Making discipleship tangible

Posted: November 8, 2013 by efenster in Ideas
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Christ's bodyEvery United Methodist Church’s mission (similar to other denominations) is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Yet, few churches really have an intentional plan to help people grow as Christ’s disciples.

Michael Frost in his book, Exiles, shares a simple discipling process using the acronym BELLS.

BLESSING – The Hebrew for ‘blessing’ (barak) means “to empower to strength”. We seek God’s blessing and pass that blessing on to others.

EATING – Sharing food has always been central to a shared life of community. We want to place worship and communion back where it began: as a providore’s delight in the middle of the shared table.

LISTENING – We believe that God is capable of speaking to us. We do not confine him to any particular medium, but we try to be attentive to his voice, wherever and whenever it speaks.

LEARN – We desire to take on the image of God and to participate in his plan. We seek out knowledge about God to help us to do this.

SENT – We are ambassadors who bear God’s image in the world. We remind ourselves regularly that we are sent to participate in God’s activity in the world.

Alan Hirsch shared at event last month that some churches have taken this acronym and quantified it into actions that churches encourage each of their members to take.  For example,

BLESSING – Each household is to intentionally bless three people each week–someone from their church, someone who’s a non-Christian, and a third person (like a neighbor).

EATING – Each household is to invite three people (or families) into their home for a meal each week.  Again, one should be from their church, a second a non-Christian, and then a third person (or family).

LISTENING – Each person spends a total of an hour each week simply listening to God–not speaking, not journaling, but just listening silently.  This could mean doing this 10 minutes five different days, 15 minutes four different days, etc.

LEARN – Each person reads every week from the Gospels, another book of the Bible, and some other book, magazine, blog, article, etc. (that are wholesome!), for the purpose of learning.

SENT – Each person ends every day with 20 minutes reflecting on how they resisted Jesus during that day and how they worked with Jesus that day.

Because such actions are clear and concrete it is more likely a church can foster deeper discipleship within their constituency, especially if they provide each person with accountability through a small group where they’re asked how they did  on a regular basis.

So, what does your church do?

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development


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