What is a disciple?

A disciple is someone who is created by the gospel to learn Christ and lead others to do the same, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Check out our Sermon series What is a Disciple? to learn more about what the Bible says it means to be a disciple.

Melissa Lowther - February 10, 2019

What is a Disciple? Spirit Power

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Characteristics of a disciple:

At NSCBC, we’re looking to develop disciples who are growing in these characteristics:

1) Are experiencing personal gospel renewal.

What does this mean? Timothy Keller helpfully describes personal gospel renewal this way: “Personal gospel renewal means the gospel doctrines of sin and grace are actually experienced, not just known intellectually. This personal renewal includes an awareness and conviction of one’s own sin and alienation from God and comes from seeing in ourselves deeper layers of self-justification, unbelief, and self-righteousness than we have ever seen before.There is a new, commensurate grasp of the wonder of forgiveness and grace as we shed these attitudes and practices and rest in Christ alone for salvation. Perhaps we have previously said that we were “resting in Christ’s work, not our own work” for salvation, but when we experience gospel renewal, we have a new clarity about what this means in our mind and a new experience of actually doing it with our heart.”This type of being renewed personally is the wellspring out of which all of the other changes will flow, both personally (greater growth in holiness, a greater hunger for God’s word, growth in hospitality and witness) and on a corporate & social level (the church loving one another well, being unified, working for justice in the world and defending the powerless).

2) Have a growing understanding of the gospel narrative, and how to apply it to the issues of their everyday life and world. (GOSPEL)

What does this mean? We hope to see people grow in their grasp—with both the head and heart—of the gospel narrative. By “the gospel narrative”, we are referring to the story of God’s gracious work to rescue and restore his fallen creation. We want people to feel like they can situate themselves in this narrative and apply its good news to their individual struggles, hopes, fears, and aspirations, as well as to pressing societal issues. We hope to see the gospel increasingly come to define and root people’s identities, such that they can grasp the call to live both distinctly different from the surrounding culture, yet also deeply engaged with it, for its benefit.

3) Are forming deep, meaningful, and honest friendships, both inside and outside of the church. (COMMUNITY)

What does this mean? Rich friendships are an incredible blessing in and of themselves, as we all search for a place to belong. They are also the primary context in which spiritual growth occurs. Friendships take hard work to form and maintain. We aim to see people striving to form the kind of friendships that are long lasting, transparent, and supportive; friendships where each person can feel safe to let their guard down and show their real selves.

4) Have a growing awareness of the everyday settings where God has placed them for mission and are intentionally trying to live as a witness for Christ there. (MISSION)

What does this mean? We often struggle to view the places where we spend most of our time during the day—our workplaces, schools, homes, cafes - as our mission fields, and lack the understanding, boldness, or creativity for how to live as fruitful witnesses for Christ in these settings. We aim to see people grasp that they are missionaries in these everyday settings, and make bold, creative efforts to communicate Christ’s grace there, in word and deed.

5) Are engaged in intentionally leading others to live as gospel-centered disciples, either formally or informally.

What does this mean? This is the hardest component to develop, as we often feel inadequate and untrained to pass on our own imperfect knowledge and example to other Christians. Though we’ll never have a perfect grasp of the first four points (above), we aim to see people intentionally passing on to others the grasp they do have. As Paul told Timothy, “What you have heard from me…entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2).The wording “formally or informally” means that the passing on could happen through an official church ministry, or simply in a relational setting. What matters is that the effort to pass it on is intentional, by identifying certain individuals and leading them in how to live as gospel-centered disciples.