The mission statement for the United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. At Advent we like to say "Our Mission is Fishing." However, fishing only forms the first part of our mission, because once we bring people in, we need to have a plan for making disciples.
Early in 2013, Church Council named the creation of a discipleship path as one of the 5 WINs (What's Important Now). In response to this need,our spiritual formation committee has been working diligently to create a discipleship journey. I am excited to announce that our plan, our Journey of Discipleship, is already underway, and will kick off church wide during Lent.
First, we need to define what a disciple is. While different churches may have varying definitions, we define a disciple as one whose life is centering on loving God, loving others, and serving in Christ’s name. This definition speaks to the continual nature of being a disciple. As followers of Jesus we are continually being transformed and shaped by the grace of God, meaning that as a disciple we are always actively “centering” ourselves on loving God, loving others, and serving.
Whether you have only recently started coming to church, or have been a disciple for a long time, there is always room to grow. Essential to every journey is a trail head, or a place to start. While the journey of discipleship may begin in a variety of places, in worship, a Sunday school class or small group, doing mission work, we recommend that everyone participate in A Disciple’s Path, which is a six week study that examines what a life connected to God and connected to one another is all about.
Currently all of our staff and some members of church council are doing this study as a precursor to the church wide initiative beginning in Lent. Our staff, church council, and the spiritual formation committee hope that everyone at Advent participates in this study during Lent. Most of our Sunday School classes and small groups will be doing this study during Lent, but we are also wanting to form new small groups for this study. As we continue to live out our mission of fishing, it is essential that as a church we have a strong understanding of what a disciple is and how to live that out, both for our own continued formation, and as we seek to make new disciples.
The trail head, and A Disciple’s Path study acts as a place to start, or for some of you, continue your journey of discipleship. It examines some of the essential elements of discipleship: prayer and meditation, study and reflection on Scripture, financial generosity, invitational evangelism, worship, small group community and gifts-based service. However, part of what is really exciting about the journey of discipleship plan is that there are next steps after leaving the trail head. Spiritual growth in one area of discipleship does not necessarily mean growth in another area, thus our journey of discipleship plan seeks to offer a variety of opportunities for growth in different areas.
There will be more information available in the coming weeks about the journey of discipleship, but for now I want you to seriously and prayerfully consider joining us at the trail head in the beginning of Lent as we all gain a new and deeper understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. If you are already in a Sunday School class or small group but have been lagging in attendance, now is the time to get back involved. If you are not currently in a small group or Sunday School class, this is the perfect time to join one, for we will be forming new groups. You can sign up using the form to the right.
I look forward to continuing on this journey with all of you.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Laura-Allen Kerlin