A Free Tool to Help You Grow

Below is a tool I developed to use in my discipleship ministries. I also use it for my own growth. Feel free to use it as you'd like. I can email you a pdf if you'd like to use it or distribute it to your church or small group. (The lines are lined up when I edit the post; disjointed when I publish it to the site.)

Discipleship Assessment

David W. Pendergrass, PhD

Why do I want to use an assessment?
Jesus commanded his Apostles to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19-20) and they did. This commandment begs two questions: what is a “disciple” and how is a disciple made? The What: “Disciple” means “learner, student, or adherent.” The How: Jewish disciples adopted the lifestyle and values of their teacher and obeyed what the teacher commanded. Making disciples involves two stages: (1) the initial confession and repentance of sins and placement of faith in Jesus and (2) the secondary stage of growing in faith within a Christian community.

Based on the Bible and church history, Christian disciples are persons who grow in three areas: (1) biblical knowledge (Mind), (2) consistent devotional habits (Heart), and (3) healthy, accountable relationships (Body).[1] Disciples are growing in Mind, Heart, and Body. These are the three areas covered in this assessment.

The purpose of this assessment is to help you determine if you are maturing as a disciple. It is also intended to help you think clearly about your growth. Remember three crucial points: (a) This tool is certainly not exhaustive; a comprehensive assessment would be much larger. (b) This is just a mirror; it is not an instrument of condemnation. (c) Growth takes time and is at God’s discretion. All we can do is commit ourselves to God and various Christian activities within which most growth occurs.

How do I use this assessment?
Carefully and slowly read the description of each area. Then read each assessment question. Then, on a scale from 1-10 (where 10 is perfect), rate yourself. Give the most honest answer you can. Don’t think too long. Don’t condemn yourself if it’s lower than you want. Then, write down what you’re committing to do in order to grow in that area. (Tip: Don’t write down, “I’ll try harder.” We all need resources and structure, so ask for it when needed.) Finally, keep this assessment with you. Use it as a guide to help you stay focused on growth.

Here’s an example:
1.       I read (or listen to) the Bible regularly (multiple times a week).                                                          5     
2.       I think about Bible verses during the day and apply them to daily activities.                                     7    

Plan of Action
To increase my discipleship, I commit to do the following:
I commit to listening to the Bible as I exercise. Also, I will not eat each day until I’ve read from the Bible. I will reach out to Christian Mentor for help in how to read it correctly. I will ask Christian Mentor how she applies the Bible to her life each day. I will ask her if she would meet with me twice a month so that we can discuss any failures or successes. I will call Christian Mentor Monday morning. If she can’t do it I’ll call other Christian Mentor and ask her.

Discipleship Assessment

Mind Disciples learn Scripture, understand it, and apply it to each area of life every day.
Before it was written down, disciples memorized the oral teaching from Jesus and the early church (for example, see Matt 28:19-20; Acts 18:11; 20:20; Rom 12:7; 16:17; 1 Cor 14:6; Col 1:28; 3:16; 1 Tim 4:6, 13; 5:17; 2 Tim 2:15; 4:3; Titus 1:9; 2:1; 2 John 1:9). Eventually, these teachings were written down and collected with the Old Testament to form what we call “Scripture” or “the Bible.” Reading the Bible is how people know who God is and what God wants us to do.

1.       I read (or listen to) the Bible regularly (multiple times a week).                                                                
2.       I think about Bible verses during the day and apply them to daily activities.                                           
3.       I spend time each year reading reputable theological and biblical books.                                             
4.       I have a good knowledge of what Jesus taught and did.                                                                            
5.       I can explain what Jesus taught and did to others.                                                                                      

Heart Disciples practice devotional habits based on our love for God and neighbor.
Jesus commanded loving God and other people (Mk 12:29-31). Jesus was not commanding an emotion; He was commanding a disposition that led to certain behavior. 

Loving God means giving Him unconditional devotion or allegiance, just as Jesus did. To demonstrate their devotion/love toward God, Christians did multiple things, such as denying themselves and completely trusting God (Mk 8:34-38; 10:14-15), praying (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 6:4; 10:2; Rom 8:26; 12:12; 1 Cor 7:5; et al.), listening to and obeying the teaching of the Apostles (see “Mind” above), writing and singing songs to God (1 Cor 14:15, 26; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16), fasting (Matt 6:16-18; Acts 13:2-3; 14:23), celebrating the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20-34); and telling other people about what God has done in Jesus (Mk 1:17; 6:6-12; Acts 15:7; 2 Tim 4:2).

1.       Each day, I decide how I spend my time, where I spend my money, and what type of relationships I have based on my devotion to God.                                                                                                                         
2.       I make significant decisions in life only after diligent prayer and scripture reading.                                    
3.       I trust God right now like I trusted my parents when I was a child.                                                              
4.       I quickly admit, confess, and repent when I sin (i.e., without excusing or blaming).                                    
5.       I am greatly concerned with a virtuous lifestyle that would be considered by God, holy.”                         
6.       I regularly pray to God as a loving Father (Gal 4:6), feeling comfortable, safe, and welcomed
by God, without using “churchy” language during my prayer.                                                                          
7.       I regularly worship God freely and completely.                                                                                                
8.       I regularly practice spiritual disciplines like fasting to help me stay devoted to God.                                 
9.       When the opportunity arises, I willingly talk about the gospel.                                                                      

Loving our neighbor means taking care of our neighbor’s needs (even when they are our enemies, Matt 5:44). To demonstrate their devotion toward other people, Christians did multiple things, such as praying for others (Acts 6:6; 8:15; 9:40; 12:5; Rom 15:30-31; et al.) and supplying the needs of the poor (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34; Rom 15:26; Gal 2:10; 2 Cor 1:11).

1.       I actively seek out ways to help the needs of people around me.                                                             
2.       I regularly pray for others and their needs.                                                                                                  
3.       When something needs to get done, I immediately find a way to help.                                                     
4.       I do not have any sense of entitlement; I do not expect people to serve me.                                            
5.       I actively seek to act favorably toward anyone I meet, especially towards those who are
mean to me, hurt me, or who treat me unfairly.                                                                                            

Body Disciples hold healthy, morally-accountable relationships with other Christians.
Early Christians maintained their discipleship in community. Christian community involves building up each other according to our giftedness (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12; 14:3), showing honor and care toward each other (Rom 12:10); forgiving each other (2 Cor 2:7; Col 3:13), encouraging each other (1 Thess 5:11; Heb 10:24); and holding each other morally accountable (Matt 7:1-6; 18:15-17; James 5:16; Heb 10:25).

1.       I do not attempt to control, gossip about, or demean other people. Instead, I actively
seek to build them up, using my Spirit-driven giftedness.                                                                           
2.       I actively, regularly show honor and care toward others.                                                                           
3.       I am a safe, graceful person: I can be trusted with a person’s failures and brokenness.                            
4.       I am not bitter, nor hold grudges. I actively seek to forgive and be reconciled with others.                       
5.       I do not seek to criticize. I actively, regularly encourage others.                                                                   
6.       I have at least one person to whom I confess my sins and who asks me about my
sin struggles on a regular basis.                                                                                                                     

Plan of Action
To increase my discipleship, I commit to do the following:

[1] Acts 2:42 gives a succinct summary: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching (Mind) and fellowship (Body), to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Heart)” (ESV).