As the Discipleship Ministries Team gears up for the Discipleship Fair (Sunday September 11, 2016) it seemed valuable ot review what the word “discipleship” means in our United Methodist context. To quote the UMC website:
Discipleship focuses on actively following in the footsteps of Jesus. As Christian disciples, we are not passive spectators but energetic participants in God’s activity in the world. Because of what God has done for us, we offer our lives back to God. We order our lives in ways that embody Christ’s ministry in our families, workplaces, communities, and the world.
As United Methodists we seek to use scripture, reason, tradition and experience to transform the world into the kingdom of God described in the Gospels. Our local church’s discipleship ministries team defines discipleship as a lifestyle, a lens through which we view the world and our place within it. As anyone who wears glasses or uses a camera knows, lens need to cleaned, adjusted, and re-focused from time to time. Unless you are a professional photographer or an optamologist, you often need to rely on others in the community to assist you with the tasks of lens maintenance.
An illustrative story
A couple is sitting sipping coffee in the living room one morning while watching the neighbor hang laundry on the line. One says to the other, “His laundry is so dirty! Someone really needs to teach him how to do laundry!” This becomes a daily comment from one spouse to the other whenever they watch their neighbor hanging the laundry. One morning, the commenting spouse comes downstairs and sees the neighbor hanging clean clothes on the line and says, “Finally! Do you suppose someone taught him how to do laundry?” The other spouse replies, “No, dear, I just washed the windows.”
The purpose of discipleship opportunities at First Olympia is to provide our children, youth and adults with an ever growing number of tools, skills and relationships to ground our lives in Christ. To continue the lens analogy, think of discipleship opportunities as an eye-glasses repair kit or lens cleaning cloth. These opportuniteis help us to re-center, re-focus and re-committ to the work that Jesus is calling us to do. That is why we offer many different options from book studies, to classes, to small groups, to opportunities to serve our church, local and global communities, because we recongize that people engage discipleship in a variety of ways.