First News

What is Christian Discipleship and How Does It Happen?

Discipleship may be described as a lifelong movement towards Jesus. It involves both growing to know Jesus more, and being transformed into his likeness. 

In the gospels, Jesus often uses agricultural imagery to describe the growth of the kingdom of God: we read parables of the seed being scattered, taking root and growing to bear fruit. The growth of the kingdom is the work of God in our lives, and yet God's work also calls for a response--it calls for our participation.

So then, how do we participate in this growth? 

Like Jesus' first followers, we learn and grow not only through what we hear but also through the rhythms of our lives and by spending time with Jesus and with other Christians. All of this is done in partnership with the Holy Spirit. 

This movement and transformation do not happen overnight! It is a process of growth. Using Jesus' agricultural language, we might describe the growth of an individual disciple in this way: 

Plant: The initial seed of the gospel is planted in our lives and we accept it. We develop an understanding of our new identity in Christ.

Root: This is the image of being rooted in Christ. We grow in our knowledge of God's love for us. Issues of Lordship are worked out as we ask ourselves if we are willing to place all areas of our lives under Christ's rule.

Grow: We continue to mature as disciples of Jesus. We establish rhythms and patterns in our lives that foster growth: rhythms of worship, confession, Scripture study, prayer, sabbath, etc.

Fruit: Being disciples of Jesus means that we live as citizens of God's Kingdom in our world. It involves telling others about the good news of the kingdom, loving our neighbours as ourselves, seeking justice and showing mercy. It means living as salt and light in the city of Vancouver.

The Discipleship Pathway

Recognizing that as a community we are to support each other in this growth process, FBC has created this Discipleship Pathway as a framework to explain how we seek to foster discipleship at FBC and how you can participate.  The headings - Join God's People, Know God's Story, Walk in God's Ways, and Participate in God's mission - describe how at FBC we seek to support our planting, rooting, growing and bearing fruit in Christ. Over the next year, we will be highlighting each of these stages in more depth, and you will notice that these icons will begin to be used to categorize activities and programs at FBC. Let's unpack each stage a bit: 

1) Join God's People This corresponds to the Plant stage of growth.
We cannot grow as disciples of Jesus in isolation, but only in the context of the church family, alongside others who will encourage us. 

Some ways to join our community: Join a Connection Group, attend Starting Point, join the Baptism and Membership Classes, Internationals, Youth Group and Preteens, etc.  

2) Know God's Story (and Know Our Story)

This corresponds to the Root stage of growth.

Know God's Story: It is important to understand the larger narrative of Scripture, what the message of the gospel is and what this means for us today. Who is Jesus and why does he matter? How can we know him? How does God call us to live? 

Know Our Story: Along with this, it is important to know ourselves.  Where are the places in our past that need healing? Where do we need to forgive others? Where have we seen God in our stories? What do we discern God calling us to individually and corporately? 

Places at FBC to learn and grow in these ways: Sunday Sermon and Connection Group studies, Foundations Classes for new believers (coming soon), Growth Classes, Alpha, etc.  

3) Walk in God's Ways This corresponds to the Grow stage of growth. We are all are shaped by our life rhythms.  Spiritual Practices are rhythms that the people of God have found helpful throughout the history of the church. These include both corporate practices as well as individual practices.  Spiritual Practices are not rules that we need to follow in order to be Christians. Instead, like the training practices that we might put in place when preparing to run a marathon, these are wise habits that will help to sustain us in our relationship with Jesus and to equip us for continued growth as disciples throughout our lives. 

Corporate practices include: Sunday worship, Confession, Studying Scripture together, Serving together

Individual practices include: Scripture study, Personal times of prayer, Solitude, Simplicity, Sabbath

Places that these will happen within our community: Sunday morning services, Connection Groups, Growth Classes, etc. 

4) Participate in God's MissionThis corresponds to the Fruit stage of growth. Participating in God's mission means being part of his ongoing work in our world and partnering with the mysterious growth of the Kingdom that God is already bringing about. It means telling others about Jesus, loving our neighbours as ourselves and caring for those in need.

Some ways that we are seeking to do this as a community at FBC: Shelter Ministry, Care Friends, Serving with your Connection Group, Alpha, Youth Missions trips, etc. Eugene Peterson in his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction describes growth as a disciple as an apprenticeship. He writes that we "...are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the worksite of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith."It is our prayer that as you apprentice with Jesus--participating with God's people, in His story, by His rhythms, for His mission--you would plant, root, grow and fruit--so that you might participate in His kingdom and its good news

Warmly, 
Rebecca Thornber
Minister of Discipleship & Community

Being a Witness

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What does it look like for you to be a witness today? How do you see God at work in the lives of those around you?

In the book I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught us about their Path to Jesus by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp, the authors highlight that someone coming to faith in Jesus is mainly a work of God. In this way, although we are called to tell others about Jesus, how it actually happens is also a mystery. They give the example of the parable of the growing seed in Mark 4:26-27: "...This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how." We partner with God in His work, but it is Him who brings life. 

At the same time, through conversations with numerous people who have come to faith, there seem be patterns of how this often occurs today. Everts and Schaupp describe what they call five 'thresholds' that people pass through over time when coming to Jesus. 

These are: 

  1. From distrust to trust (learning to trust a Christian)

  2. From complacent to curious

  3. From being closed to change to open to change

  4. From meandering to seeking

  5. Entering the Kingdom. 

How do we walk with people on this journey? 

If you have questions about how to share your faith, we have two Growth Classes coming up after the service on Sunday, November 17th and Sunday, December 1st on this topic. We also have some curriculum around this to discuss in your Connection Groups in the month of December. 

1) Sunday, November 17th - 12:15-2pm in Pinder Hall

We will have a panel discussion on the topic of witness made up of some members of our congregation. This is a chance to hear how they have thought about this themselves, and to hear how they connect with their friends around the topic of faith.

2) Sunday, December 1st 12:15-2pm in Pinder Hall

In this session, we will have a group discussion together based out of the book I Once Was Lost. We'll talk more about the five thresholds and what it looks like to partner with what God is doing at each of these stages. 

Lunch will be provided, but please bring $5 to contribute. 

REGISTER HERE

 

3) Connection Group Sessions

If you're in a Connection Group, we encourage you to watch the new Alpha Life Shared videos with your group during the month of December. These three 15min videos are a good place to start to help you think more about how you share your faith in your daily life. More info to come. 

You can check out the trailer HERE.

Rebecca Thornber
Minister of Discipleship & Community

A Prayer based on Chapters 1 to 3 of the Gospel of Mark

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Jesus
You are the beginning of the good news
You are the Saviour
You are the Son of God

The Kingdom of God is at hand

 John
Prepared the way for You
By calling people to repent
So that they might be forgiven for their sins
And ready to receive You

Lord
We repent
And ask You to forgive our sins
That we might prepare the way for You
And receive You more wholly into our lives

Jesus
You were baptized
Affirmed in Your ministry by Your Father
And tested in the desert

Lord
We thank You for the times of rededication to You that we have experienced
We thank You for all the ways You have spoken words of affirmation to us
And we thank You for the times of testing You have brought us safely through

Jesus
You called fishermen –
Simon and Andrew, James and John –
To follow You
And, straight away,
They left their nets and followed You

Lord
When you call us to be fishers of men
Help us not to overvalue what we must give up
And not to hesitate to follow You

Jesus
You brought a new teaching – with authority
And people were astonished
You told the unclean spirits what to do
And the spirits obeyed
You healed people with fevers, diseases and disabilities
And everyone who the crowds brought to You who was ill
You cured

Lord
We call out to You
To speak to us with authority
To deliver us from evil
And to heal us from our physical, mental and emotional wounds

Jesus
You commended four friends
For their faith in bringing a paralysed man to You
And You freely forgave his sins

Lord
Help us be equally zealous
In bringing our friends to You
In the certain hope
That You will freely offer Your forgiveness to them also

Jesus
You called Levi to be Your disciple –
A tax collector who had betrayed his faith and his people –
And You visited and ate with those
Others looked down on

Lord
Despite how we have betrayed You and Your people in our lives
We ask that You would call us to be Your disciples also
And teach us, in turn,
To befriend people others reject

Jesus
You are the Healer
You are the Bridegroom
You are the New Wine;
The Wine of the Kingdom of God

Lord
Enable us to admit our need of Your healing
Help us to celebrate Your presence among us
And change us
So that our church can be the new wineskins
Filled with the life of the Kingdom of God

Jesus
The disciples struggled to understand who You were
The Pharisees plotted a way to destroy You
And Your own family accused You of being out of Your senses

 Lord
Help us –
Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit
Through prayer
And through the reading of the Scriptures –
To know You as You really are

We pray all these things
For ourselves
For our families
For our friends
And for our neighbours
To the Glory of God
And for the Honour of Your Name

The Kingdom of God is at hand

Amen

Posted by Anthony Brown

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