more resources should be provided worldwide to continue discipleship and the Great Commission.
Lack of Personal Desire
The third barrier that can cause stagnation is the lack of intentionality in the disciple to receive discipleship. At times, a new believer will receive many opportunities to be mentored and discipled, yet, he or she may reject these options. Sometimes the cause for this is past hurt or fear of leadership. This can often be resolved by the building of trust and relationship. This can be a long process but it is definitely worth the time and effort. It is exactly what Jesus would do, so as a disciple-maker, one should be aware and use gentle consistency.
Nonetheless, new believers may not seek discipleship because they don’t always see the significance or need for it. A discipleship assessment presented in a church, youth group or small group setting can open one up to receive more counsel in needed areas. Furthermore, a new believer may be curious to take the assessment and therefore explore his or her spiritual health and growth.
Upon discovery of personal discipleship health, an individual will know his or her strengths and weaknesses. This will help an individual in his or her intimate prayer life and bible readings. Additionally, it may help them to reach out to others within the church. If a new believer is outside of the church and can access this assessment online, it may help him or her to realize the importance of plugging into a local church.
Feeling of Completion
This last barrier can occur at any time during one’s faith. It can happen one or two years after salvation but typically it happens in the midst of one’s faith after many years. A feeling of completion can often come upon believers. Believers may become stagnant in their faith. They may know that they aren’t perfect, but their lifestyle doesn’t show much desire to continue growth and change. They may have conquered obvious sins and therefore believe they have already dealt with all issues. What often takes place during this stage of spiritual development, is ignorance of inner issues, many that have hidden behind the surface for an entire lifetime.
A certain callousness can come over a believer and they simply cannot see all that is within their heart. Even with prayers of confession for unknown issues or sin, they are not coming into contact with the actual problem. A discipleship assessment can be beneficial to anyone, no matter how long they have had their faith. An assessment can shed light into dark areas that are not commonly revealed or even thought of.
A discipleship assessment can be extremely helpful when it comes to discipling others. In discipleship, it is not always clear to see the growth that a disciple is undergoing. Because many of these changes are taking place internally (spiritually, mentally, and emotionally), a discipler may not know what topics to cover. An assessment is beneficial to both the discipler and the disciple.
The discipler will get a better understanding of his or her disciple as a person. Furthermore, the discipler will know what strategies and tactics of discipleship are beneficial compared to those that are not. It will give a basis to gauge what needs improvement in the discipler and his or her methods of communication. Additionally, an assessment will show the disciple where he or she is. It will help them understand their growth and what needs to continue improving. This can be a very encouraging thing for a disciple to witness grow.
These assessments can be taken during specific periods to continue monitoring growth. These assessments can also be discouraging, so it is beneficial to have a discipler around to exhort the disciple. Moreover, these assessments will give specific things to work on and will open up opportunities for more accountability and deeper conversation. It may be a helpful way for a disciple to open up to a trusted discipler about the things he or she has trouble to explain.
Monitoring Personal Growth
Discipleship assessments are not only for group settings or one-on-one settings. They can be used individually for personal reasons. Assessments will show an individual his or her maturity level and competency of God and His word. This can give strategy to those who are excited and ready for new challenges. Additionally, it can encourage and challenge those who were not searching for change. An assessment can also help people recognize their abilities to work with others.
Personal growth can be developed internally, as well as externally in ministry opportunities. One will be shown what areas need to be grown within their own heart and what effect they are reaching with others they are discipling. The more an individual grows in knowledge, truth, and healing, the more he or she can overflow that to others. Monitoring personal growth isn’t merely as personal as it may seem. By consistently monitoring ones-self, an individual can feel confident in their own abilities and the opportunity to reach others in those areas.
Leading Disciples to Discipleship
Discipleship should occur as soon as someone comes to faith in Christ. No scholarly knowledge or experience is needed for initial discipleship. A new believer of as low as one day can share with others about the experience he or she has had with God. This is often called a testimony. Testimonies are amazing tools for evangelism and discipleship. They should be shared consistently with family, friends, peers, coworkers, and strangers.
Since discipleship happens soon after conversion, new believers often struggle to answer deeper questions that other new believers may have. When this happens, there are numerous avenues that can provide information and insight. The first choice should always be the bible. Mature and healthy believers, such as pastors, youth leaders, or mentors should also be addressed. Discipleship assessments can provide incredible aid, especially when discipleship is happening at a quick speed.
The use of discipleship assessments gives tools to new disciples in their endeavors of creating more disciples. It helps new believers see where they are and also helps them understand and help other disciples. A discipleship assessment can be an easy and effective way to minister to someone without needing much prior knowledge. Through this assessment, both the new discipler and the new disciple can learn and grow together in knowledge, wisdom, and faith.
Furthermore, an assessment will help a new discipler to understand the concepts of discipleship. There are many things to learn when a person comes to Christ, many of which take time. Therefore, it is especially helpful to use materials, tools, and resources whenever possible. Once a person becomes familiar with discipleship, he or she won’t have to rely as heavily on resources like these. However, these resources function almost as a guide to lead to a positive end result: continued growth in Christ.
Discipleship Assessment in Missions
The call of missions is to make disciples. Jesus clearly states this in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. The whole of the gospel rests on its preaching to all nations, tribes, and tongues. The gospel is intended to spread, therefore, discipleship should also spread.
Discipleship assessments not only can be used in missions, but they should. They are extremely helpful tools to uncover success on the mission field. They will help missionaries improve their own discipleship tactics. Also, they reveal the areas missionaries are weak in. If the missionaries feel as though they are hitting a wall when it comes to spiritual growth in people, it may be because of their discipleship. By taking an assessment, leaders can be honest about what needs improvement. Then, they can practically make steps in that direction.
Furthermore, these assessments can evaluate new believers in another country. Since there aren’t as many opportunities for spiritual growth within certain countries, it’s important to use all resources that are available to equip native leaders and the global church. Recent research shows that about 2/3 of all strategy and equipping in the global church stems from the United States of America.
Due to this, the church in America should equip the global church that has fewer resources and opportunities. A discipleship assessment can do exactly this. Assessments are practical and easy to follow. They are also inexpensive or even free. They can and should be used for spiritual development worldwide.
Now that you understand the benefit of discipleship assessments, you may be wondering where to find them. Many discipleship assessments can be found online. Some are free, and others require some form of purchase for greater depth. There are also books available on discipleship with more detailed assessments.
Listed below are some things to consider when looking for discipleship assessments:
Are they biblical?
It is crucial that discipleship assessments align themselves with scripture. If they contradict or add to scripture they shouldn’t be used. However, not all modern tools and approaches are heretical. Since the bible was written in a specific culture for a specific time, it should be applied accordingly. Discipleship assessments should have theological support and a firm foundation of God’s word.
Are they practical?
If an assessment is not practical it is not of much use. Discipleship assessments should be practical and easy to follow and implement. Look for an assessment that fits a realistic spiritual level in concordance to where you or your disciple is. All disciples have a starting point and grown on from there. It is not helpful to find an assessment that is out of the ballpark for a new believer. However, more challenging assessments should be used when a believer has reached greater spiritual maturity.
A discipleship assessment should list several areas and indicate what areas need improvement and those that are already strong. From there it should also give clear explanations and examples for the next step. The next step after an assessment is applying whatever is learned. If is it not easy to apply or understand, try starting with a different assessment until you are ready for a more complicated one.
What is the focus?
Some assessments focus on personal development and others focus on the effectiveness of making disciples. Choose accordingly to what you are looking for. If you are assessing a disciple, you should probably choose one that will indicate where that person is spiritually. If you are seeking to understand how your own discipleship is going, you should do a personal assessment focused on discipleship efficiency. As a youth pastor or church leader, you should choose an assessment that gauges your effectiveness in discipleship.
Listed below are two online assessments:
- Discipleship 360 Assessment – this assessment focuses on personal growth. It costs $15. Find more information here.
- Exponential Discipleship Assessment – this assessment ranks an individual’s success in making disciples. This assessment is completely free and it is available here.