The Pathway Devotional #10 - Continuum of Growth

posted by Church Bethel | May 23, 2019

For many of you here at Bethel, this graphic will be familiar. For those of you who have yet to see this, you will find its significance no less relevant. 

Jim Putman, founder and senior pastor of Real Life Ministries, wants people to see spiritual growth as a natural part of their Christian journey by teaching the five stages of a disciple’s spiritual life.

Read through the 5 stages and see if you can identify people you know relative to the various categories.
Stage 1: Spiritually Dead
People in this stage have not yet accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. They may completely reject God, they may be seeking God, they may be “spiritual’, they may even claim to know God or be a Christian, when in reality, they are their own god.
They are…
…lost and unaware of it
…living out their feelings
Phrases They Might Say…
“I believe there are many ways to Heaven.”
“I’m a good person.”
“I think there may be a higher power.”
“I’m too busy for a small group.”
Stage 2: Spiritual Infant
In this stage, people have accepted Christ, but haven’t moved much past that point. They can be new believers or they might be stagnant, long-time Christians. Life is generally all about them and their needs.
They are…
…the lord of their life.
…confused about what truth is.
…beginning to learn the truth.
Phrases They Might Say…
“Christians are hypocrites.”
“I’m a good person, a loving God would never send me to Hell.”
“The Church just wants my money.”
“I’m too busy for a small group.”
Stage 3: Spiritual Child
In this stage, people are growing in their relationship with God and are also beginning to grow in their relationship with other Christians. They are applying God’s Word in their life and allowing others to walk beside them in their journey following Christ. However, it’s still mostly about them – their needs, comfort, etc.
They are…
…growing in their relationship with God.
…building relationships with other believers.
…developing habits of Bible study and prayer
…plugging into relational environments for the purpose of discipleship (small groups)
…giving of their time and money.
Phrases They Might Say…
“I love my church because I feel like I belong.”
“My small group is great! They make me feel welcome.”
“I’m upset about having to branch our small group. I just started making friends.”
Stage 4: Spiritual Young Adult
In this stage, people are making a big shift from being self-centered to more others-centered. They’re beginning to understand their role as a giver, rather than a taker – ministering to others, putting others first – being doers of the Word.
They are …
…becoming less self-centered and more others-centered.
…beginning to see themselves as ministers.
…tithing and giving of their time from a place of thankfulness and love.
…understanding the Kingdom purpose of branching their small group.
Phrases They Might Say…
“I’m going got visit Bob in the hospital tonight rather than going to the movies.”
“I’m serving in the nursery so that parents can attend a service.”
“I need to branch my small group, but no one else is ready to lead.”
Stage 5: Spiritual Parent
In this stage, the Parent has a solid understanding of God’s Word and a deep, abiding relationship with the Father. They are living out God’s Word in their lives daily. They are others-centered and God-dependent. They are able to reproduce mature disciples of Christ by inviting others to follow them as they follow Christ.
They are…
… mature disciples of Jesus, but continually growing and developing in their personal relationship with God and as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
…skilled at assessing where others are in the discipleship process and get personally involved to help them grow and develop.
…understanding their role as one who needs to intentionally invest in others – making disciples who can make disciples. 
…becoming a coach who develops other players/leaders.
Phrases They Might Say…
“I’m taking Steve with me the next time I visit Bob in the hospital to help him learn how to minister to others.”
“I have a couple good potential leaders in my home group that I’m going to personally invest in.”
“Larry is a fine home group leader, and he has really matured in his faith. I’m going to ask him to pray about becoming a coach.”
So, there you have the 5 stages of the spiritual growth of a disciple.  I want to emphasize that this assessment is not a way of designating one believer as more valuable than another. It’s very important that disciple-makers and disciples understand the difference between value and usefulness.  While a mature Christian is more useful to the purpose of the Lord and the church than a spiritual infant or child, he or she is not more valuable.
Determining someone’s level of spiritual development is done purely for the sake of knowing how and where to lead them in their journey as a disciple. It is not to be used as a weapon to judge, but a tool to help you disciple.
You can read more on this topic in Jim Putman’s book Real Life Discipleship 
Information was adapted from Jim Putman’s free resource on 5 Stages of Spiritual Growth (Click Here) and (Here)

  1. Now that you have identified others within the 5 stages, reflect on which stage you are in.
  2. Once you have identified the corresponding stage relative to your growth, consider and write down what you believe your next steps should be.
  3. Many things jockey for our attention. Based on the time and money you spend, what are your chief priorities? How have you invested your time and resources into making disciples?
  4. Are there particular skills you feel you need to develop in order to be more effective in making disciples? What are they?
  5. Strategize for a moment on how you might attain the competencies or skills needed to be more effective in making disciples. Plan to tackle just one.
  6. Write out a prayer to God asking for His help in not only bringing clarity to where you are in your spiritual growth but also how you might help others along as well.

Get Directions SUN at 8:30 + 10:30A Contact Us