Discipleship Pathway of Grace
Do you long for a deeper experience of God?
People come to the Lord through a number of avenues, but often the search is fueled by some dissatisfaction with the way life is currently going. To quote the Alpha Course, we wonder, “Is there more to life than this?” The response is a definite “Yes!,” but sadly, many seekers of God never experience the transformed life they are longing for because they are not willing to do the work required. Someone once said it well…
“It’s not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting. It’s that it’s been found hard and left mostly untried.”
Don’t let that be true of you, but instead press into discipleship further! The word “disciple” literally means “student, learner or apprentice.” Discipleship, also called spiritual formation, is about learning through practice to live the life that Christ modeled for us. Change always requires effort. Although Jesus said his “yoke is easy,” he also said disciples must “take up your cross daily” in order to follow him. Please don’t let this dissuade you. The gospel is “good news” and promises true life and peace that surpasses understanding. We want you to experience life God’s way.
To help our members live this life, we have developed a Discipleship Pathway. The pathway has arrows implying a starting point at the top left box, titled Worship. Many people begin participating in the church through Sunday worship. However, a person can jump into the pathway at any of the first three boxes.
Worship Sunday in the church and everyday in your home.
To worship with other believers in the Anglican way is to engage in practices that Christians have used for 2,000 years. These practices are intentionally formational and help shape us as disciples. Although we welcome visitors and practice hospitality, our Sunday services are not “seeker services.” Come expecting to meet with God on his terms. We participate in worship, not as consumers but bringing God an offering of praise and thanksgiving. Sunday worship is an opportunity for us to express our love and devotion for him. It’s all about his glory, not just our preferences. The area up front is a platform, not a stage. The people are a congregation, not an audience. Those up front are leading us all in worship, not performers. Liturgy means the “work of the people,” so everyone comes to church in order to participate and contribute to the event. The liturgy is Christ-centered and calls forth appropriate responses of a sinful people coming into the presence of holiness. Having met with God in his house on his day, we are sent out as lights to a dark world. Worship doesn’t end when we leave the building. True discipleship seeks to bring God into every aspect of life. This includes our homes, workplaces, and hobbies. Worship is therefore a 24/7 way of life.
Belong Through a 4-Fold Life Group
The goal of belonging is to know and love one another. In any church with more than a few dozen people, participation in small groups is necessary to feel connected and build relationships with other people who desire to implement the way of Jesus. Our primary groups are called Life Groups and are distinguished by four specific characteristics.
- Care – the Life Group exists to provide mutual care for each other.
- Bible – regular reading of God’s word invites God to speak into these groups.
- Prayer –we interact with God and grow in our prayer life.
- Outward-Oriented – we are always on the lookout for new people to include and equipping people to go live on mission the rest of the week.
The onramp for participation in Life Groups is the Alpha Course, which then leads into Rooted. Alpha is a foundational course that answers a number of questions about Christianity. Rooted is an experience of putting Christianity into practice in your life. Alpha and Rooted are both structured in a way that models healthy small group interaction. Life Groups are naturally formed after the Alpha and Rooted experiences.
Serve the Church, the Community, and the World
Jesus said that he “came not to be served but to serve.” It is therefore fitting that his disciples would do the same. Our service should be directed in three areas. The first place to begin serving is in the church. This helps the ministries of the church thrive and quickly moves us from consumers to producers. It also invigorates our worship experience because we are bringing an offering of our whole person to God and his people. If we stop there, however, the church becomes ingrown and unhealthy. We must always be pushing ourselves outside of the church walls because, as Archbishop William Temple said, “The church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.” The second area that Christians serve is in acts of mercy, especially to those who are marginalized or particularly vulnerable. The third area of service seeks to meet spiritual needs by telling God’s story. These efforts of mercy and evangelism must be done locally and globally.
Make Disciples By Sharing Your Faith and Walking the Pathway With Others
The last box on the bottom left of the pathway is intentionally where the arrows stop. This is not because we ever complete the first three, but because we can arrive at a place of maturity where we begin inviting others into the new life we have found. This doesn’t mean we are now experts or masters of discipleship. A better analogy is that this is “one beggar showing another where to find bread.” The goal for our church is to make disciples who obey Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20). To function in this way means several things are in place. Such disciples can articulate the basic Gospel story with clarity and conviction. They know how to share their own testimony of God’s involvement in their life. They are actively engaging the other three practices on the Pathway. They know what their own spiritual gifts are and can identify a specific ministry assignment God has given them. Walking the Discipleship Pathway will be a life-long pursuit.