The Profound Significance of Apostolic Discipleship

How do I help disciple others in their walk towards Christ?
How do I grow in my own relationship with Jesus?

Apostolic DiscipleshipDiscipleship is a lifelong process we never graduate from. So every believer needs to be intentional in their own pursuit of life long spiritual growth. As a professional PreK – 12th grade educator deeply rooted in the Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal community, I have come to recognize the remarkable parallels between my own lifelong journey of spiritual discipleship and the process we all go through in obtaining an education from preschool through college. Both paths involve intentional growth, strategic plans, and a commitment to lifelong learning. And just as parents prayerfully consider the most appropriate educational institution and curriculum for their children, it’s imperative that every church develop a strategic plan for ongoing Apostolic discipleship for all ages and stages of their church members, as well as provide an intentional approach for discipling new believers in their first year of coming to the Lord.

Laying the Foundation

Preschool acts as a crucial foundation for the educational journey, introducing young minds to fundamental concepts and skills, while the early stages of Pentecostal discipleship lay the groundwork for a lifelong journey of faith. Just as preschool nurtures curiosity, spiritual discipleship fosters a hunger for God’s truth, love, and grace, allowing young believers to discover foundational biblical truths and develop a personal relationship with Jesus. Proverbs 22:6 reminds us of the importance of training up a child in the right path to ensure their lifelong adherence to it. Elements, a program designed for new converts, provides a comprehensive approach to grounding them in the Word of God within their first six months of walking with Him.

Nurturing Growth

Elementary school provides a nurturing environment for academic growth, guiding students through various subjects and cultivating their character. Similarly, spiritual discipleship offers believers a supportive church community and discipleship programs that foster growth and maturity. One such Apostolic discipleship program is Discipleship Now from the United Pentecostal Church International. This stage of learning focuses on building a strong foundation in faith, developing spiritual habits, and deepening their personal relationship with God. As Psalm 119:105 proclaims, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” echoing the role of mentors and church leaders who guide believers in their spiritual growth.

Expanding Horizons

Middle school marks a period of expanding horizons as students encounter a broader range of subjects and opportunities for personal growth. Similarly, the middle phase of spiritual discipleship encourages believers to explore deeper theological concepts, engage in Bible study groups, and participate in mission work, fostering spiritual exploration and expansion. As believers apply biblical teachings to their daily lives and seek to become more like Jesus, they develop a broader understanding of God’s plan, guided by the profound truth of Isaiah 55:9:

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In the pursuit of ongoing personal spiritual growth, More Like Him by James Littles Jr. serves as an excellent book, inviting learners to examine the process of aligning their lives with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Drawing from a lifetime of faith and careful examination of Scripture, Littles shares insightful teachings that gently nudge readers towards a closer walk with the Master. As they delve into the book, believers will discover joy and a refreshing in their spirit, experiencing spiritual enrichment akin to the expanding horizons of middle school.

A Time of Decision and Focus

The high school years mark a significant juncture where crucial decisions are made and focused study takes place. In alignment with this, spiritual discipleship enters a stage where believers encounter personal choices concerning their faith and their commitment to following Jesus. This phase entails delving deeper into Scripture, equipping individuals to articulate and defend their beliefs, as well as empowering them to boldly share the life-changing message of the gospel. Similar to high school students preparing for their next educational chapter, believers equip themselves to navigate the challenges of adulthood with a firm spiritual foundation, relying on the unwavering guidance of God and developing sensitivity to His voice. As Joshua 1:9 emphatically states,

“Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Follow to Lead - Rev. Stan Gleason Rooted in the essence of the Great Commission, Pastor Stan Gleason thoroughly explores the church’s essential mandate of disciple-making in his book Follow to Lead: The Journey of a Disciple Maker. Drawing from his own experiences as a proficient disciple maker, he passionately inspires every believer to embrace the profound call of making disciples.

Pursuing Higher Understanding

College signifies a time of pursuing higher education and specialized knowledge. Similarly, in spiritual discipleship believers continue to seek a deeper understanding of God’s Word and His purposes. This phase involves engaging in theological studies, participating in advanced discipleship courses, and developing leadership skills within the church. As Proverbs 2:6 reminds us,

“For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

Just as college prepares students for their chosen career paths, spiritual discipleship equips believers to serve in ministry, impact their communities, and confidently fulfill their divine calling.

Be a Lifelong Learner

The journey of spiritual discipleship within the Oneness Pentecostal faith resonates powerfully with the educational process from preschool through college. Just as obtaining an education demands intentional growth, strategic plans, and a commitment to lifelong learning, spiritual discipleship requires a personal commitment, strategic discipleship plans, and an unwavering dedication to lifelong spiritual growth. By recognizing the profound parallels between these transformative journeys and drawing inspiration from Scripture, we can fully embrace the significance of spiritual discipleship in shaping our lives. Every church is encouraged to have a strategic plan for ongoing discipleship for all ages and stages, as well as an intentional approach for discipling new believers in their first year of coming to the Lord. To fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples, we require tools that align with the times we live in. It is crucial to establish a strategic partnership that bridges the gap between the home and the church, ensuring that discipleship transcends Sundays and becomes an integral part of daily life. God’s Word for Life is a comprehensive spiritual growth program designed for both individuals and whole churches. It empowers learners to cultivate a culture of daily discipleship through devotionals that reinforce the teachings learned each Sunday. With God’s Word for Life, churches can instill Apostolic truth and form lifelong disciples, fostering a deeper connection with God and a commitment to His Word.

Let us commit ourselves to intentional spiritual growth, nurture robust discipleship programs, and embark on a lifelong pursuit of understanding God’s Word. Together, we can impact lives, fulfill the Great Commission, and foster a community deeply rooted in faith, love, and purpose. As Ephesians 3:17–18 reminds us, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.”

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