Seek the Kingdom of God above all else. Luke 12:31 (New Living Translation)
We live in a beautiful world. Even though we realize that life is hard and that the world can be a difficult and painful place, we also have great hope that a different way of life is possible. Jesus came teaching about a different way of life that he called the Kingdom of God. It s a way of life where we love our enemies, where we forgive those who have hurt us, where generosity is more important than wealth, where kindness is more important than being right, where the weak and poor are put first, where it s better to give than receive and where leading is about serving. It s a counterintuitive way, which is not always obvious; where the last are first, powerlessness is strength and love overcomes fear. But as we follow Jesus we slowly wake up to the health and vitality of this new way and as his apprentices we become more like him. In this way the Kingdom comes: both in us as we are transformed personally and in the world around us as we live differently. Jesus and the way of life he brings can heal our world. Jesus taught us to seek and pray for this heaven on earth, to have great hope and earnestly pursue this transformation.
Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? Matthew 16:24 (The Message)
Discipleship is the means by which we surrender our lives to the way of Jesus and his Kingdom. We see discipleship as the foundation, the core, the motivation for everything we do. We are unapologetically committed to following Jesus and, as his apprentices, we look to his life, his teaching and his presence with us now for the transformation that needs to take place in our lives. This transformation is an ongoing process of change where we become better people: better friends, better partners, better parents, better workers, better neighbors. We want to become a community of people who are evidently growing in the art of living life well; people who live responsibly and ethically, looking out for others and caring for the environment a community of people who are becoming more like Jesus. This kind of transformation is an internal one as we surrender ourselves to Christ and learn from him, but, if authentic, will result in tangible change in the way we live our lives.
Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 (The Message)
Discipleship is the overarching theme and underlying reason for everything we do as a community. We want to be intentional about how we do church so that all our activity is centered on helping people make progress in their followership of Jesus. This will inevitably take on varied forms and approaches since no one discipleship journey is the same and as a community we are all at different stages. Also we want to be a vibrant, open community that creates space for people who are not necessarily disciples of Jesus yet, but who are attracted by what our community stands for. Likewise we recognize we have no monopoly on the truth and are intrigued by other people s journeys and always looking for ways we can learn from them.
We see discipleship as a holistic process in that it affects all of our lives (spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially, ethically, intellectually etc.). That happens in three inseparable ways:
- Growth: growing in our understanding and experience of God
- Community: developing enriching relationships with one another Servanthood: serving and caring for the world around us
- Servanthood: serving and caring for the world around us
These three areas are all part of discipleship, so to follow Jesus means we engage with them all. Any one of us may be more comfortable with one aspect compared to another, or may be stronger in one area than another, but we want to take a holistic approach where we are making some progress in all three. They are all interconnected: we can't grow outside of community; we can't be in community and not recognize our need to change and grow; we can't grow and not see the need to serve, we can't serve and not see our need to grow. This is a long term vision. We are on a journey in a process and change will happen slowly but inevitably. We will see progress as we stay focused and committed in the same direction for a long period of time. We can't force this journey or make it happen quickly but allow one another go at our own pace. It can only be owned together and not imposed.ShareThis