I’ve often heard people say you can’t measure discipleship. I don’t know if that’s true.
It is certainly true you can’t necessarily put a number or percentage on discipleship growth—as easily as you can numerical growth, but you can tell, over time, if discipleship has happened or is happening.
Granted, it’s still going to be subjective, as is this post, but I believe the Bible gives us clear indications someone has been discipled.
12 INDICATIONS A CHURCH IS MAKING DISCIPLES:
1. Those who have been in the church the longest complain the least. “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil. 2:14).
2. The church celebrates most when those far from faith come to faith. “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” (Luke 15:7).
3. Members care about the needs of others being met more than their own personal desires, comfort or wishes. “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Phil. 2:4).
4. The church is willing to make sacrifices (and changes) in order to attract the lost. “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19).
5. Gossip is not an issue. Passive aggression is rare. “No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).
6. There is certain joy, even during uncertain times, (including personal suffering). “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).
7. The consistent teaching, from behind the podium to small group Bible studies, is a balance of truth and grace. “Jesus came full of grace and truth” (John 1:17).
8. People willingly sacrifice, so financial needs of the church, within the church, and in the missions of the church are fully funded. No one has to beg for money—and people don’t disappear during a series on giving. “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).
9. There are no petty disputes or grudges among the people of the church. “See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Heb. 12:15).
10. The church takes care of each other well. “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold” (Acts 4:34).
11. The most appreciated people in the church are often the least seen. The leaders of the church are most likely to give up “their” seats, park further from the building, or do whatever is necessary to help the body. “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matt. 23:11).
12. Church members live their life with mission and purpose, without being asked to do so. “Go, therefore, and make disciples …” (Matt. 28:19).
Of course, there are no perfect churches. And, so no church has 100 percent of the people—or any one person—getting all of these right. But, increasingly over time a church making disciples should see growth and improvement in people who behave more like Jesus and more like who we’ve been commanded to be. That’s what discipleship is.
Ron Edmondson is CEO of Leadership Network, former pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, and the planter of two churches. This article originally appeared on RonEdmondson.com.