The Discipleship Assessment by NextSteps
Spiritual Growth & Our Discipleship Assessment
The NextSteps Discipleship Assessment is only one important part of this powerful disciple-making program. So, what role does our assessment play? Imagine that you were asked to disciple a church member. The natural first step would be to learn about the disciple, to gain a sense of his/her present spiritual status (i.e., Linear Discipleship) and personal struggles (i.e., Felt-Needs). Our assessments serve as the “getting to know you” stage of personal discipleship. NextSteps offers two integrated assessments, our Discipleship Assessment, addressed here, and our Felt-Need Assessment. The Discipleship Assessment assesses your people’s spiritual development across a faith-spectrum ranging from Discover, to Develop, and finally to Deploy.
NOTE: The content presented within our default NextSteps program is theological and so not likely the verbiage you would choose to use for your church. However, we present our information theologically so that church leaders will understand the kind of information we are addressing within our titles, question pools, and reports.
Nine Developmental Phases
Our Discipleship Assessment allows for spiritual progression through each major phase: Discover, Develop, and Deploy. Each includes three sub-phases. So for example, one person within the Discover phase may have just come to acknowledge that there is a God, while a second person in this group is ready to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. For this reason, we offer nine formation phases in all. The graphic below depicts our nine phases with their default theological definitions. Remember, your church may change our default labels to any title you wish. However, you must retain a 9-phase spiritual growth structure.
THE DISCOVER PHASES
1) CONSIDERATION –
This is the earliest phase of spiritual development when an individual begins to consider the possibility of the existence of a God, and the consequences that this possibility may have upon his/her life.
2) EXPLORATION –
This is the phase of spiritual development when people are most open to spiritual matters, but are often unsure whether there are many paths to the same God, or if there is only one path to having a relationship with the one true God.
3) DECISION –
This is the point at which people now recognize that there is only one true God, and the pathway to a relationship with God has been provided for us through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, upon the cross as our all sufficient atoning sacrifice for our sin-nature and sin-acts. At this point, people are generally ready to express their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
THE DEVELOP PHASES
4) CONTRITION –
Now a Christian, he/she is aware that their lifestyle does not reflect Christ’s character. Aware of their sin, they try to work at cleaning-up their lives. But Paul states in Galatians 3:3 – “ Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” The baby-Christian must learn to surrender to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, or become spiritually frustrated by their struggle with sin. He/she begins reading the Bible, likely for the first time. They are hungry to learn, and have many questions.
5) SANCTIFICATION –
At this stage, the Christian begins to develop a personal testimony. He or she now experiences the Holy Spirit at work in their lives, freeing them of bondage to sins. However, some sins may be spiritual strongholds that will take time, faith, and perseverance, before freedom in Christ is experienced. This is the stage where the Christian begins to understand basic doctrines, and supportive Biblical reference. Additionally, they often become evangelistic since they have tasted that the Lord is good, and so they begin telling their friends and family.
6) TRANSFORMATION –
The developing Christian can now tell people about how different they used to live before faith in Christ, from how they live now. The Fruit of the Spirit is blossoming. Their character more and more reflects Jesus Christ. As the Holy Spirit continues His good work, the Christian’s focus now shifts from self to serve others. They seek to learn about Spiritual Gifts, and to discover how God designed them, and gifted them, to serve. They begin question what their true “calling” and “purpose” may be.
THE DEPLOY PHASES
7) PARTICIPATION –
At this stage, the Christian does not yet fully understand their “calling”. Nor do they clearly perceive their giftedness. So, they just want to chip-in and help where they may be useful. They may have an area of personal interest such as children’s or teen ministry, but they do not have a clear sense of what their role within these ministries ought to be. This is the period where other more mature Christians begin to affirm aspects of true giftedness within the Christian, and speak into their lives of their ministry potential.
8) PREPARATION –
Having now come to terms with how God designed the Christian to serve Him and others, and now also understanding how God has gifted him or her to serve, it is time to hone and develop their ministry potential. It is generally at this stage where the Christian begins to learn about the various parts of the Body of Christ, and the importance of surrounding oneself with people who are strong where they are weak.
9) ELECTION –
The Christian has not reached perfection. Nor has God completed His work developing the Christian. But it is at this stage that the Christian can truly say: “God put me on this planet, at this time in history, at this geographical location, to accomplish this specific ministry mission“. Additionally, the Christian, at this stage, will become an important member of a ministry team, and will likely also begin mentoring and developing up-and-coming ministry leaders.