Seven is known as the perfect number. Some people even believe it has magical qualities. I’ve been noticing lately how often seven comes up. It really is amazing! Check out this short list of things we number by seven:
1. Seven days in a week.
2. Seven colors in a rainbow
3. Seven years until our cells completely regenerate.
4. Seven seals and churches in Revelation.
5. Seven wonders of the world.
6. Seven swans a swimmin’.
7. Seven continents.
Wow, I can’t believe it! Even this list has seven! Ok, ok, I did that on purpose, but the whole list would have been too much.
If someone asked you to compile a list of seven basics of a disciple’s life, what would you include? Now, I’m not talking about beliefs or doctrines, but practices or disciplines. Take a moment and think about what would be on your list.
When I was an infant disciple, I was introduced to seven basics. As I grew, they helped clarify for me what a disciple practiced. They also prepared me to be a disciple maker.
One of the major obstacles new disciples makers face is not knowing what to do. Given that there are thousands of books focused on what a disciple needs to believe, know, and do, how do we choose where to start, what to include, and what to exclude? Often new disciple makers simply multiply curriculum instead of a more holistic approach to disciple making. The seven basics keep the focus tight enough to manage and yet broad enough to develop depth.
To be honest, I don’t know where this list started. It was passed on to me and I pass it on to others. Since my spiritual lineage includes the likes of Dawson Trotman and LeRoy Eims I’ve learned to trust these tools that have stood the test of time and spiritual generations. Today, I pass them on to those I disciple and continue to refer to them as I seek continued depth and transformation in my own life.
By now you’re dying to know, so here are the seven basics…
1. Assurance of Salvation – This basic is always first because an accurate understanding of our salvation is critical. In fact, walking around without it is like going into battle without a helmet (Eph. 6:17). As a disciple matures assurance of our salvation grows into a deep and abiding understanding of the Gospel. The Gospel reminds me of who I am without Christ, who Christ is, and who He has made (and is making) me to be. Living into these truths protects me from trying to earn His love or from becoming proud. One of my favorite verses is 1 Corinthians 15:10, which proclaims the truth of the Gospel in the disciple’s life.
2. Quiet / Devotional Time – A quiet time is a daily time to connect with God. Since the food of a disciple is to do the will of the Father (John 4:34), taking time to be nourished by praying, reading the Bible, and praying some more is a practice that cannot be ignored.
3. Prayer – At its core prayer is talking and listening to God. Though our modern take on prayer is us talking to God, prayer has been described as getting on our heart what’s on God’s heart. A disciple’s prayer life should be continually growing in depth and breadth.
4. Community – Developing quality relationships with other believers is important because without others around us we run the risk of burning out like a coal separated from a fire. Community is more than attending a church service. The heart of building community is relationally loving and being loved by other believers.
5. Scripture Memory – Committing God’s Word to memory helps every aspect of a disciple’s life. Though the Bible never explicitly commands Scripture memory it both assumes and models the practice. Jesus quoted 84 different OT passages from 72 different chapters. We are told to keep the Word on our lips (Joshua 1:8, Malachi 2:7) and that it’s the way a disciple is equipped (2 Tim. 3:16-17). For most, it’s not an easy practice, but it’s a game-changer.
6. Witnessing – Actively sharing our faith not only helps others know Jesus, it helps us too (Philemon 1:6). When we don’t share with others then we’re a cesspool of information that limits depth in our own life. Additionally, those who aren’t fishing aren’t following.
7. Bible Study – If quiet time is swimming then Bible study is diving. These two disciplines are similar yet vastly different in their depth and focus. The focus of Bible study is to understand the Scriptures in their context. In Bible study, we want to know who the author is writing to, why they are writing, when they are writing, and so on. Bible study helps us grow deep roots in the Scriptures. If we skip Bible study we are in jeopardy of serious misinterpretation, and thus, misapplication of the Scriptures.
The seven basics are not a curriculum, but they do provide a framework. For instance, an infant disciple should go through each basic at a 101 level, but a young adult disciple would go through them at a 301/401 level. A skilled disciple maker is able to distinguish different levels because he has developed depth in his own life. Using prayer as an example, 101 might help a disciple to see that prayer is simply talking and listening to God. However, 401 prayer might help him think about the deep mystery of prayer and how it impacts what actually happens.
Whether you are a disciple or a disciple maker these seven basics can make a huge difference in your development. As you know the basics don’t help if they aren’t practiced. Don’t stop at reading these. Understand them. Practice them. Memorize them. Model them. And pass them on to others!