For sixty years now, he’s been with The Navigators, known for their discipling. So don’t expect Jerry Bridges to be naive about the process of disciplemaking.
Recently, when Bridges joined us at the Desiring God offices, he made some insightful observations about what he calls “two stages of disciplemaking.” He gave us permission to hit record, and we discussed his reflections in the latest episode of Theology Refresh.
An initial and primary stage, he says, is about helping baby Christians begin to grow and learn to be self-feeders in God’s word and in prayer and in the local church. This first stage of disciplemaking involves simply being a spiritual parent to a child in the faith. It can, and should, be done by any Christian with some maturity. “Every brand new Christian ought to have an individual who disciples them, who helps them take those baby steps and begin to grow in the Christian life,” says Bridges.
But the local church is not just an orphanage for young children, but a home for spiritual adults. A second stage of disciplemaking is training. This is what the apostle Paul primarily has in mind in that memorable verse on disciplemaking, 2 Timothy 2:2, says Bridges. This second stage helps the disciple discover their spiritual giftings and how to maximize those in the body of Christ, in caring for and leading others. This discipling is more directed toward training the next generation and is not necessarily what every Christian is called to, but those appropriately gifted and trained.