The Danger of Treating the Word “Disciple” as a Noun Instead of a Verb

by J Warner Wallace

In my last post, I wrote about why Christian discipleship is critical to Christian survival. While I was typing the article in Microsoft Word, I used the verb, “discipling” several times. Each time I typed it, the program’s spell-check feature underlined it to warn me about an errant term. The vast archive of words stored in the program did not include the verb, “discipling”. I started to wonder if I had misspelled it or created a word in ignorance, so I Googled “discipling” for a definition. Here’s what I found at

Verb (used with object); discipled, discipling.

Archaic. To convert into a disciple.
Obsolete. To teach; train.

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In modern usage, “disciple” appears to be nothing more than a noun; efforts to use the term in our culture as a verb are now deemed “archaic” and “obsolete”. Are these efforts just as archaic and obsolete within the Church? I hope not, but I have to admit, they seem to be. Last year I spoke at 73 events (166 individual talks) in 20 states and on 9 university campuses. I addressed 30,385 people, the majority of whom were church-attending Christians. I typically ask these audiences to tell me why they are Christians, and as I’ve reported here in the past, their answers are not encouraging. Most Christians have still not been exposed to Christian Case Making (apologetics) and aren’t even aware of the evidence supporting their beliefs. They’re accidental Christians. It appears most of the Church is undiscipled (another word unrecognized by spellcheck), at least in terms of their ability to defend what they believe. It’s time for the Church to return to its roots and start using the word “disciple” as a verb once again…


The Danger of Treating the Word “Disciple” as a Noun Instead of a Verb | Cold Case Christianity