Discipleship Outside the Church

Discipleship is a powerful mechanism for developing individuals, and has been a cornerstone for the church and growth for thousands of Christ followers over the centuries. Despite discipleship being a foundational piece for the church, there is variety in what people believe discipleship is. Some view discipleship as catechesis, or what takes place through a local church’s educational process (Maddix & Akkermann, 2013). Others think discipleship is the development of spiritual disciplines such as prayer, scripture reading, and fasting (Maddix & Akkermann, 2013). While others feel as though discipleship is concerned with the process of mentoring others and investing in others while performing compassionate service and missional engagement (Maddix & Akkermann, 2013).

Since discipleship has served the church so well for so many years, it would stand to reason there would be some degree of success if discipleship was used outside of the church. Without the religious foundation and the biblical principles, it would seem as though there is little application to non-Christian organizational development. If the focus of discipleship is the development of adherence to biblical principles, it would be possible to implement discipleship into organizational life.

Scripture is filled with virtues that are powerful and life changing whether someone is a follower of Christ or not. Proverbs itself is filled with virtues that are applicable in modern contexts of organizational life and leadership development (Rios, 2015). Organizational discipleship would be the teaching and development of individuals in the virtues of Christ, revealing in their lives the truth and value found in scripture and statutes of God. For instance, to develop and grow someone in virtues of love, compassion, or patience in an organizational setting would be implementing discipleship without having strong religious overtones.


Maddix, M. A., & Akkermann, J. R. (2013). Missional discipleship: partners in God’s redemptive mission. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City.

Rios, P. (2015). Wife as Entrepreneur: A Business View of Proverbs 31:10-31. Journal of Ethics & Entrepreneurship, 5(2), 71–76.




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