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We hosted church coach Ken Willard recently on the district for his workshop on Creating an Intentional Discipleship Process for Your Church. We had a great crowd, and I heard many people express their appreciation for his comments on where to get started as a church: Prayer and “Recommitting to Our Mission”.
While it seems so simple, the critical foundation of talking and dreaming about discipleship is “prayer”. Most churches do a good job of lifting up the prayer concerns and sharing individual concerns and joys through a prayer chain. Yet, what could be a next step to expand the prayer life of your church? Here are a few opportunities that come to mind for me:
Take time to pray for the unchurched and de-churched of your community. Listen for the nudges God puts in your heart.
Pray for the people who will arrive as guests to your Sunday worship—that they might be inspired and experience God’s grace through you.
Gather together with your town newspaper, praying about where you read words of hope and joy as well as where you read accounts that break your heart.
Walk or drive through your community, praying for the people in the homes and businesses you pass. Talk about and pray for the things that tug at your heart.
Pray “cosmically”. Expand your prayer believing that the God of all creation—of all time and space—can do all things. What is God wanting to do in your church? In your community? In your life?
Building on prayer, Willard turned to revisiting our common mission as a church, which stems from the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20: Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” We as United Methodists translate this Commission into our local church mission statements: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
At the heart of recommitting to our mission is claiming a personal and a collective answer to “why”:
Why do I need to make disciples of Jesus? Is it because of a Biblical mandate, or is there something else that compels you?
Why do we as a church need to make disciples of Jesus? Out of your personal conviction, what conviction do you share as a church? Without the shared sense of “why”, I see passionate people try to pull the church apart in different directions. Yet, when you have a common sense of “why”, everybody can begin to pull together to affect monumental change in lives and in the world!
I am excited for your church to get better at making disciples—taking a step and growing from where you already are. As we get better at disciple-making, we will see people take a first step or a next step in faith—an awesome display of God at work!
I’d love to hear what church is doing already, and what steps you hope to take around discipleship! Let me know if I can help you take the next step.
And don’t forget to check out the HCI Next Retreat: Deepening Discipleship Pathways event happening in January. Register now as space is limited!