These research-validated attributes of growing disciples (from the Transformational Discipleship project) are the kinds of qualities that every group leader wants to instill in his or her group members. The goal of teaching is to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), and here are the ways the research demonstrates people grow in their walk with Christ:
1. Bible Engagement
It should go without saying, but transformation is recognized in a person when their mind is sharpened by Scripture, their perspective is shaped by the Bible, and their actions are directed by the Bible.
2. Obeying God and Denying Self
People who are progressing in their faith are the ones who prioritize God’s desires over their own. Transformation is taking place because these people regularly set aside earthly delights in favor of kingdom priorities.
3. Serving God and Others
The choice to serve is just that—a choice. Transformation is evident when personal needs, and even dreams, are set aside for meeting the needs we see in others.
4. Sharing Christ
Inherent in being a disciple of Christ is the making of other disciples. Transformation is evident in believers as they verbalize their faith and talk with others about the source of it.
5. Exercising Faith
People who took part in the survey recognized the difference between living in one’s own strength, or operating in the power that comes from God alone. These people know the importance of living by faith, and they set aside risk-aversion to live in a posture of trust and faith.
6. Seeking God
Transformation takes place when people have a continuous hunger to follow Jesus. We sometimes call this our “first love.” Transformation takes place as people intentionally follow God, desiring to know Him more deeply and experience His work more fully.
7. Building Relationships
Faith is personal, but it certainly is not intended to be private. As our relationship with God grows, so should our relationship with others.
People following Christ are willing to be public about their faith. The research indicated that growing Christians felt it is appropriate, and often necessary, for others to know them as Christians and to be held accountable for a life lived for Christ.
Is it possible for a group leader to guide his or her group members through study after study, and help them grow in these eight attributes? Is it possible for a group leader to determine a course of study that is logical, well-planned, and crafted with intentionality? Is it possible for Bible studies to connect the Bible to our lives in an intentional way? The answer is “yes.”