What are we doing? How well is it working? With the help of the Barna Group, The Navigators uncovered key insights into questions disciplers must ask on a regular basis.
Here some of their findings:
- The research examined the language and terminology surrounding discipleship. They asked a random sample of Christians—including practicing and non-practicing Christians—what words or phrases they use to describe “the process of growing spiritually.” The most preferred term was “becoming more Christ-like” (selected by 43% of respondents), followed by “spiritual growth” (31%), and “spiritual journey” (28%).
The term “discipleship” ranked fourth on the list and was only selected by fewer than one in five Christians (18%). “Spiritual maturation” was next (16%). “Sanctification” (9%) and “spiritual formation” (5%) were relatively unused phrases among the general population of Christians.
- Despite many believing their church emphasizes spiritual growth, engagement with the practices associated with discipleship leave much to be desired. For example, only 20 percent of Christian adults are involved in some sort of discipleship activity—and this includes a wide range of activities such as attending Sunday school or fellowship group, meeting with a spiritual mentor, studying the Bible with a group, or reading and discussing a Christian book with a group.
- Christian adults are split on their preferences when it comes to models of discipleship: small group, one-on-one or individual (solitary) format. One-quarter prefers a small-group setting for discipleship (25%). Another one in five prefers a combination of group and one-on-one discipleship (21%) and 16 percent prefer one-on-one only. Thus, in total, about one-third of those pursuing spiritual growth are including some element of one-on-one, person-to-person discipleship.
- One in four Christians is currently being discipled by someone
- One in five is discipling someone else.
- A sizable majority of church leaders and pastors—six in 10—feels that churches are discipling “not too well” (60%).
Read more from the report Barna report – State of Discipleship