Session 4: Discipleship - Essential to Everyday Faith
By the end of this session you should be able to:
see discipleship as a modern day expression of our call to be followers of Christ
Good and Gracious God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, invites us and all people to follow him and become his disciples. Touch our hearts, enlighten our minds, and stir our spirit. Help us daily to take up our cross and follow him; by living his Word and proclaiming his Good News to those around us. May our faith in you increase, may our hunger for the Gospel intensify, and may our parish be strengthened as we learn to love one another as he has loved us. For this we pray, Amen
The word ‘discipleship’ is being used in today’s church to describe the practice of Christian faith. For many the word disciple calls to mind Peter, James, John and the other nine disciples whom Jesus called to be his first followers. The word can, however, be extended to include all Christian people today.
The word disciple comes from the Latin word ‘discipulus,’ which means ‘pupil’ or ‘student.’ As disciples past and present we are called to be learners. Not learners in the sense of acquiring information, but learners who are being transformed.
Stephen Cherry in his book Barefoot Discipleship (2011) talks about disciples being Jesus’ apprentices. Disciples are people who follow Christ, ‘true disciples are those who absorb Jesus’ wisdom by becoming his travelling companions on the way.’ (p13)
Click the button to listen to a podcast from an American Catholic radio show. It’s 18 minutes long, so grab a cuppa and make sure you’re able to listen attentively – and enjoy!
Things to Think About
1. What does discipleship mean to you?
2. What's your initial response to the following statement: Each of us has our own particular personal histories, limitations and failings: How do these stand in relation to our calling? (Richardson, p. 58) Do you agree that Jesus doesn't seek to cover up [our] past...?
3. In what ways do you think ministry is enhanced by being together? Is there an expectation in the church that people will grow in their understanding? How does the church help that to happen?
4. Do you see your 'natural talents and dispositions' (ibid, p. 63) as a gift from God to be used in His ministry or more as a product of your character, upbringing and chance?
5. What does it mean to be 'sent'?
6. How are suffering and sacrifice part of our discipleship?
Note your reflections in your journal.
If you would like to go deeper into this, download and read the pdf file in the Resources box at the bottom of the page.
Spotlight on Doctrine
In our creeds we declare our belief in 'the holy catholic church' and 'the communion of saints'. These are phrases that call to mind discipleship - the Church is made up of those who follow Jesus as is the communion of saints. The latter phrase also includes all those disciples of Christ who now stand with him face to face. Have you ever thought of those phrases in this way? Does this idea make you think differently about those familiar words in our creeds?
Spotlight on Spirituality
Discipleship is lived out myriad different ways by different Christians but prayer is always a big part of that. Take a moment to think about how prayer forms part of your discipleship. What kinds of prayer do you find most helpful? Make a note in your journal.
What has struck you most in this session? How would you tell your own faith story?
Lord help us to believe that we are all ordinary people made extraordinary through your vision and your power.
Take our insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, and give us the courage to see ourselves and others as you see us, with gifts and potential to transform your world and build your Kingdom.
Something Practical To Do
What ways do you find discipleship reflected in your church? Think about everything the church does, not just worship on Sundays. What could your Church's equivalent be to Dr Sri’s wife’s ‘coffee by the bedside’ – finding time for Jesus.
Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the Forum (this post is required for those taking the assessment).