Identifying Marks of a Disciple

By J.T. English

We want our churches and communities filled with identifiable followers of Christ. So, how can we make this a reality? J.T. English unpacks three steps to growing disciples within your congregation.

When I think about the marks of a disciple, I run straight to these Scriptures the examples: that we would be a people who love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:36-40). Those are complex and rich definitions of what it means to be a disciple. But I also want to think a little differently when we think in terms of what it means to be a disciple.

Sometimes in a church context, rather than asking the question, “What do our people need?”, we instead ask the question, “What do our people want?” However, we need to shift our churches from asking the first question to this second question to help them be healthy, thriving disciples: “What does a disciple need in order to be marked as a disciple?”

Here are three primary needs that a disciple needs in order to grow as a healthy follower of Christ.

1. Understanding of the Bible

A Christian cannot participate in a story that he or she doesn’t know. If our people don’t know and love the story of God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation, of what God is doing redemptively through the person of Jesus, how can they ever live in that story? My hope is that your people would be growing in their love and knowledge of God through His Word.

2. Understanding of Christian Beliefs

Theology is the basic of Christian belief. Give your people the basics about who God is, who they are, and what His creation is. This will lay the foundation of growing our understanding of what we believe, that we would continue to grow in our devotion to God.

3. Understanding of Spiritual Formation

Spiritual disciplines are necessary. Our churches should be know as people who are prayerful, who enjoy spending their time sharing the gospel with their neighbors, and who desire to be formed into disciples.

If you can create Christians who love God’s Word, who live out a life of faith as evidenced through good works while being filled in the Holy Spirit, then you will have people who have been truly marked as disciples.

Adapted from the Church Planting Masterclass. The Church Planting Masterclass provides training and development for kingdom-minded leaders and churches in this Great Commission work. Understand your church’s role and get practical help reaching the nations with the gospel, one church at a time. Start the Church Planting Masterclass here.

Published October 4, 2023

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J.T. English

J.T. English is lead pastor of Storyline Fellowship in Arvada, Colorado, and author of Deep Discipleship: How the Church Can Make Whole Disciples of Jesus. He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. J.T. and his wife, Macy, have two children.