even in this time of isolation,
may we find ways to see you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly.
What is Discipleship?
What do you think about this take on discipleship and making disciples?
According to this, without our building and many projects on the go, we are actually being freed up to this again about what the whole of our Christian faith looks like, including being and making disciples.
Watch the video again and take a moment to write in your journal how you might do some of the things suggested here - both now in isolation and in the future when lockdown ends.
Watch the short video.
A Simple Definition of Discipleship
'The New Testament paints a simple portrait of disciple-making. Jesus called people to follow Him. After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, these people devoted themselves, to fellowship, the apostle’s teaching, the breaking of bread, and prayer. They responded to Jesus’ call by calling others to follow Jesus and join their community. As the church grew, it reproduced into small gatherings where believers continued to make disciples who make disciples. This model is also one that we can apply to our lives as we return discipleship to the frontlines of our faith.” (from www.belief.net)
Take a moment to think about the ways in which you have engaged in these three things in the past.
Make a note on what you think discipleship means and how it has been worked out in your life up to now.
Make a note of this in your reflective spiritual journal to encourage you at another time when you need it.
At the moment this is one of the greatest challenges we face to discipleship. Not only can we no longer gather for worship and fellowship in our usual buildings, neither can we meet in small groups in people’s homes (the biblical model for meeting together). This poses some difficulties and is making us re-think how we might meet together. There a few ways we can do this
Joining in online live, streamed worship services
Joining in tele- or video-conferenced small group sessions
Phoning each other
Texting each other
Becoming part of online social media church groups.
All these are possible and we need to do at least one of them to stay connected with other Christians who help us to grow as followers of Jesus.
Take a moment to think about which of these things you are already doing and whether they are helpful to you. Everyone will find some will work better for them than others, it depends entirely on the individual - we are all unique. If there are several you’ve not tried but can (because many depend on an internet connection and technology) choose one to try.
Again, this is something that we have been used to doing mainly in our church buildings, gathered together as the body of Christ in one place. God however, is not limited to time and space as we are. Though you may not have a Priest to consecrate bread and wine for you at this time, there is a sense which this is an outward version of an inward spiritual reality and so we can each have a spiritual communion in our homes whenever we like. The bread and wine become the same as that in an Agape Meal as we remember the Last Supper (for more information on Agape Meals click here) and ask God to be especially close to us in our hearts by His spirit. There are a variety of services being recorded or streamed which we can join in with at the moment and I encourage to find some that are helpful in aiding you in this ‘breaking of bread’ spiritual communion at this time. In the next session on Worship you will find some more resources to help you with this. When lockdown is over, it will not only be a joy to meet together in churches to break the bread of Holy Communion but also to simply share meals with one another in acts of fellowship and hospitality - something we will no longer take for granted but will see as the true times of blessing they really are.
We have already explored how we might maintain our prayer lives in isolation so this final section is on another important aspect of discipleship: study. This time of stepping aside from so many things in our normal, busy lives, is a good time to do some serious study of the bible, the Christian faith and our own personal gifts, callings and ministry. The whole of the Discipleship Training course has been created to enable us to do this and I encourage you to look through the website and consider taking a module or two. It’s a flexible course and at the moment it can be done entirely from home so lockdown is not a barrier.
As a place to start, let’s think about studying the bible for a moment. There are myriad ways of doing this, from simply reading it yourself or in small groups or in church, to reading books about it and doing courses to help you (like Discipleship Training for example!). However, there are also some simple ways of meditating on the bible and I would like to commend to you here the practice of Lectio Divina (divine reading). This is a meditative way of reading the bible that enables us to think more deeply about a passage and how it relates to us in this page at this time - which is perfect for our current situation.
In the Resources Section you will find a document that will guide you through a Lectio session and there is also an audio recording below to talk you through a session. Choose a passage, or use the lectionary to find a passage for today. An online lectionary can be found at here (when you get into the site, click on the ‘View’ tab and it will take you to today’s readings. Hover over the passage references to view the whole passage online). Then listen to the recording, pausing at the end of each point to do what you have been asked to do. Make notes in your reflective journal about what you feel God is saying to you through the passage.
The Apostle’s Teaching: Study
Spotlight on Doctrine
Discipleship is something that is intrinsic to the Christian faith. It enables us to grow and be transformed ‘by the renewing of our minds’ (Romans 12:2). In the creeds we often say the words ‘the communion of saints’, a phrase which bring all of the aspects of discipleship to mind in four simple, but profound words.
Spotlight on Spirituality
For some Christians, silence and stillness, things we can now have an abundance of, are so intrinsic to their faith and discipleship that they even carry these things into worship when they meet together. To find out more about this kind of spiritually click here. How do you feel about accepting, non-judgemental silence and how does it fit into your discipleship?
Take a moment to be still before God. What have has particularly spoken to you in this session? What has comforted you? What has challenged you? Bring it all before God in prayer.
Loving God, you search me and know me.
I bring before you all that I am and all that I will be.
Help me to let go of those things I cannot do and
may all that I can o do bring glory to you
Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer
Something Practical to Do this Week
Take one of the ideas
from the section on fellowship
and one from the section on study
and try them out this week.
Make a note in your reflective journal
about how they went.
Lectio Divina Instructions