5 Essentials of Discipleship

If you were going to start discipling a 21 year old college student, which five things would you aim for? Probably something about identity in Christ, service, understanding the bible, understanding the need to evangelize, how to pray, and other things along those lines right? Well let me suggest 5 different things… I would love to hear your feedback!

I was recently given an article with no name on it, so I don’t know who wrote it, but apparently the author is a pastor from a church called Mosaic, so I am assuming its Erwin McManus. Here are the 5 essentials of discipleship that he lists:

  1. Gratitude
  2. Humility
  3. Wholeness
  4. Integrity
  5. Leadership

1- Gratitude: It begins with gratitude for the cross. Gratitude for the cross sets us up to be grateful for all the things that God has done in our lives, but it also teaches us to be grateful towards us others. How grateful are they for the cross? How grateful are they about their family, job, position in life, etc?

2-Humility: Once you see gratitude peek through the next step is humility. Is there pride within your disciple? If so what sorts of things do they boast in? How do you address their pride?

3-Wholeness: The author defines it in a weird way, he says wholeness is “giving more than you take.” That doesn’t really seem like wholeness to me, but a person who is functionally broken doesn’t usually have the resources to give more than they take, so I guess it makes sense. Is this person quick to give or are they primarily a receiver?

4-Integrity: Can this person be trusted? Are they genuine in serving? It’s a tough topic to wrap your head around, but a person with integrity is not two-faced, when they serve they don’t have ulterior motives.

5-Leadership: This is the end goal in discipling, getting them to a point where they can take the lead in discipling others. As Thomas Wood says, leaders don’t reproduce disciples, they reproduce other leaders. Are you setting them up for leadership when you disciple them? Or are you setting up to be dependent upon you for the rest of their walk with Christ?

So what would you add to this list? What would you take out? Or am I completely off the mark?


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

5 thoughts on “5 Essentials of Discipleship

  1. Have you read “The Lost Art of Disciple Making” by LeRoy Eims, Chris? If not, I’d highly recommend it. And if you have, I think that would be how I’d sum up the essentials: Evangelism (presentation of the Gospel), Establishing (Assurances, basic disciplines), Equipping (character, skills, life knowledge), and Exporting (sending them off to do the same with others). I feel like the five that you’ve mentioned here fall under Equipping (specifically under addressing character) and that “wholeness” and “integrity” are two sides of the same coin. After all, one of the definitions of integrity is being undivided and completely sound, like a building’s structural integrity or a ship’s hull’s integrity.

    I dunno, those are just some initial, off the cuff thoughts. I think all five you suggest are good! Good food for thought.

    1. I haven’t read that book yet, but I think you are absolutely right; it seems to be primarily about Equipping. When I read the list I felt like it was too character driven, almost moralistic, but if this list is intended as character goals then I feel more comfortable with that.

  2. I agree with your 5 essentials of discipleship. I have been reading through Francis Chan’s book Multiply, which I believe is a good resource for college aged students. I meet with a couple of students once a week and we discuss how to become a better follower of Jesus Christ. The goal is to disciple these students so they can disciple others. I believe leadership development is a crucial aspect that is missing in our evangelical churches today. Thanks for the post!

    1. I also really liked Multiply, it was definitely written in such a way that it was geared towards college students. I actually work alongside of Mark Beuving, the guy who co-wrote it with Francis; Mark teaches at Eternity Bible College….

      You are also spot on about development being missing in our churches today. For great ways how to grow in this area I would recommend you pick up and read “Exponential” by Dave and Jon Ferguson its a great book.

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