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The DNA Of Discipleship: An Excerpt From "DISCIPLE" By Dr. Allen Jackson

The DNA Of Discipleship: An Excerpt From "DISCIPLE" By Dr. Allen Jackson

What do we mean when we talk about discipleship? Not to sound too cheesy, but it's both a journey and a destination, isn't it? In one sense, we have a picture of what we want our students to be . . . we want them to become disciples (that's the destination). And yet, there is a process. There is a journey they take to become followers of Christ (which is what a disciple is, after all).

In his book, "DISCIPLE: The Ordinary Person's Guide To Discipling Teenagers," Dr. Allen Jackson defines exactly what discipleship is, and among other things, helps youth workers know how to think about the process of leading teenagers closer to Christ.

Part of that process is defining what discipleship is. Dr. Jackson discusses this in chapter 3, The DNA of Discipleship. Below you will find the introduction to the chapter excerpted from the book:
I have been fascinated with genetics since I was in grade school. (True confession: I took as much biology as I could in high school so I could avoid chemistry.) In my lifetime, science has made incredible progress in understanding how fearfully and wonderfully God made us. I am encouraged by the combined efforts of medicine and science as the genetic code is decoded, and horrible genetic diseases are treated.

One of the more significant discoveries is how our genetic blueprint is tied to our deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. As we know, DNA is a molecule containing the genetic instruction code for humans. The familiar double helix design of DNA is widely understood to be responsible for what make us who we are, at least from a genetic standpoint.

In many conversations today, we hear something like this: “Well that’s just part of our DNA,” or “The way we do things is in our DNA.” We use phrases like these to describe the core infrastructure of an organization, a program, or even a church (“our worship style is just our DNA”). Since the term is already in use to describe values at the core of a thought or organization, I feel relatively comfortable trying to identify the strands of DNA for the process we call discipleship.

By way of introduction, I believe the five “strands,” or core aspects of discipleship, are as follows:

  • Knowing God’s Word (Scripture Memory)

  • Knowing God’s Story (Understanding the story, or meta-narrative, of the Bible)

  • Telling Our Story (articulating a “testimony”)

  • Sharing The Gospel With Words (evangelism)

  • Sharing The Gospel With Deeds (Gospel-centered social justice/compassion)

The remainder of this chapter will explore each strand. My hope is that by breaking down the task of discipleship into the desired outcomes, we can reduce the intimidation factor and get to work. You will notice that for each of these strands, I talk about what a specific strand means for you, the disciplemaker, and for your students, the disciples. Some youth workers are guilty of looking for a plan to lead their students closer to Christ while ignoring their own spiritual journey. As I said earlier in the book, you can’t lead someone to a place you haven’t been. While we can never discount the work of the Holy Spirit in making us like Christ, if we’re not disciples ourselves, our disciplemaking efforts will be severely inhibited.
Now, let’s dig in.

If you're interest is piqued, you can purchase the book by CLICKING HERE. (We also offer a nice bulk discount if you want to buy copies for your adult volunteers.)

If you have any questions about DISCIPLE, give us a call (888.969.6360), email us at, or live chat us by clicking the link at the top of the page.

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