Discipleship Interview: Dan Crawford

Discipleship Interview

Dan Crawford, Senior Professor of Evangelism & Missions; Chair of Prayer Emeritus


Dan, how would you define discipleship?

A disciple is one who is learning to be a proponent of another person or teaching. Thus, when one becomes a Christian disciple/convert/believer, he or she begins a process of becoming like Jesus. This process is called discipleship. It begins with conversion, and continues with spiritual growth toward Christ-likeness.

Think of three phases: The first we call pre-evangelism, cultivation, building relationships, etc.  The second, we call evangelism, witnessing, sharing, etc. The third we call discipleship, nurture, spiritual growth, etc.  The umbrella that covers all three of these phases is called “making disciples.” We are called to “make disciples.”  Discipleship is a part of our calling/commission.

What is more important, what a disciple believes or their lifestyle?

These are two sides of the same coin, or perhaps I should say, two parallel lines that support each other. Belief must be supported by consistent lifestyle and lifestyle must be based on correct belief.

What are the unique challenges of discipling students?

By nature of their place in life, students are learners.  This is both a positive and a negative for a teacher.  Students are being confronted by various facts, theories, opinions, etc. The challenge of a discipler is to make Christ-likeness so appealing as to continually attract the student until the student commits themselves to becoming Christ-like.

Say something about:

· Discipleship and worship ...

Worship is the stack pole around which everything in the disciples’ life rests.  Without proper worship of God in Christ, there is no correct discipleship.

· Discipleship and fellowship ...

There is no such thing as “Lone Ranger” discipleship. We were made for fellowship with each other.  As iron sharpens iron, one disciple aids in the growth and maturity of another disciple.

· Discipleship and leadership ...

One of the goals of discipleship is to develop mature spiritual leaders. While faithful followers are always needed, someone has to step to the front and lead.  That “someone” is the mature (or perhaps the maturing) disciple.

· Discipleship and stewardship ...

Faith is a channel, not a reservoir.  We are born to give birth, re-born to give new birth.  We are made disciples so we can make disciples.  It’s all about giving, about being a good steward of what has been given to us.

· Discipleship and citizenship (responsibility to witness & missions) ...

We’re are citizens/members of a global family, all created in God’s image.  It is the responsibility and privilege of the believer, the one whose image is becoming Christ-like, to bear witness of the Good News to non-believers, with the goal in mind of making them disciples also. Our mission extends from ourselves to the ends of the earth.

What scripture best communicates your perspective of discipleship?

I Timothy 4:7 – “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” The Greek word is “gymnasia”.  The word is variously translated, “exercise,” “discipline,” or “train” and from this word we derive the word, “Gymnasium” – a place where physical fitness takes place.  Discipleship happens as I discipline myself toward spiritual fitness, and seek to aid others along their way to the same.

Sounds like something from the introduction of one of your books.  What is the title to that book?

DiscipleShape: Twelve Weeks to Spiritual Fitness


Dr. Dan R. Crawford

Senior Professor of Evangelism & Missions; Chair of Prayer Emeritus

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 

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