What’s the difference between disciple-making and discipleship?
What’s the difference between discipleship and spiritual formation?
This could easily devolve into a semantic argument, but let me explain where I’m coming from.
I believe the purpose of the Church is to make disciples. Individual followers of Jesus are likewise called to be and make disciples.
And, this is a key observation, there is an end point at which this has happened, i.e. a point at which a disciple has been made.
“After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples…” Acts 14.21 (NASB)
Discipleship, the way it is commonly used, carries the sense of an open-ended process. It’s used in parallel to the ideas of spiritual formation, spiritual growth, becoming mature in Christ. It’s applied to a myriad of programs and ministries that may or may not actually make disciples.
Well, if we believe that as long as we’re doing discipleship (individually or as a church) we are also making disciples, there is a risk that even though we are keeping busy, we’re not actually making disciples. We’re just growing, building, maybe equipping disciples. But there is no end in sight, no point at which we can say “we made a disciple!”
And when this is the case, we aren’t fulfilling our purpose of making disciples.
There’s a difference between doing discipleship and making disciples.