3 Marks of Real Discipleship

Blog Author: Alexandra Busto

My senior year of high school was the first time I was seriously discipled by someone. Even though the previous curriculum I went through was amazing, my discipleship experiences were limited by larger group sizes that made meetings more impersonal. I was satisfied with what I had experienced those years, but never knew what it was like to be discipled on a more personal basis.

Reconsidering Discipleship

From Scripture, we know that discipleship is close to God’s heart. Jesus was only on earth for a little over 30 years. Yet despite the many things He could have done, we see Jesus intentionally investing in his twelve disciples. This pattern of discipleship we see continued throughout Scripture. Jesus’ last command in Matthew 28:19 was “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Since this was the last thing that Jesus said while He was on earth, it seems like something that we should take seriously as followers of Christ.

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul also says to Timothy, “You have heard me teach these things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” This idea of discipleship can be extremely intimidating. As Francis Chan points out, we are quick to talk about discipleship but rarely actually do it. We often know Jesus’ command to make disciples, but sometimes aren’t sure exactly how.

Marks of Effective Discipleship:

  1. Personal Relationship

IMG_0798No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. This makes relationship crucial to the process of discipleship. Jesus illustrated this by how He
interacted with the twelve disciples. They were always by Jesus’ side. He took them wherever He went, taught them along the way and invested in them through the many ups and downs of his ministry. The sheer amount of time he spent with them speaks volumes about how much He cared.

My eyes were opened to the importance of relationship when Katie started discipling me. As we hung out on a regular basis, she got to know me, my story, and my struggles. Through this process, God used her to speak truth into the lies that I was so foolishly falling into. This time with her was so precious and it was obvious that God was using her to impact and alter my life.

  1. Emphasis on Scripture & Community

Hebrews 4:12 is clear that Scripture changes lives. While some groups meet to catch up on IMG_2213life, these meetings lack an important part of discipleship if they don’t include Scripture. Scripture guides us and reveals what it is in our hearts. It teaches us who God is which is critical because it is hard to follow – much less love – someone that we don’t know.

In addition to Scripture, discipleship should include community. God never called us to do life alone and the encouragement and support we can receive when engaged in discipleship with others is absolutely amazing. For us, Katie eventually created a group of two other girls and I and we went through a book together. The bonds and relationships I formed with this group were so sweet and encouraging. I experienced discipleship as personal and relational. I wasn’t in a classroom; I was with sisters in Christ, learning about Him and growing together.

  1. Replication

IMG_1104Discipleship without multiplication is not real discipleship. While Katie was discipling me, I had the opportunity to disciple a younger girl in the youth ministry, Cherith. When I imagined what discipleship would look like, I imagined myself doing most of the teaching and guiding.

However, this was not the case. My time with Cherith was so valuable. As I watched and listened to her love for Christ grow and extend to others, I was inspired and captivated. I learned what God was teaching her and understood the curriculum that we were going through more thoroughly. God used this experience to grow and humble me as I was able to see how there is always more to learn.


Discipleship created a desire in me to know God more and to seek Him on a daily basis. At first the idea of having such a personal and open relationship with someone may seem intimidating because it requires transparency. The benefits of these interactions, however, far outweigh any discomforts. When we open up to another person or group, we create accountability as well as invest in a community of believers that can encourage and lead us towards Christ.

No one can live up to God’s standards apart from Christ. So if we find ourselves intimidated by the idea of discipling someone else, we need to demolish the idea that we have to be picture perfect Christians who never stumble in their walk with Christ and instead truly open up to the people that we lead. This process of being discipled and discipling others produces growth which leads us closer to Christ. It is a pursuit that is definitely worth the challenges.

Meet Alexandra

IMG_1489What’s the dream after finishing college?

After college I plan to go to PA school and possibly seminary. Then I want to do medical missions somewhere overseas.

What is your favorite discipleship memory?

My favorite discipleship memory was probably listening to Cherith talk about what God was teaching her. I loved hearing how God was working in her life and how she was seeking Him.

How are you currently discipling?

In the fall I will be leading a small group of freshmen girls and I’m hoping to find a girl or a group of girls to disciple. I am also looking to find a woman at my church in college to disciple me.

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