What is a disciple?

We are part of a church that we have grown to love over the past eight years that we have been part of it. For seven and a half of those years I served the church as pastor to seniors, but since my retirement at the end of last year we have decided to remain because we have sunk very deep roots in the soil of this wonderful church. A couple of years ago the board, after a great deal of prayer and consultation with the staff and congregation introduced a new vision statement that has caught my imagination. We are a community of disciples that passionately seek, obey, and reflect Jesus. I like that, but it raised a very interesting question for me – what is a disciple?

It’s one of those words that most of us feel that we understand until we actually try to define it. A disciple is just a follower of Jesus, isn’t it? But again, we are lapsing into church language without really defining what we are trying to say. In the Great Commission Jesus told His disciples that they were to make disciples, with a bit of an explanation – teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It sounds as though the disciple making process is somewhat more than simply praying the “sinner’s prayer”. It is a process, but what are the component parts of that process?

A few years ago, I came to the conclusion that I no longer had what could be referred to a “career trajectory. When I resigned from my current ministry position, I wouldn’t be taking on another assignment, I would be retiring. In the meantime, what did God want me to do? I felt that He wanted me to do more than simply mark time till I could retire. The more I prayed, the more I felt that He wanted me help prepare the next generation of Christian leaders for their ministries. I felt that God wanted me involved in this process of making disciples, but again, that stubborn question of what is a disciple kept raising its head.

 I started this process with two questions that I want to pose to you – what should a disciple know and what should a disciple do? I want to make it a bit easier for you to answer the question. Following is a list of some things I believe a disciple should know. What I want you to do is to prioritize them and add other things you think a well-rounded disciple should know. Later we will do a similar exercise with the question of what a disciple should do.

Please list the areas of knowledge you think a disciple should have, in order of priority in the comments section. If you aren’t able to insert this into the comment section, please email or message me on Facebook. Then add any other areas you think I have omitted.



Church history

Apologetics (Knowing what it is that a Christian believes)



World history

Christian world view

Don’t include any on your list that you don’t think are important and remember to add ones that you feel I missed. Future blog posts will be based in large part on your responses.

Well, till next week Keep the Son in Your Eyes.

2 thoughts on “What is a disciple?

  1. WebAdmin

    I would put the Bible, theology and apologetics all as number one, I would say they all go hand in hand, as well as doctrine. To know and understand theology you need to know your Bible, to have sound doctrine you must study your Bible, and to understand apologetics, you need to be well founded in the others, but all are important. Also, this might be nitpicking on words, but I would say apologetics is less of “what” you believe and more of “why” you believe it, and be able to back it up and defend it.

    Next I would say church history followed closely by world history. Both can shed light on how and why the doctrines and theology were described or interpreted the way they were as culture plays a large part in understanding what was said and how it was said. Also learning from what went wrong and why, or where, it went wrong can help us avoid making the same mistakes and instead grow, instead of having to relearn the same lessons ourselves that could have been avoided.

    Understanding human psychology can also be very helpful to all, especially our leaders, in helping one another in ways that have been overlooked and ignored for far too long and just passed off as “it’s a spiritual problem, you’re doing something wrong, figure it out yourself and fix it”.

    Philosophy can be helpful as an exercise, and understanding the world’s philosophy can potentially help us meet the world where they are at, but the subject should be approached with care and thoughtful prayer.

    I have placed Christian world view at the bottom simply because if you are truly a follower, or disciple, of Jesus and are always looking to Him, seeking Him in His Word, this will naturally fall into place as we will start to see the world from His perspective.

    I would also place in here, a desire to learn, to seek after the wisdom of God’s Word, to seek His Kingdom, to love one another as He loved us. Without that we are nothing but noisy instruments out of tune of His symphony.

  2. Bryan Ens

    It’s hard to prioritize a list of many important things, so I’m going to say Bible as number one… Especially the teachings and actions of Christ. Secondly would probably be looking to the examples of those who seek to exemplify Christ-like-ness. Including but not limited to mentorship


Leave a Reply