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

How to treat a new follower of Christ

I find it interesting that many church people would cross mountain and sea to bring their friend or loved one to Christ. But afterwards many of these same people expect them to change over night. It just doesn’t happen that way. Here are a few things that every newer follower of Christ needs from the people in their life that are suppose to be more mature in the Lord:

  1. Extra Grace: We’re suppose to be gracious to one another anyway, but especially to the person who has recently crossed the line of faith, we should understand that they need people to give them the benefit of the doubt and love them through some things. This often means patience as they identify themselves in the church family.
  2. Accountability: Giving them more grace does not mean they get away with inappropriate behavior or sin. What it does mean, is that we help them see where they need growth, relate personally to their difficulties when possible, and encourage them that we’re all becoming more like Christ together.
  3. Meaningful Friendships: The saying, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care” applies to everyone. Personally, I choose to take my criticism from the people who love me. So newer followers of Jesus need people who genuinely care about them as a person and not just as a “prospect” to their church.
  4. Opportunities to Grow: We all need new challenges to take us to higher levels. This is certainly true of a new believer. A baby wants to learn to roll over, then crawl, then walk, then run, then climb. New believers don’t want to sit in a crib forever either. They want a faith that is real, and we should encourage that. Help them find places to serve, share, learn, relate, and use their faith in practical ways.
  5. Freedom: All of us need the ability to be who and what God created us for individually. There is plenty of room for us to be different and yet unified. Our goal is unity, not uniformity. There is a difference. We can all be ourselves in plenty of areas. We should encourage new believers to discover their uniqueness in Christ. This also means providing the safety for them to ask honest questions and get honest answers.

Whether you are a newer follower of Jesus or a veteran, we all have room to grow. And to the seasoned follower of Jesus, you’re missing a huge part of your own spiritual growth if you’re not willing to love a new brother or sister in Christ into your church family. Be like Jesus and be inclusive!



It’s Time!

I’ve talked a lot lately about a momentum I feel here at Edgewood. As we experience God’s hand of favor we have seen more and more people getting connected to our church family, more individuals giving their lives to Christ in faith, going public with their faith through baptism, inviting friends to church with them, watching their friend’s life get changed by the Gospel, plugging into a ministry and serving, and on we could go. Regardless of how you slice it, there is something powerful taking place in our church!

Some critic out there is thinking, “It’s not all about the numbers, you know!” And they would be right (kinda). So why do we make such a big deal about the numbers? Why do we geek out over 1,880 people coming to our Easter weekend services, and a baptism rate that is on pace for 100+ new baptisms in 2011? Because they are not just numbers. Each number represents a life that is being changed. A marriage being restored. A teenager coming back home. A person far from God being awakened with life in Christ. A casual attender becoming a committed member. A shy, insecure woman boldly proclaiming to the world her faith in Jesus through baptism. And when we look at those statistics, make no mistake: we are all about the numbers!

And it’s when I look at the way God has been blessing us and moving in our people, that I’m overwhelmed with the thought that this is just the beginning. It is time for each of us to get serious about the calling that God has placed on our lives and on our church. This is not the time for the church to grow complacent about the impact God is bringing us. This is not the time to back down. We can not take this for granted! Instead, this is the time for each of us to rise into the holy anointing God has for all of His people, and for this church specifically.

  • If you are a committed member, stay faithful! Your commitment to the ministry of this church is producing a great impact for the Kingdom of God. Thank you for your faithfulness!
  • If you have been observing Edgewood from the sidelines, it’s time to get in the game! You were created to have a part in this move of God. Join us in turning the QC upside down with the Gospel!
  • If you have never shared what God is doing here with anyone else, step out of your comfort zone and invite someone to see it for themselves. We have 4 services every weekend, so there’s room for everyone!
  • If you are far from God, out of church, or burnt-out on church, I’m not saying we’re perfect, or even that we are the only thing God is doing in our city. What I am saying, is that God is doing some amazing things here and you have GOT to see this for yourself! We happen to be a little excited about it…



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