Discipleship is one key aspect of a Christian’s life. I have found over my years in the church that many people negotiate the importance of coming alongside new believers and supporting them. I have researched discipleship for many of my school projects and wanted to share what I found out about how new Christians can grow in their walk with Christ and live out being a disciple.
What is Personal Discipleship? Jesus told us what discipleship is in Matthew 28:19 when he said, “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.” Personal discipleship is when Christians pursue Jesus and are trained in the ways of Jesus by mature believers.
Jesus modeled discipleship while He was on earth. From the Bible, we can read and find how to be a disciple of Jesus. I found 10 Biblically ways on how to become a disciple based on Scripture.
10 Steps to Help Develop Personal Discipleship
Here are 10 steps as you grow in your relationship with Christ to help you become a disciple of Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus will take sacrifice, but following Jesus is worth it. Please note, these are not the only ways to grow in being a disciple and there is no perfect formula to being a disciple of Jesus.
1. Find a Local Church
The first step in your personal discipleship is finding a local church to attend. The church is the body of Christ. When you are in a community of fellow believers, you can be encouraged by other’s faith and do life together.
In Romans 12:4-5, Paul writes, “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
The body of Christ is one. The church is where members of the body can come together and be in the community. From there, the church can reach out to the community to evangelize and send missionaries out globally. When you are apart of a church, you get to be apart of a family of believers.
This leads to the question, what should you look for in a church? Here are 5 questions to ask when looking for a church:
- Do the sermons aline with the Bible?
- Does the church pray together?
- Does the church evangelize?
- Does the church focus on discipleship for its members?
- Does the church reach out to people who need help in the community?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then you can spend time praying to God and asking Him if you should attend this church. Ask God to guide you as you look for a church to call home.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.Ephesians 4:4
2. Find a Mentor
Finding a mentor to pour into you will help you grow immensely. A mentor is someone who you meet with and discuss your life with and your walk with God. The question arises, what should you look for in a mentor? Here are six things to look for in a mentor,
- Someone who is the same gender as you
- Someone who is older than you
- Someone who has lived out their faith
- Someone who has wisdom
- Someone you know personally
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to find a mentor. Typically, you can find a mentor in your church. Let other people at your church know you are looking for a mentor to meet with and see if they have any recommendations.
A mentor can help you along on your journey as a follower of Jesus. They are there to encourage you, listen to you, and to provide guidance for your life. By having a mentor, you are receiving wisdom one-on-one with a fellow strong believer.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17
3. Read Your Bible
When you read your Bible, you are reading the true and living Word of God. The Bible is a gift to us. We can learn from the it and be encouraged as we read stories of God’s faithfulness throughout the ages.
To start your Bible reading, I would recommend starting with the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Through these books, you will learn who Jesus is and what he came to do.
From there, I would read the Bible in entirety from Genesis to Revelation. There are many plans you can follow which take you through the Bible in a year.
A few Bible resources I would recommend are:
- YouVerison (Bible app) – you can use this app to take you through the Bible in a year
- “The Year of the Bible: A Guide to Reading Scriptures” ~ James Davidson (this book covers the themes of the Bible).
- “Grasping God’s Word” ~ J. Daniel Hays & J. Scott Duvall (this textbook offers practical tools for understanding & interpreting Scripture).
- “The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament” ~ Craig S. Keener (this book offers a passage by passage commentary and historical background for the New Testament).
These resources will help you learn how to study the Bible. The Bible is for us to read and through it be trained for the good works of the Kingdom.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
4. Attend a Bible Study
A Bible study is an excellent way to study the Word of God in a group setting. Most churches offer Bible studies at some time throughout the week. When you study the Bible in a group, you are able to learn from what other people are getting from the text.
The Bible was written to be read in groups of people. Studying the Word of God in a group is one of the most powerful ways you can grow in your personal discipleship. It would be worth your time to seek out a Bible study to attend.
While attending a Bible study, do your part. Be diligent to do the reading assigned for the week. Before you read the Bible, remember to pray and ask God to reveal Himself as you read His Word. During the Bible study, share what God has shown you. Be bold and speak what He is revealing to you, even if you think its merely a small thing.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.Hebrews 4:12
Prayer is another aspect of personal discipleship. Prayer is how we communicate with God and make our requests known. God always hears our prayers. To help you get into the habit of praying daily, I would pick a certain time to pray. Set a reminder on your phone and stick to it. It could be during your drive to work or before you go to bed.
You do not have to pick a certain time, but I have found it helps me remember to pray every day. Recently, any time I think of someone who needs help, finically, physically, or spiritually I simply pray for them right away in my heart. This has helped me to maintain an attitude of prayer throughout my day. God hears the prayers you say in your heart.
Not sure what to pray about? Here are a few topics you can pray about:
- Pray thankings to God for the blessings you have in your life
- Pray for a loved one who does not yet know Christ
- Pray for someone who needs physical healing
- Pray for the church
- Pray for missionaries overseas
There is no perfect formula for prayer. You can simply thank God and pray what is on your heart. He longs to hear your voice and to grow into a deeper relationship with you.
To learn about practical steps to a mature prayer life click here.
Because he bends down to listen,Psalm 162:2
I will pray as long as I have breath!
6. Join a Prayer Group
Find a prayer group at your church to join. Most churches have a group that meets to pray once a week. Praying in a group is powerful because many believers are coming together and agreeing together in prayer. They are seeking God and asking for His will to be done on the earth and in people’s lives.
When you pray in a group, you will gain insight as you hear other people’s prayers. Their prayers can even help direct how you pray. It will also help you to focus while you pray. Be intentional to tune in during your prayer time and ask God to speak to you.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.Matthew 18:20
7. Share Your Testimony
Another way you can grow is to share your testimony. A testimony is sharing what God has done in your life and giving Him honor and praise. By sharing your testimony, it will help you to reflect on what God has done in your life.
First, share your testimony with a close friend and your mentor. From there, you could go on to share your story with a group of people at church for example while at a life group. If given the opportunity, you could share it in front of your church as well.
Please note, your testimony will not be the same every time you share it. Your testimony should change depending on who you are speaking to. Remember, the point of sharing your testimony is to bring God glory and to encourage other believers. The areas you focus on throughout your testimony can change to help encourage that certain group of people.
Your testimony is unique. No one has the same story as you do. God can use your testimony to encourage other believers or speak to people who do not yet know Him.
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,Psalm 71:15-16
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
8. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask questions to your friends after a sermon about the message. Ask questions during small group or at your Bible study. Ask questions to your mentor. Ask questions about what you don’t understand.
Don’t think, “this is a dumb question.” Someone who has walked out of their faith longer may have insight into what you are wondering about. Keep in mind, we are all growing and learning as followers of Jesus.
Even if people don’t know the answer to your question that is okay. You can always pray and ask God to reveal the answer to you. The truth is no one has all the answers besides God. Asking questions shows you are seeking wisdom and learning.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;Proverbs 4:6-7
love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
9. Confess Sins
First, confess your sins to God. Ask Him to forgive you and repent of the wrong you have done. Proverbs 28:13 says, “You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.” If you want God to have mercy on you, tell Him your sins. He already knows them and He sees what you are trying to hide.
After telling God your sins, you should confess your sins to a fellow believer. Confessing your sins to another person is one of the most vulnerable things you can do. Before you share your sins with someone, you want to know they are someone who you trust and will not spread rumors about you. Consider telling a close friend or your mentor.
Why should you confess your sins to another person? The Bible says in James 5:16, “So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you will be healed. The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.”
The reward for confessing your sins is great. Along with the reward, the person you share with can now help keep you accountable. They can be with you as you walk in the light and help you avoid stumbling. Confessing your sins to both God and another person sets you free from the sin that used to hold you down.
The devil wants you to be ashamed of what you’ve done, but God is waiting to show you mercy for the wrong you have committed and offer you a fresh start. He wants you to be clean and unashamed. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:7-9
10. Use Discipleship Resources
Take time to read books about discipleship, listen to podcasts and sermons about discipleship. Doing this will help you can grow in your own walk with the Lord.
5 Books on Discipleship
These 5 books on the topic of discipleship will help you grow in your walk with Christ and learn more about how to be a disciple of Jesus.
- “The Cost of Discipleship” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- “Knowing God” – J. I. Packer
- “Desiring God” – John Piper
- “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream” – David Platt
- ” The Pursuit of God” – A.W. Tozer
3 Sermons on Discipleship
These sermons on discipleship will give you a better understanding of discipleship from a Biblical view.
- “The Cost of Discipleship” – Francis Chan
- “The Heart of Discipleship” – Edmund Chan
- “The Cost of Discipleship” – Billy Graham
3 Podcasts to Grow in Personal Discipleship
These 3 podcasts on different topics will help you grow in your faith and deepen your understanding of God.
- “The Bible Project” – A podcast to grow your knowledge on the Bible
- “5 Minutes in Church History” – A podcast about church history
- “Pray the Word with David Platt” – A short podcast to lead you in a daily prayer
As you live out your faith and grow in personal discipleship, remember the reason behind why you pray, go to church, and join Bible studies: to grow closer to God. The purpose of being a disciple of Jesus is to allow Him to use you and move in your life. Allow yourself to be open to the plans God has for you!
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.Luke 14:27