Growing as a Disciple

Growing as a Disciple

Growing as a disciple of Jesus is a key facet of our church’s mission and a primary focus of our gatherings. To accomplish this mission, we need to know the answer to two key questions: What is a disciple? How do I grow?

What is a disciple?

At Richland Creek, we want every member to be a growing disciple, which we define as someone who trusts, follows and obeys Jesus from a heart of love and helps others do the same. We know that growing as a disciple is a multifaceted process—not just a class, a book, a seminar, or even an activity, but a whole-life endeavor marked by the increasing presence of spiritual fruit (Gal 5:16-23; 2 Pet. 1:5-8).

How do I grow as a disciple?

We have identified eight keys areas of focus—habits we can choose and cultivate regularly as we trust, follow, and obey Jesus—that we see Jesus doing or that he commands us to do in His Word. These eight areas will inform our church’s teaching and shape our accountability.

  • Worship God. Jesus called us to worship faithfully (John 4:23-24; Ps. 100; Rom. 12:1-2).
  • Gather with the body of Christ and pursue membership in the church. Jesus gathered to worship, calling us to commit ourselves to one another.
  • Know God in His Word. Jesus loved Scripture, taught Scripture, followed Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Ps. 119, others). Disciples will pursue an increasing knowledge of God.
  • Pray. Prayer was a cornerstone of Christ’s life, so it should be for us personally and corporately (Matt. 5:7-13; 1 Thess. 5:16-18).
  • Give. Disciples must not be given over to the love of money or possessions but instead, invest in the kingdom of God (2 Cor. 9:6-8; Luke 21:1-4)
  • Serve. Jesus modeled service and giving perfectly (Mark 10:45; Matt. 25:34-40; Rom. 12:3-8).
  • Repent of sin. We must be genuine before God, with ourselves, and in front of others (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 1 Jn 1:9; Ps. 32:5-6; Jam. 5:16).
  • Reproduce. Jesus commanded us to share the gospel with unbelievers and make more disciples (Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 3:13-16; Luke 24:45-48; 2 Tim. 2:2).

To be sure, we do not believe that walking as a disciple can be easily reduced to a list of “do’s” and “do nots.” Discipleship starts with the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit of God when a person is declared righteous in Christ through faith in His death, burial, and resurrection. Our growth as a disciple comes about both because of the supernatural work of God’s Spirit in us and our grace-fueled efforts toward personal holiness (2 Thess. 1:11-12; 2 Pet. 1:3-11; Phil. 3:14). Spiritual growth is fundamentally a work of the Holy Spirit in the context of a local church family; “God in us” produces Christlikeness and holiness (Phil. 1:6). We join the Holy Spirit in His transforming work through corporate and personal discipleship (Heb. 12:1-2; Phil. 2:12-13).

In growing as a disciple, our lives will look something like this:

 

We begin with our identity as children of God by grace through faith in Christ, then let that truth motivate our choices and daily habits to follow him, which over time can produce the spiritual fruit of righteousness. This spiritual fruit we see then strengthen our faith, encourages us in our identity, and the process begins again anew—every day becoming more like Jesus. This entire, lifelong process is funded by God’s grace and the presence of the Spirit.

Our Discipleship Pathway

We don’t believe that the process of trusting, following and obey Jesus from a heart of love happens in a vacuum, but in the context of a local church. It takes a church to make a disciple, and no particular gathering or church program can claim exclusive rights to the discipleship process.

The presence of the Word, the practice of prayer, and the pattern of the gospel undergird everything we do. Our efforts have these things in common as they aim to help us trust, follow, and obey Jesus from a heart of love. At the same time, all of these efforts are distinct and uniquely contribute to our growth. They form Richland Creek’s Discipleship Pathway, whereby all members can grow as disciples and contribute to the church's mission.

  • Worship is the congregational gathering of our church where we sing, pray, and learn together. This is the bedrock of our discipleship and our primary weekly rhythm, where glorifying God in worship and growing as disciples of Christ are both emphasized.
  • Life Groups are mid-sized communities of faith and learning. They emphasize growth by taking a balanced approach to knowledge, relationships, and giftedness. They are open groups, a “home base” for ongoing relational discipleship, and the second step, beyond worship, for most people getting involved at the Creek.
  • Grow Groups are circles of encouragement and honesty, emphasizing relational commitment and spiritual discipline in a more intimate atmosphere.
  • Equipping opportunities, like classes and conferences, focus on knowledge transfer, growing our understanding of the Word, and key skills for applying it.
  • Ministry and Mission Teams provide opportunities to serve and go on mission while also encouraging relationships.