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Approach to

A brief history

Relational: first century.

Experiential: third century through middle
Academic: Enlightenment, Reformation
Individual and Personal: (19th and 20th)
Incarnational: (20th and 21st)

Robert E. Webber
Although the NT does not set forth a
systematic and linear sequence of stages in
Christian formation in any great detail we
do however catch snapshots here and there
we see hints of early practices. Acts 2
contains several of these. Most obvious is
the conversion process in Repent and be
baptized, everyone of you, in the name of
Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your
sins. And you shall receive the gift of the
Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

The Following Elements of a

Process Emerge from Acts

Hearing the Gospel

Instruction to flee the corrupt world
Reception of the Gospel
Repentance Baptism (a passage rite)
Reception of the Holy Spirit

Phillip Carrington, bishop of Quebec

Found a pattern in Ephesians, Colossians,
James, 1 Peter that stressed four points for
all new Christians to observe
1. Wherefore putting off evil
2. Submit yourselves
3. Watch and pray
4. Resist the Devil

Another example of sequential and

holistic discipleship
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain
where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they
worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to
them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has
been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with
you always, to the very end of the age."
--Matthew 28

A picture of what discipleship looks


These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the

brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. 43And
everyone was filled with awe; the apostles worked many signs and
miracles. 44And all who shared the faith owned everything in common;
45they sold their goods and possessions and distributed the proceeds
among themselves according to what each one needed. 46Each day, with
one heart, they regularly went to the Temple but met in their houses for
the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously;
47they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the
Lord added to their community those destined to be saved. Acts 2
(New Jerusalem Bible)

Believe . . . Behave . . . Belong

As I see it, in Christianitys early centuries
conversion involved changes in belief,
belonging, and behavior in the context of
the experience of God. --Alan Kreider
See Justin (AD 130)
Justins Writings reveal a cycle of believing,
belonging and behaving that exhibits the
making of disciples in the second century

Hyppolytus (3rd Century)

The Process
Stage 1the seeker
The rite of welcome
Stage 2the hearer
The rite of enrollment
Stage 3the kneeler
The rite of baptism
Stage 4the faithful

The Result
Christian Inquiry
Commitment to baptism
Spiritual formation
Full membership
Active participation

The Making of a Disciple

Biblical understanding
of Disciple
Ancient Process

All converts to Jesus are
disciples, discipleship not

The Dissolution . . .
Conversion of Constantine was more a
statement on how to conquer others than on
how to be conquered by Christ . . .
By legitimizing the church, there was a
shift from the countercultural model of the
previous centuries to one that had a new
place in society.

The Dissolution . . .
Infant Baptism. Because Society was
Christianized baptism shifted from adult to
infant, and the process of Christian
formation shifted now had to occur after
See Agustine who was received into the church
as an infant but later had to experience
conversion and discipleship

The Dissolution . . .
Medieval Christendom. Baptismal Regeneration.
Discipleship in the Medieval era became sacramental and
Infants baptizedwhich forgave original sin and gave the infant
the Holy Spirit
At seven a first confession was made for the childs first
First communion
The child was confirmedit was thought that confirmation
provided an increase in the Holy Spirit . . .
When the child/adult sinned the sacrament of penance was now
available to restore . . .
Eucharist provided right relationship with God.
Sacrament of unction, provided at the deathbed was the final
sacrament for salvation

The Reformation Era

Catechetical Innovation.
Luther introduced the catechism
instruct because of the invention of
print. Its purpose, It is necessary to
make the pupils and the people to learn
by heart the formulas chosen to be
included in the catechism, without
changing a single syllable. As for those
who refuse to learn tell them they are
denying Christ.

The Reformation Era

Catechetical Innovation.
Its positive features: taught the
Christian Faith. And its negative aspect:
children became subject to intellectual
The negative impact of the catechism
has reverberated down through the
history in the Protestant tradition. The
spirituality of the medieval mystics was
now supplanted by intellectual

Discipleship Among Reformers

The Sacraments
Stage 1Infant baptism

The Result

Stage 2Catechism

Teaching the faith

Stage 3Confirmation

Affirmation of commitment

Stage 4Eucharist

Rite of nourishment

The Anabaptists Era

Sought to recover the first three centuries
And in turn cut a path into the free church
tradition (as opposed to state church).
Step 1adult baptism
Evangelism out of choice
Step 2Discipleship
Life in the Christian
Community under the discipline of the church.

The Enlightenment: shift to reason

and experience
Enlightenment: supremacy of reason and separation of
all aspects of life into distinct disciplines.
Enlightenment: revolution against mind-oriented
Christianity initiated by heart-oriented pietisms of the
17th century (John Wesley, Evangelical Awakenings in
England and America)

Discipleship Compared in Protestantism

Reformation: Gods grace
God gives salvation as gift
Man embraces this gift through
faith expressed in baptism
The Christian thankfully lives out
salvation in a life of holiness and
works of mercy

Evangelical: human faith

A person experienced the new birth
the feeling of forgiveness,
assurance of salvation in the
The Christian consciously dies to
sin and chooses to be
resurrected to the new life

Wesleys Model bears close resemblance to

the 3rd century model
Step 1 Preachingentire
Step 2 Societiespastoral
care classes
Step 3 Society bands
smaller groups for

repentance and faith
Embodying the way of
Pursuit of Christian

The rise of a secular and pagan society, the

emergence of the New Age Movement of
spirituality, postmodern pluralism and
relativism have created a new cultural
situation in which the church speaks the

The international Consultation on
Discipleship: current models of evangelism
do not make disciples.

Dissolution of the Ancient Process

(AD 311)
Medieval Christendom
Luther and Calvin
The Anabaptists
The Enlightenment
Wesleyan Evangelism (17501900)
20th Century Evangelicalism
21st Century Evangelism

Translating the ancient process for today