John Markum

Discipleship is a Process

Discipleship doesn’t happen overnight because it is a process.

As Christ-followers, and especially church leaders, all too often we get frustrated when people we want to see grow spiritually, don’t. Also people often get bogged down in their own spiritual life and feel “stuck” in a rut, not knowing what to do to move forward in their spiritual walk. And yet, there are still others who think they are spiritually mature based on how long they’ve been in church or how much Bible knowledge they hold.

But there is far more to it than that. I’ve created this graph and explained the stages in it below so that, as a follower of Jesus, you can answer three important questions:

  •             Where am I spiritually?
  •             What is my next step?
  •             How can I help others take their next step?

I’ve also lumped these stages into 4 categories: Pray, Serve, Teach, Lead. And each progressing category includes everything in the preceding category. To be clear, it’s not that we shouldn’t “Serve” people who are Hostile toward church or the Gospel, it’s just that we’re unlikely that we’ll be given a chance to. So here are the different Stages I’ve listed in the graph above. Each one includes a description of these people to help you identity them (or yourself), problems likely to face as we try to love them toward Christ, and an appropriate response toward them in light of all of that.


–                Hostile

  • Expresses anger toward God, church, or religion in general. Usually has a specific issue that serves as their “soapbox” against these things.
  • Problems: Unreceptive toward any message. Outspoken against the church.
  • Response: Do not fight. Give these people good, despite their hostile feelings and actions.

 –                Annoyed

  • Less anger, more just complaining. Still makes a big deal about specific issues, although likely to have a conversation about those issues.
  • Problems: Argumentative. Likely to get to the point of not wanting to talk about it anymore.
  • Response: Have conversations on their terms. Continue to maintain a non-defensive posture. Continue showing good, despite their aggravations. Agree with legitimate complaints without justifying dark places of “church history” (Inquisitions, etc.).

–                Ambivalent

  • Beginning to see the difference in our church. Speaks neither good nor bad. This person “tolerates” us.
  • Problems: Easy to forget about this person.
  • Response: Continue demonstrating grace. Talk about things the church is doing. Begin inviting to different opportunities. Expect a “no” response. Don’t act disappointed. Continue showing grace anyway.


–                Curious

  • Still showing reservations about God, church, etc. Now asking questions.
  • Problems: Many questions relate to things that don’t make sense to them, “well why do you guys ________?” This person is curious, but still somewhat skeptical.
  • Response: Bless this person! Encourage their curiosity. Validate their process. Give context to the answers you give. Thanks them for coming if/when they show up for a service or small group.  Help them make connections with others. Encourage them to return.

 –                Seeking

  • It’s all starting to make sense to this person. They’ve decided that we’re not all crazy, and they are beginning to feel the Holy Spirit draw them, thought they probably wouldn’t know it as that.
  • Problem: This person can resist the Holy Spirit and regress.
  • Response: Give Gospel personally as well as in various “experiences”. Continue showing grace. Answer questions. Let them know you missed them if they skip a service/small group.

 –                Saved!

  • This person just stepped across the line of faith! They have been reborn!
  • Problems: Now the real work begins!
  • Response: Celebrate! This is why we do what we do. Encourage them toward baptism, and strengthen connections they’ve made. Give some next steps/follow up to this person, as they are likely to have a “now what?” posture.


–                Infant

  • This person is a baby Christian. They know little of the things of God, and require a lot of work.
  • Problems: This is messy! You might as well expect it.
  • Response: Use messes as teaching opportunities, and continue showing the same grace you did before they came to Christ. Feed this person’s insatiable appetite!

 –                Child

  • Getting the hang of the basics. Also has an annoying habit of getting into trouble! This person should begin “feeding themselves.”
  • Problems: They are going to test boundaries.
  • Response: They need structure and grace. They’ll also want to do more “adult” things. Encourage this, by giving increasing opportunities.


–                Adolescent

  • This person is not fully mature, but they are starting to contribute (i.e tithing, serving, etc.).
  • Problems: Makes mistakes less often, has a risk of getting comfortable and complacent.
  • Response: Continue to disciple. Cast vision to this person about making other disciples. Help them get to the place where they are “teaching others also.”

 –                Adult/Parent

  • This person has started to disciples others. We would consider this person spiritually “mature” regarding their conduct and understanding of spiritual things.
  • Problems: Possibility of going “rogue”.
  • Response: Keep connected to the vision of the church and leverage their maturity to lead others (small group leader, ministry leader, etc.).

–                Grandparent

  • This person has discipled someone who has matured to the point of discipling others.
  • Problems: Minimal. This person may get frustrated with others who have not matured to the point they have.
  • Response: Consider this person for staff/Leadership Team. Encourage this person to continue making reproducing disciples.

Use this to grow in your spiritual life, and to help lead others to do the same.


Pastor John Markum

Curious thought on the Name of God…

Recently I’ve been preaching a message series at Edgewood’s Sunday night service on The Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Specifically, I’ve been focusing on the implications of God referring to Himself through the Scriptures as the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Last night I preached on a particularly favorite story of mine among the patriarchs: Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32. Yes, God. Not an angel, but the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ Himself, in this preachers humble opinion (Gen. 32:30).

In order for Jacob to receive the blessing from this peculiar visitor that he had so desperately been seeking his whole life, really, the “Man” asks Jacob, “What is your name?”

For real?!? Don’t you know who you’ve been wrestling with all night? Of course He does. When God asks us a question, it isn’t because He doesn’t know the answer, it’s because He wants us to think about something. Jacob had to relive the last time he asked a different man for a blessing… his father, 20 years earlier. Only, that time He lied to his father and duped him into thinking that He was his older brother, Esau – who under normal circumstances would receive his fathers blessing, not Jacob.

But as Jacob confesses his true identity, simultaneously admitting to being the “heal-cather,” or “trickster” that his name implies, God tells him that he will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel. God gave Jacob a new name. This one exchange alone changes the rest of the Bible! Israel would become the name of God’s people, Jacob’s descendents – ironically, of whom Christ would be incarnated into.

Then Jacob – very humbled and curious, I believe – returns the question, “Tell me your name, I pray.” And the Man, a.k.a. Christ, simply says, “Why is it that you ask about my name?” and then He blessed him.

Interestingly, God would later reveal Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… Not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Why? Is it even important? I think so. Though God took away Jacob’s old identity as the “heal-catcher” which would have betrayed his past life, and gave him a new name, representing his new identity in Christ, He kept the name of Jacob’s past for Himself. But why?

I believe that as Romans 5:8 tells us that, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” this name exchange is a beautiful portrayal of Gods love toward all “Jacobs”. By identifying Himself as the God of Jacob, It’s as if God is declaring His love for us in our imperfect, broken, sinful state. He is not just the God of the forgiven, healed, and whole. He doesn’t just love us once we’ve come to His Son in faith. He loves us when we are lost in our sin, held hostage by our past, and empty on the inside… just like Jacob.

God took for Himself the name of Jacob’s past and gave Jacob a new name representing his future. Just like Christ took our old life with Him to the grave, rising again to give us a new life, a new future, and a new identity. And one day, He will give us a new name as well. Jacob just got his early – a promise to all of us who confess to God our brokenness in sin and our need for Him who can change us.

I’m grateful that He is not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the God of other sinners, too. Like me.

“I AM SIN” Series

What if the things that get us tangled up were more obvious? If we could see sin for what it really is, we might be surprised at how devastating, and how beatable, it really is. Join us at Edgewood on Saturday nights, 5pm, for a series on temptation, sin, guilt, and forgiveness.

We’re very excited to be introducing this sermon series this fall! Knowledge is powerful when applied correctly. So we’re having a frank series that deals with the our sin issues, puts them into the right perspective, and equips people with the right tools to overcome their sin. We wanted to go with a spooky kind of theme for the end of October without it feeling cheesy. Check out this preview video below for a better look at what’s coming.



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