FOCUS ON THE VISION
“As Christian disciples, we are not passive spectators but energetic participants in God's activity in the world.”
The United Methodist Church provides a clear understanding regarding the theology of discipleship that includes God's relationship to the world and the human response to God's activity in the world.
Theology is not just about God. It is also about us. We live out our understanding of who we are in relationship to God, to one another, and to the world. The Christian faith is grounded in the love and grace of God, experienced through Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is our response to God's love and grace.
The church calls our response to God Christian discipleship. 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, workplace, communities, and the world. (Printed umc.org, from “What Every Teacher Needs To Know About Theology,” Discipleship Resources, 2002)
As we approach the last few weeks of this year, I would invite clergy and laity into a time of spiritual reflection regarding your ministry context. This reflection is one way to open communication that leads us back to the primary mission of the church – to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
The Challenge – Where is God at Work?
Take a sheet of paper and list Matthew 28:19-20, known as the Great Commission and the mission of the church – to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – and list the four questions printed below. Invite participants to take the sheet home for one week and pray through each question before deciding on a response.
At the appointed time, invite participants to bring back the responses. Be creative in the way the information flows back to the church community (responses collected or not, testimonies regarding responses in small group settings etc.).
1. Where is God at work in my local church, district, annual conference and global church?
2. Where is God at work in my community?
3. Where have my thoughts, actions, deeds been a response to God's love and grace, God's activity in the world?
4. How do we join God in God's activity in the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ?
It is my prayer this activity will lead to conversations about discipleship in your ministry context. I believe any real effort to address discipleship begins with reflection and appreciation of the places where God is already at work.
Blessings and Peace,
Rev. Denise Walton serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at email@example.com.