How do you know when you’ve got one?

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.”  Whether you currently lead a small group, a missional community or a new church, Jesus’ words answer the all-important “Why?” We lead these initiatives because we want people to become disciples of Jesus. How do you know when they have?


In my experience, we are pretty diligent about, and even good at, counting.  We  count how many people attended.  We count how much money was given.  We count how many decisions were made or people baptized.  I’m not against counting – I suggest you should be counting all of those things – but counting doesn’t answer the question.  Counting attendance, offerings, decisions or even baptisms doesn’t tell us how many people have become disciples of Jesus.  It can’t, because counting only measures quantity and discipleship demands us to measure quality.  It’s the difference between asking someone how many kids they have (quantity) and asking how tall they are (quality).  To do that, we need some kind of standard, a yardstick, that tells us about the quality of the people we lead.



In my freshman year of college, I volunteered as part of a youth ministry in a local church.  I attended events, led a D-group of 3 Jr. High boys, and went to youth staff meetings. There I was given a worksheet that entitled, “How Do You Know When You’ve Got One?”  It was one page filled with a table.  Across the top were four age groups, from older elementary through college.  Down the left was a list of various aspects of discipleship, Bible, prayer, fruit of the spirit etc.  In each square in the table was a standard, a statement that said what a disciple looked like in that category.  This worksheet was how we agreed to measure disciples – it was our yardstick.


Can you answer the question: How do you know when you’ve got one? Do you have a yardstick for measuring discipleship?  If not, here are some questions that will help you get started.

  • What does a disciple need to know?

There is information essential to becoming a disciple of Jesus, like knowing Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin.  There is also information not essential to becoming a disciple of Jesus, like the dispensational interpretation of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24. Wrestling with what’s essential will allow you to focus on teaching things that are really important.

  • What kind of person does a disciple become?

This is the hard one.  The list of qualities is easy – just start with the fruit of the spirit in Ephesians 5.  The standards are where the real work starts.  How do you know when a person has peace, kindness, or gentleness?  Describing the fruit of the spirit in the same way you can probably describe a ripe strawberry will create clarity around the kind of people you are wanting to become.

  • What does a disciple of Jesus do?

Unfortunately, we are probably better at making lists of things followers of Jesus don’t do. Focus instead on clearly describing the things a person who follows Jesus does do – the habits that are evidence of being a disciple.  The danger of defining behavior is legalism. You can avoid that by identifying behaviors that are easily observable, yet undeniable evidence of discipleship.


Taking the time to define what it means to be a disciple will enable you to answer the all-important question.  How are you doing at making disciples?

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