ALCOA, Tenn. (Oct. 2, 2018) -- As we grow in Christ, there are five principles that guide our lives and our congregation’s life as disciples of Jesus Christ. These principles of discipleship guide us to become intentional, faith-forming congregations that seek to grow in Christ from cradle to grave.
1. Pilgrimage – Discipleship is a lifelong, spiritual journey from cradle to grave. Our faith is formed through our experiences as an infant and a child; through our relationships and connections into adulthood; through our searching and seeking oftentimes when life is difficult; and through our convictions until we join Christ in the promise of everlasting life. How does your congregation embrace this lifelong, transforming journey and nurture persons to grow in their love of God and others whether they are a child or 100+ years of age?
2. Presence is awakening to God’s loving, guiding, abiding, faithful presence. It is the intentional recognition of God, not only in scripture but in yourself and other persons; at meetings; in your congregation and your community; and even when you might feel that God is absent. As we become more aware to God’s presence in our lives and the life of our congregation, we affirm and live the promise that God is at work in our lives and in the world. How do you and your congregation recognize and affirm God’s active presence?
3. Practices lead us to develop a way of life also known as a “rule of discipleship” where we incorporate spiritual practices into our daily life. John Wesley calls these spiritual practices the means of grace in which we grow deeper in our love of God and others. As we live into these inward and outward spiritual practices, we become active with Christ in our personal lives and within our communities. What spiritual practices help you grow in Christ? Who lovingly nurtures and holds you accountable to grow deeper in your love of God and others?
4. Pathway – Being a faith-forming congregation recognizes that persons are at different places in their faith journey and provides experiences that lead persons to grow as seekers that become committed, professing members to leaders who witness to the love of Jesus Christ in their relationships and in their communities. What is the path or the markers along the spiritual journey that leads your congregation to become one with Christ and one another? How do you look over one another in love so that everyone is growing in Christ and “going onto perfection”?
5. Power – Through the Holy Spirit we are drawn into a deeper relationship with God and the work of Jesus Christ that brings healing and transformation to our relationships, our communities, and to the world. How does your congregation offer healing, restoration, and transformation so that individuals are Christ to each other and to the world? How do you open persons to God’s call and movement in their lives to become one with Christ and to do the work of Christ?
You are invited to join the conversation at the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church Facebook page as we continue to discuss and explore specific, practical ways to live out these five principles of discipleship. I will post questions, ideas, and quotes about these principles. I invite you to add your comments, experiences, questions, and insights.
Let us journey together. Let us live in the promise that God is always with us. Let us grow in Christ and live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Susan Groseclose is associate director of connectional ministries for discipleship, available at email@example.com or 865-690-4080.