The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

The 7 Marks of a Complete Christian

Posted on: June 23, 2015

BND Blog #8 7 Check Marks


Shortly after graduating from seminary, I was teaching at a Christian college in Arizona. I had the opportunity to lead a young man to Christ, and when he finished praying, he looked up at me in transparent innocence and asked, “Now what?”

That question rocked my world.

They say that when you have a close brush with death, your whole past flashes in front of you. In this case, my whole future flashed in front of me, because I didn’t know the answer to that question. And since I was in the ministry, my future success depended on knowing the answer.

Oh, of course, I knew bits of the answer. I knew to tell him to read his Bible and pray and go to church. But instinctively, I knew that that was inadequate. I had not been a Christian all that long myself, and my own struggles with getting started in the Christian life were fresh in my memory. I had latched onto the older gentleman who led me to Christ and spent the next four years, while I was in college, just hanging around him. And though he never formally discipled me, just being in relationship with him made a life-changing impact on me.

But for various reasons, that was not going to be an option in this case. He was a friend of a student at the college, just passing through, and I was not likely to see him again. I gave him some general suggestions – all of which were good – but which I knew were insufficient. I felt as though I were throwing him to the wolves.

What I wanted was to be able to say, “Well, here is where you are. There is where you want to be. And these are the X number of steps you take to get from here to there.”

But I couldn’t. So, I devoted my life to trying to figure out the answer, and committed my doctoral studies to pursuing the solution. Over the course of the next number of years, I became convinced that there were three fundamental marks of a complete Christian:

  1. A complete Christian worships God
  2. A complete Christian grows spiritually
  3. A complete Christian impacts his world

And while I still believe that is true, I came to realize that those three marks were so super-condensed that it was helpful to, like a pull-down menu, expand each one. Doing so creates The 7 Marks of a Complete Christian.

  1. A complete Christian worships God individually
  2. A complete Christian worships God corporately
  1. A complete Christian grows in biblical knowledge
  2. A complete Christian grows in Christlike lifestyle
  3. A complete Christian grows in ministry skill
  1. A complete Christian impacts the church
  2. A complete Christian impacts the world

Notice that numbers 3-5 reflect the Know-Be-Do triad that we looked at last week, which are fundamental to growing in the Christian life, but are not the only three things we need to focus on.

Understanding this is a guiding beacon for disciplers. If we don’t realize there are seven marks, we are almost certain to leave out or neglect some of them, based on our own strengths, weaknesses, experiences and gifts. By keeping all 7 Marks of a Complete Christian on our spiritual radar screen simultaneously, we can have a complete ministry in the lives of others.


I go into The 7 Marks of a Complete Christian in greater depth in my latest book, Brave New Discipleship.

This is a new blog and I am hoping to expand my readership. If you know someone you think may find this blog valuable, please forward it to them. I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at I will not be able to answer all emails, but I will answer some, and I may address in future blogs the questions/issues you raise. And, follow me on