Vibrant Discipleship: A Natural Bent in Discipleship

By Liz Steckel

Developing and maintaining a vibrant discipleship model is something we in church culture often covet. In the never-ending process of creating new ideas, it can become easy for leaders in the Church to develop a natural bent when it comes to those whom we disciple. Whether in personality, social status, or basic commonality, we tend to invest in those we relate to most. It would not be out of bounds to say that we often sideline someone based on an awkward first impression or a perceived lack of potential for leadership. A mentor of mine recently unveiled how this bent was present in my own personal discipleship approach.

As a young gun, I tend to pursue the youthful, energetic volunteer and cast a vision of what our ministry could look like if we raised them up as the next “fill in the blank.” While one’s ambition is to be applauded, favoritism is not. In Scripture we are called to equip all the saints, not just those who are most attractive to us.

Ephesians 4:11–12 states, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

Jesus handpicked those with diverse personalities and backgrounds in those whom He discipled on purpose. He was intentional. Thus I began a personal three-pronged approach: Three pods. Three sets of individuals. Three areas of development.

Pod 1: Recent visitors/New believers (Identify three people.)

These are the men and women who have walked through your doors or down the aisle in the past three months. They will be a breath of fresh air to your spirit and will stretch you in the fundamentals of church connection.

Pod 2: Those involved but not connected (Identify three people.)

These are individuals currently on the periphery of your classes and services. Our role is to help move them from being mere spectators to becoming engaged members. Seek them out and set them up for connection.

Pod 3:  Strong leaders (Identify three people.)

These are your key influencers. They are volunteers leading healthy Sunday school classes and Bible Fellowships who need to multiply in order to birth new classes and further grow the Church.

The third pod probably sounds the most attractive to us as leaders because it is typically where momentum is found. We are called, however, to equip the saints as a whole. The book Transformational Discipleship states “Leaders must recognize that success is measured not in the number of followers they gather but in the number of leaders they unleash into God’s mission.” Our approach to discipleship must maintain a balance or we run the risk of sidelining the very people whom Christ desires to be launching pads for the ministry of His Church.


Liz Steckel serves as the Young Singles Women’s Director at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX.