Believers need strong enough and intimate enough relationships in our church body to fulfill many of the Lord’s instructions that would be challenging to fulfill if we only met once a week in a large gathering (for instance James 5:16 confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed). Like many others, our church has small group gatherings in a variety of formats- mixed cell groups, ethnic groups, women’s bible studies, age-specific groups etc. We desire ALL of our members to be involved in one of these groups to foster the kind of one-anothering the bible instructs. We believe that this is a regular means of ongoing discipleship and is the “base” of our discipleship path. In other words, this is where we want all our members once they have been established and gone through the discipleship path.
0) Our discipleship path ‘starts’ with the Christianity Explored DVD studies. Once or twice a year we offer these 10-week courses for unbelievers and new believers. They are focused around understanding who Jesus is, why he came and what is required of those who want to follow him. It is also an excellent resource for explaining grace. We call this step 0 because people don’t even need to be believers to take part.
1) The first ‘real’ step on our discipleship path is the first of two bible study booklets from Matthias Media- Just for Starters. It contains 7 relatively short studies that focus on establishing the believer in understanding the basics of saving faith (ch 1-3) and spiritual disciplines in Christian life (ch 4-7). Although these booklets can be used in small groups, they are best used in one-on-one discipling relationships with more mature believers. These one-on-one relationship will encourage gospel-centered relationships and provide an ongoing connection for prayer, questions, confession etc.
How do you know whether this is the next step for you?
- You have never been discipled in the basics of the Christian faith
- You can’t explain the gospel or grace clearly
- You have never been firmly established in the spiritual disciplines of daily bible study and prayer
- You have few strong Christian connections and want to be mentored by a more mature believer
- You have recently been baptized and/or taken our membership class
- You don’t attend regular cell groups and Bible studies because you find it ‘over your head’
2) The second step is the second booklet called Christian Living for Starters. Those who have completed this first booklet will go on to the second, choosing a different person to help them study.
3) As previously mentioned, our small groups are the next step and the established believer should be ready not only to learn, but perhaps more importantly, participate (teaching and admonishing one another- Col 3:16) in the group- in prayer, in scriptural insights, etc.
4) Leadership- it is part of our long-term mission to develop leaders. Although some of this happens informally or unintentionally (through healthy means of growth and discipleship in all the areas already mentioned) we are slowly developing a plan for intentional leadership training. Currently, we ask our ministry leaders to take at least one course or seminar per year in order to further their walk with the Lord and/or their ministry skills. For more information, speak to Pastor Paul.
Other in addition to these (likely between steps 0 and 1) we offer Baptism and Membership classes. Each have three units and must be completed together with an Elder.