What Are the Eight Signposts of Discipleship?

LifeWay Research discovered that eight signposts are consistently present in the lives of believers who are progressing in their spiritual maturity.

Group Photo

Bible study leaders want to do more than simply teach the Bible. We lead our groups because we want to see people transformed by the truths of God’s Word. We want those in our groups to grow in their faith and walk with Christ.

Bible study leaders want to do more than simply teach the Bible. We lead our groups because we want to see people transformed by the truths of God’s Word. We want those in our groups to grow in their faith and walk with Christ.

But how do we know if we’re accomplishing that? Is there a way we can measure if people are actually being discipled and are growing in Christ?

LifeWay Research looked into this. So while there is not a standardized test we can take that tells us how much we’ve been discipled—Congratulations! You’ve completed 80% of your discipleship. You’re almost there!—LifeWay Research discovered that eight signposts are consistently present in the lives of believers who are progressing in their spiritual maturity. 

The eight signposts of discipleship are:

1. Bible Engagement: Transformation can be recognized when our mind is sharpened by the Bible, our perspective is shaped by the Bible, and our actions are directed by the Bible.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work," (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

2. Obeying God and Denying Self: Discipleship is the process of obedience to one who is in authority over you. Transformation can be seen when we progressively set aside earthly delights for kingdom priorities.

"If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me," (Luke 9:23).

3. Serving God and Others: Transformation is evident when personal needs and even dreams are set aside for the needs we see in others.

"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me," (Matt. 25:40).

4. Sharing Christ:  Even with the need to live out the effects of the gospel, maturing believers know that speaking about the message is a necessity. Transformation is evident when we talk about the source of it.

"Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you," (1 Pet. 3:15).

5. Exercising Faith: Transformation is seen in believers when risk-aversion is set aside and our lives are characterized by faithful obedience to God's will.

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me," (Gal. 2:20).

6. Seeking God: Transformation is seen when our desire is to know God more deeply and experience His work more fully.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you," (Matt. 6:33).

7. Building Relationships: Our faith is personal but it is not intended to be private. Our horizontal relationships should develop just as our vertical relationship with God does. Transformation is occurring when relational maturity is evident in our lives.

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers," (Acts 2:42).

8. Unashamed: Transformation is evident when a believer is unashamed in presenting their own life as being aligned with Christ.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek," (Rom. 1:16).

The old adage is that if you aim at nothing then you will hit it every time. At the very heart of Christianity is the work of making disciples for Christ. It should never sit on the fringe of our life or the church. Through working on these signposts, we are able to better recognize when we are effectively reaching toward that goal.

Develop these Signposts of Discipleship with Bible Studies for Life

Bible Studies for Life has built its discipleship plan around these eight signposts of discipleship. Each year, Bible Studies for Life includes eight six-week studies, and each of these studies hones in on one of the eight signposts. By regularly engaging these studies, groups experience an intentional plan for discipleship.

Lynn Pryor is the publishing team leader for Bible Studies for Life. He is serving a Nashville church as their transitional interim pastor. Lynn and his wife, Mary, have survived raising two sons to adulthood. A graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Lynn has previously pastored and served churches in Texas. Read more from his blog at lynnhpryor.com. Follow him @lynnpryor.