A few months ago Pastor Joel asked me to help coordinate a discipleship program at FUMC. After wondering, “Why would anyone ask me to do something that sounds important?” I went home and prayed about the proposal. Well, evidently the Lord answered my prayers quickly because the next thing I remember is Pastor Joel calling and congratulating me on getting the job!
With great excitement I rushed to tell everyone about my new position as “Adult Discipleship Coordinator” (ADC for you military acronym types). My enthusiasm quickly diminished however. Common reactions consisted of a polite, “That’s nice,” and a quick change of subject. (Similar to when I recite the praises of the lunar calendar to my Sunday school class.) The blank stares prompted a deep and intensive soul search. Specifically, “What exactly is discipleship and how do I coordinate it?” Despite attending church my entire life and completing several discipleship classes, I didn’t have a satisfactory answer. Jesus commands his believers “To go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28: 18-20). So then, what does being a disciple of our Lord entail?
Unable to contact the original twelve, I consulted the omnipresent source of all wisdom- Google!!! (Just kidding of course…) I found a comprehensive synopsis of discipleship from the Methodist Church of Britain, which should apply to us Yanks too. (www.methodist.org.uk) Here are the main points:
1. Discipleship is a response to a call, the call to follow Jesus. Like Matthew at the tax booth, or Peter at his fishing nets.
2. The response is enabled by God’s own Spirit, who whispers the call into the hearts of all and gives those who respond the power to do so.
3. Discipleship rests on grace, on the gift of God who “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
4. Since it is God who calls us, discipleship embraces all our lives. There is nothing that we do, and no part of who we are, that is beyond the call of Jesus. God stakes a claim over every part of our lives.
5. Discipleship is also a life-long process. We are never ‘done’ with discipleship, as it involves the ongoing formation of our lives into being like Jesus.
6. Discipleship is a journey with others. Although discipleship is a personal call, “For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)
Wow! Far greater than an abstract religious concept, discipleship defines our entire spiritual walk with Jesus.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I certainly have a long way to go. Borrowing a quote from Pastor Don as he cited two great purveyors of wisdom, the Blues Brothers, “We are all on a mission from God”. So I invite everyone to participate in Bible study focused upon becoming disciples of Jesus. Studies are open to all adult seekers, no cost or experience necessary. The first four week series starts on September 13, at 6:30 – 8:00 PM at our church, titled “Matriarchs and Patriarchs of Genesis: How God reveals his promise through His ‘imperfect’ family.” Hope to see you there! Sign up online
By Dave Roberts (Adult Discipleship Coordinator)