Sunday, February 28, 2010


Good morning God,
There have been several blogs recently about discipleship which have made me think about my own involvement in the disciple making process and, in particular, the relationship between ministry and discipleship.
Ministers often use the get-out clause that their task is to build up the people of God through the ministry of the Word and Sacrament, but in Methodism, these are believed to be converting as well as confirming ordinances. This means that it is beholden on us to ensure that we always preach for conversion as well as for confirmation or formation in discipleship. I'm not sure I always do that God - sorry. I sometimes lose sight of the fact that even though I have seen these faces week in and week out - these same people may not yet have seen your face, or know your grace.

Worse, there is a very real danger of the service of Holy Communion being conducted as a service for those in the 'know' rather than for those who need to know - even if they don't know why! So sorry God - I have missed so many opportunities to minister your prevenient grace in this way.

Discipleship is more than conversion to a belief in you, discipleship is the choice to make that belief definitive of the rest of our lives. It entails change challenge and choice - which is not easy.
Change requires us to rearrange the various parts of our lives in order to accommodate a new top priority - YOU. It's the sort of change of life that is normally only associated with marriage or childbirth or death because it impacts every relationship we have. This is just one of the reasons that discipleship is challenging. It may well be that family and friends resent the fact that You have become such a priority and that as a result certain other things seem less important. Disciples make choices about what is and isn't important and a good use of their time, resources and life, and not all of those choices will be approved of by others.

All of which makes discipleship sound difficult and 'religious' and a bit of an anachronism.
But it's not like that at all..
Being invited to discipleship is about being invited to discover what it is to be more fully who we were created to be..  We are changed, yes, but for the better (and no - I dont mean that we become 'good' or 'pious') We discover abilities we never knew we had and are challenged to use them as we work with you in building a world worth living in. We are freed and empowered to make choices we never knew we could before, about ourselves and the way in which we live and die. We discover that we have far more power than we knew to change the world for the better - that we really can make a difference, regardless of what our parents, or our partners, or teachers, or politicians might say. Every life counts when lived to the full in the power of the Spirit to your praise and glory.

It's important to not equate discipleship with holding office in the Church - that's what membership is all about! Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about learning how to discover and release the divine potential in the human, being a member of the Methodist Church is about being willing to work for the kingdom of God in a particular place with a particular group of people who subscribe to a particular set of beliefs and practices! The one might assist in the other but they are not the same.

But, you are right to challenge me God:  What am I doing to make new disciples, and to build up those that you have asked me to minister to?

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