Exponential asked Rick Warren to define discipleship:
Discipleship is the process of transformation that changes us to be increasingly more like Christ through the Word (John 17:17), the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18), and circumstance (Rom. 8:28-29). Growth is both mystical and practical; God has a part (“Only God makes things grow” 1 Cor. 3:7) but we have a part as well (“…put off…and put on”Eph.4:22-23). Discipleship is based on continual repentance (“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Rom. 12:1-2). It takes far more than Bible study to grow a disciple – it takes a balance of worship experiences, fellowship experiences, engagement with the Word, ministry experiences, and evangelism/mission experiences. Without balance there is no health, and without health, there is no growth. Jesus modeled both the method and goal of all discipleship, moving the 12 from “Come and see” to “Come and die!” over a period of three years. The strategy we’ve used for 32 years (purpose driven) is a systematic, sequential catechism that moves people along the predictable stages of discipleship from unbeliever to believer to member to maturity to ministry to mission, based on Jesus’ model. If you don’t have a process, you aren’t making disciples, because spiritual growth is not automatic. Discipleship is intentional, incremental, relational, covenantal, habitual, and incarnational.