Sermons, talks, and books on discipleship usually give a basic definition of a disciple as a “learner.” However, I think the New Testament gives us a more thrilling and dynamic definition of a disciple and the cost that follows. Take, for example, the parable of the soils in Matthew 13. How do we know a disciple from a learner? Matthew 13:23 says, “He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” A disciple is, by nature or by definition, a multiplier.
Jesus summons or invites his first disciples to become part of a kingdom movement when he said, “Come follow me.” He later commissioned these followers in Matthew 28:19 by saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Jesus placed the disciple-making process upon those who followed him then and as followers of Jesus today, we, the church, are actively engaged in doing our part in “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Speaking from an education ministry perspective, discipleship is a process of faith formation and spiritual growth. We are in the business of kingdom building through multiplication (mentioned earlier) from “cradle to grave.” So how are we doing here at Hyde Park Community church?
Every infant baptism is the beginning journey, the entry point of discipleship in the church. I’m excited to share that our preschool is not only preparing our children for school, but developing the faith of our “littlest ones” each week through a time of chapel worship and Bible lessons. The children in our Sunday school classes, at an early age, are learning through creative teaching how to pray and to give to missions. Our confirmation teenagers just returned from a retreat last weekend that prepares them to make a public profession of faith and to join the church. Many of our Connect Groups are reading and reflecting upon prayer as a Lenten practice, and others are engaged in the Ultimate Adventure devotional online. Our adult Sunday school classes are all focused on engaging topics and books that are faith-forming. Thursday Edition and our First Friday Night Group have speakers that share their faith stories and experiences. UMW members are active in their circles in spiritual formation and in developing relationships.
As disciples, we are continually on this journey of spiritual development and faith formation. As the church, we do have a mission to “multiply,” not only members, but to make disciples. Our discipleship process is in place. The challenge before us as a church is to become more “intentional and invitational in our discipleship.”
I encourage you to “personally invite” a family member or friend to join us on the journey during Lent and Easter. There are a variety of services or classes offered. Let’s “multiply” the number of people who will worship with us during this holy season. Disciples have a role to play in the work of God’s kingdom. Christ is counting on us to keep his church alive!
Rev. Dave Weaver