Many Christians go through discipleship programs so that they can grow closer to Jesus and share Him with others. Others meet one-on-one for discipleship with mentors or small group leaders. Yet sometimes, we do not always know why discipleship is necessary for our walk with Christ.
Why is discipleship necessary? Discipleship is necessary because people need to know Jesus personally. Jesus commanded His disciples to make disciples of all nations so that others could know Him. Discipleship is also necessary for you to be grown into maturity and transformed more into the person He has created you to be. Discipleship is also necessary for people to get sound doctrine, love God and others, raise leaders, and create disciple-making movements all over the world. Discipleship includes not only studying God’s Word but living a life of faith and walking in obedience to God.
Entering into discipleship is a life-long process. Here are 14 reasons why discipleship is necessary according to the Bible.
1. Discover Who Jesus Is
The key purpose of discipleship is to help you understand who Jesus is and how you can be like Him.
Without Jesus, you cannot know how to be a disciple, get discipled, or disciple others.
Jesus is perfect. He came to earth fully God and fully man and dwelt among us. He willingly died for your sins because He wanted you to know His love for you. His character reveals to us that He is humble, obedient, and willing to lay down His life for those He loves.
How does this relate to discipleship? Jesus modeled discipleship over 2,000 years ago. He had anywhere from 4 to 120 disciples at different points in the Bible. These disciples followed Him anywhere and listened to all of His teachings.
While Jesus lived among His disciples, He promised that those who believed and followed Him would be with Him for all of eternity. He also taught that those who worship God in spirit and in truth would never be in want or need again. All that He taught led to Himself and His Father.
Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”John 14:6 NKJV
After teaching His disciples about His Father and the kingdom He was bringing to earth, Jesus sent out all of His disciples—seventy-two at the time—in pairs and told them to preach the gospel and heal the sick in His name.
When Jesus’ disciples returned, they rejoiced that even the demons were proclaimed in His name. Jesus immediately told them that they are not to rejoice over this but that their names are written in the book of life. This shows that Jesus was discipling them so that they may know Him and spend eternity with Him.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.Luke 10:20 ESV
2. Grow In Relationship With God And Others
We were designed for relationships. Through discipleship, we learn how Jesus wants a relationship with us. This was Jesus’ model.
Jesus ate, walked, talked, and taught with His disciples during the three years they were together on earth. By spending time with Jesus, His disciples learned about His Father and the plan He had established before the beginning of time.
They also learned how to love and care for one another and extend grace to one another just as Jesus extended grace to them. In this way, they experienced the abundant life and love of Christ in their lives.
Today, the same is true for you. You can experience the abundant life and love of Christ in your life through being in a relationship with others.
Discipleship helps you first know Jesus so that you can let Him live through you and others can experience His unconditional love and grace. When you know Jesus, your actions and words will point others to Him.
People who never wanted to have anything to do with Jesus will want to know Him because of their relationship with you.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35 ESV
Discipleship is necessary because as Jesus’ disciples, we are to love one another. Jesus said that the world would know us by our love for Him and others.
3. Develop Maturity
Discipleship is necessary for the life of a believer because it encourages growth and maturity in their walk with Christ.
If a community of like-minded believers does not surround you then it will be tough to mature in your faith and live it out practically.
Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.1 Corinthians 14:20 ESV
God desires for every believer to be mature in their faith. Discipleship prevents the disciple from living in the world and reminds them instead to keep their eyes fixed on Christ.
Discipleship also reminds a believer to continue seeking a deep relationship with Christ even while living in a world that is shallow and surfaced-level.
For believers to be mature spiritually, they need to be confident in their identity in Christ, be faithful in prayer, dependent upon Jesus, love God and love others, grow in knowledge of Christ’s love for them, live a daily life of surrender and trust in God, and have faith.
Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.Philippians 3:15 ESV
4. Called To Make Disciples Through Discipleship
Not only is discipleship necessary for every Christian to grow and mature in their faith, but it is also something every Christian is called to do.
Jesus’ purpose in having disciples was so that they could first know Him and then go and make more disciples who wanted to follow Him. Because we are Christ-followers, we must also follow Jesus’ example and make disciples who follow Him.
And Jesus came and said to them,
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
Because Jesus was limited in human flesh, he could not appear to every person on the planet and make Himself known. Instead, He chose us, weak human beings, to take His message to all the far corners of the earth.
In Romans, Paul talks about the desperate need for discipleship among unreached groups of people. Jesus sent out His disciples to go into all of the ends of the earth to spread the good news. But how can anyone go make disciples if they are not sent? How will these unreached people groups find out who Jesus is?
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.Romans 10:14-17 ESV
We must remain obedient to that calling and find people to disciple in our daily lives.
Whether that is within your own family, your close circle of friends, people in the church, or globally, you are called to make disciples who love and follow Jesus.
5. Practicing A Committed Lifestyle
Discipleship is a lifestyle commitment. To produce growth, you have to daily practice what you hope to gain a reward in at the end.
Living out the gospel daily is not easy. You have to lay aside your desires of the flesh to be one with Christ. This happens not only by studying God’s Word but also by applying Biblical disciplines and principles into your life. This is called practical theology.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV
Discipleship is necessary because it shows us how to follow Jesus practically by leading by example. This is one of the key ways in how you can disciple others.
It is by living for Jesus every day that we are able to put into practice what we believe. This is what discipleship means. To teach others about who Jesus Christ is, we need to be an example of who Christ is to them.
Discipleship also leads you through the process of recognizing why you need to give your life over completely to God. He has to be first in every area of your life. It teaches you to let go and hold things with a loose grasp so that God can transform you.
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple…So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple.Luke 14:26-27, 33 ESV
To make it clear, Jesus is not saying that you are to hate your family, but that the love you have for them should be so small compared to the love you have for Jesus that it is like hate. Jesus must be first.
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?Luke 9:23 ESV
6. A Transformed Life
Discipleship is necessary for transformation to take place in your life.
Whether you are a new or old believer in Jesus Christ, you need daily transformation to happen in your mind and in your heart. It is the daily walk of walking in the Spirit that transforms you from the inside out.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2
God’s Word is going to challenge your thoughts, beliefs, and praxis in life to conform you more in the image of Christ Jesus.
If you want to know God, grow in relationships, develop maturity, make disciples, and practice a lifestyle that is committed to Christ, you need to renew your mind daily in Christ. The battle is first won in the mind before you do anything else.
7. Learn Sound Doctrine
Discipleship is necessary to learn proper theology and doctrines. This is especially important for new believers, but equally important for those who have been in the faith for a long time to continue learning.
New believers are always excited about their newfound faith and freedom in Jesus Christ but they may not have the correct understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for them.
They need to be taught on sound doctrine so they can eventually lead others to Christ and disciple them in their walk with God.
In the book of Acts, Pricilla and Aquila disciple a young man named Apollos who is passionate about sharing his new-found faith in Christ with others. However, he doesn’t know the sound doctrine of baptism.
Pricilla and Aquila take him aside and disciple him, explaining the truths of the gospel that he didn’t understand. Afterward, he preached the Word of God much more accurately.
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him.
When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.Acts 18:24-28 ESV
Discipleship helps a new believer learn about who God truly is and recognize what is truth and what is not. It is hard to find many people who are rooted and grounded in the truth of God’s Word today, so this is essential for discipleship. Always go back to the Bible.
8. Reach Unreached People Groups
Discipleship is necessary because it not only allows you to make disciples who make more disciples, but God can use you to create disciple-making movements all over the world.
Did you know that there are disciple-making movements all over the world right now? They are called Exponential Disciple-Making Movements or EDMs for short.
Making disciples is how Jesus has commanded us to reach all the nations and ethnic people groups of the world.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:8 ESV
You can start a small discipleship group in a small community such as using the Discovery Bible Study method that will help both non-believers and believers grow in their knowledge of the Lord.
Eventually, the hope is that the people you have been discipling will make disciples who make disciples who also make disciples. This will create a large movement of new believers that can continue to grow, plant churches, send out missionaries, and spread the gospel.
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.2 Timothy 2:2 ESV
9. Access To Wisdom
Discipleship is necessary because you and I need people to speak wisdom into our lives.
Jesus was a source of wisdom to the disciples. When they were in His counsel, they were sure to grow and gain wisdom themselves. Today, we can see accounts of this in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 1 and 2 Peter also give us glimpses into the wisdom that Peter gained from his time with Jesus.
Today, disciplers are people who have an intimate relationship with the Lord and are people who will humbly share what they have learned from their life.
It is important that you surround yourself with people who are older and wiser than you to help you through life by pointing you back to Jesus and God’s Word.
You can learn so much from the lives of other people who have walked through similar experiences that you are going through.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.Proverbs 12:15 ESV
10. Keeping Accountable
Another component of why discipleship is necessary for the life of a Christian is to be kept accountable.
If you are not kept accountable, the sin issues you are struggling with now can lead to roads of destruction in the future. Don’t lead yourself down a road where you don’t want to go.
To be a follower of Jesus means that we do not continue in sin. We have been set free from sin and need to fight from that place of victory we have in Christ. Being discipled and having accountability is how we can walk out our freedom in Jesus Christ.
Every Christian needs accountability to stay on the straight and narrow path. No matter if you are a pastor, missionary, or business person, the Lord desires for you to keep short accounts and to walk in His freedom.
“If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32 ESV
We need to remind each other not to be hardened by sin. A life in Christ is separating ourselves from staying stuck in sin.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV
Find a person or a couple of people you trust who loves the Lord and is following Him. Ask them if they would be willing to keep you accountable with the areas that you struggle with. If they agree, these will become your accountability partners.
Work on setting up weekly meetings where you can talk about your struggles. Be willing to do this for others as well.
11. Understand Your Identity & Purpose
Discipleship is necessary because it helps you understand who you are in Christ and what your purpose is in the body of Christ.
As a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, you have an active part to play in the body of Christ. However, this understanding will only come if you truly know Jesus and understand your identity in Him.
The Bible teaches that you are a child of God. No matter what you do, your identity will never change because He has adopted you into His family forever.
And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.1 John 2:28-29 ESV
Your purpose in the body of Christ is to glorify God in everything that you do.
Whether that is leading your family well, running a business, writing a book, making meals, using musical giftings for leading worship, being an assistant in administration, studying and preaching the Word of God to the church from the pulpit, leading Bible studies during the week, going overseas, or whatever it is, your role is to give glory to God.
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.John 15:8 ESV
12. Living With Eternities Values In View
Discipleship is necessary for keeping your eyes fixed on Christ and eternity.
When you look at the world we live in today, it is so easy to become distressed, anxious, and discouraged about the times we live in. However, as you study God’s Word and disciple others, you can remember to take the focus off of yourself and the world and fix them on Jesus.
You need to have the Word of God abiding in you at all times so that you do not get caught up in the ways of the world.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.
For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.Philippians 3:17-21
13. Raise Leaders In Truth
Discipleship is necessary for raising young leaders in the truth of God’s Word so that they can lead generations after you to follow God.
Without discipleship, young people will drift away from the faith and begin walking in the ways of the world. They need to be ground in the Word, their identity in Christ, and in prayer.
Young people need to have a safe place where they can talk to parents, pastors, and mentors about the struggles they are going through. It is also important that they are listened to, encouraged, prayed with, and discipled through the Bible and Christ-like lifestyle examples.
Without discipleship from someone strong in their faith and identity in Jesus Christ, the new generation coming after us will not be strong leaders of the truth.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.1 Timothy 4:12 ESV
As you are discipling young people in their walk with Christ, encourage them to get outside of their comfort zone. It is important for young leaders to feel trusted enough to lead and have responsibility.
Ask God for things that seem impossible, and trust Him with the future that He already has in His hands.
14. Endure Until The End
Discipleship is necessary to endure until the end when Jesus calls you home or He returns.
As you study the Bible, it should make you long to be more like Jesus and to want to e with Him. It should also draw your gaze upward to God and not down on the temporary things of earth.
Being discipled and discipling others shows you how to endure in your faith. When hard times come, which Jesus has promised that they will, you will not be shaken because your hope and strength rest upon a strong foundation.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.Hebrews 12:28 ESV