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. The Journey of Discipleship is our plan for discipleship making.
Before describing the Journey of Discipleship, it is important to define what a disciple is. While different churches may have different 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, a six week study that examines what a life connected to God and connected to others is all about. Because we believe this study provides essential tools for the journey, we will offer it three times a year: January, April, and September.
Although we believe that all journeys need a place to start, we also know that everyone travels at different paces, bringing with them different gifts and strengths. As a result, we have a variety of options for people after they complete A Disciple’s Path: walking, hiking, and climbing.
The walking options are typically lower commitment studies designed for people who are still in the earlier stages of their faith journey. These studies tend to focus on one of three areas: knowing God, loving God, and serving God. Knowing God studies include Bible studies and other studies with an emphasis on head knowledge. Loving God studies emphasize personal spiritual formation and transformation. Serving God studies guide us in the ways that our faith leads to the transformation of the world.
The hiking stage predominantly focuses on studies that help people discern and use their spiritual gifts in service to the church and to the world. While these studies are still only 6-8 weeks, they have higher expectations of commitment and action.
Climbing studies include all Disciple Bible study classes, Christian Believer, and other long-term Bible studies (minimum of 30 weeks). These studies go far more in-depth in Scripture and theology, requiring significant commitment, but also facilitating notable growth and transformation.
After leaving the trail head, it is not necessary to walk, before hiking, and hike before climbing. Everyone moves at their own pace, and thus we hope that everyone can continue their discipleship journey at a pace that is comfortable for them. The goal of this journey is for everyone to be connected in a small group, or other smaller community. Spiritual growth requires personal discipline and participation in corporate worship, but also the relationships and accountability of a community. We hope that through our Journey of Discipleship you may gain tools for personal growth and connections for accountability and community.
Please contact Pastor Laura-Allen Kerlin with any questions or for additional information.