A close relationship with Jesus – I’m an active disciple

This person is deeply in relationship with Jesus Christ. They speak of Jesus as an active confidante in their everyday lives, depending upon him for guidance and support. They are entering deeper into life with Jesus who, by the Holy Spirit, is bringing to maturity their love for God and their loving service with their neighbours.

At this milepost of Christian formation what is needed to help the active disciple further along their journey?

  1. Help in understanding the Bible better. Moving beyond an overview of Christian beliefs, values and practices that are central to the Christian faith, the active disciple now wants to go deeper into the themes, teachings, and expectations of the Bible. This may take the form of special studies, directed reading, or classes aimed at persons of a similar development. Sunday morning preaching is usually not sufficient to deepen biblical understanding at this milepost.
  2. Help developing relationship with Jesus. As Jesus, via the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, reaches deeper into the life of the active disciple, core issues and habits of the old life often resurface for further work. The challenge to really love God and neighbour starts to impact family decisions, work environment and personal values and habits. The active disciple needs a small group community of ‘fellow-travellers’ to join in this ongoing renovation process.
  3. Church leaders who model and reinforce how to grow. Active disciples want mature Christians to teach and model the alternative worldview and lifestyle that is required of kingdom living. An ongoing small group community focused on developing and holding one another accountable for outward-oriented, missional living in their homes and in their communities is essential for healthy growth.
  4. Challenge to grow and take next steps. Active disciples are looking for opportunities that aid in full discernment, development, and use of their spiritual gifts. Faith sharing with friends and family often requires teaching and training to become a part of everyday life. Some may need a friendly nudge pointing them in the right direction, from mature believers they respect.
  5. Encouragement to take personal responsibility for growth. The active disciple is now taking on leadership roles in Christian ministry and regularly engages in grace-filled service with family, friends and strangers. At this point in their journey, the active disciple is already taking responsibility for their own growth, even as they nurture others, and needs to be encouraged onward in this direction.

You will note that “compelling worship experiences” has dropped off this list of factors. This is not to suggest that active disciples do not need regular worship gatherings as a basic discipline of their Christian lives. Sunday worship, however, may not be a key setting for the next growth steps that we have been talking about.

Forward Development

  • The ability to competently and confidently share one’s faith, and the significance of Christian good news, is fundamental to deepening one’s relationship with God and the world God intends to make right. Unashamed, unfearing, communication of a believer’s core faith is key for forward development of the active disciple.
  • A congregation needs to make opportunities available for expressing other-centredness; lack of opportunities may hinder forward development.
  • At some point there will be a time of challenge to move forward and do deeper inner spiritual work and make greater use of spiritual gifts in grace-filled service.

Key attitudes toward the active disciple
TRAIN intentionally
GIVE RESPONSIBILTY for ministry development

Recommended Resources

Partnership Course [Membership Course]
The Free Methodist Church views all baptized believers as members of the Body of Christ. We also place a value on working together inter-connectedly with those who have a commitment to the values and practices of our particular Christian faith-family.  This study material explores what it means to make a ‘covenant‘ or ‘partnership’ commitment with other leaders of a Free Methodist congregation to work together on a “common playing field.” [FMC developed/tested]

Leadership Guide [PDF] | Handbook [PDF]

Bearing Faithful Witness
If an active disciple has got to this point in their spiritual development without a clear understanding of the why and how of sharing their faith story – this study material is ‘spot on.’ Participants will understand the role of healthy Christian community as the locus of God’s good news taking root in our neighbourhoods; have developed practices that enable relational discernment of seekers; as well as be able to connect their own story of coming to faith in Jesus with the Jesus Story in a manner that communicates good news to friends, family and colleagues. [FMC developed/tested]

The Tangible Kingdom Primer by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay [Amazon.ca]
Everyone is talking about community. Everyone seems to want it, but most struggle to find it. The Tangible Kingdom Primer with two specific purposes. To be a spiritual formation tool to prepare your heart for mission and to be a field guide for starting in mission together. This tool amounts to an 8 week spiritual exercise that forms community around a missional worldview and practices.

Leadership Essentials: Shaping Vision, Multiplying Influence, Defining Character [Amazon.ca]
Twelve sessions deal with habits that foster character, servant attitudes, missional ministry vision, and challenges to leadership integrity. Intended for small group development of persons with leadership capacity. By Greg Ogden.