The Faith avenue creates the most spaces for disciple-making environments.
By Heber Ticas, Superintendent of South America
I recently had an encounter with a young man who desired to go deeper in his faith. He was brought up by parents who professed to be Catholic, but rarely expressed their faith. He felt that he knew about God but was not sure who God was for him. I could sense a heartfelt desire in this young man to embark on a journey of faith. He was longing for greater understanding of what it meant to be a follower of Christ. In other words, he was longing to be discipled.
A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ, and discipleship is the process of maturing in Christ—learning how to live in and share his life and his love with others. Discipleship is an essential component of any healthy ministry. In GCI, we believe that a healthy church lives out her participation in Jesus’ ministry in the three avenues of hope, love, and faith. It is the faith avenue of a local congregation that creates the most spaces for disciple-making environments. Such environments afford a congregation the ability to journey with new believers in the process of maturing and growing closer to Christ. What do these disciple-making environments look like? I believe that a robust faith avenue will create disciple-making environments that mirror Jesus’ model. Below I describe three elements that I believe are found in Jesus’ disciple-making ministry.
- Life on life: By life on life, I am trying to express that relationships are key in this process of participating with Jesus in helping someone grow closer and become more like Christ. It is more about sharing life together than a cognitive exercise.
- Life in community: The discipleship journey is not meant to be lived out alone. As followers of Christ, we are called to be the body of Christ. This means that we journey together, we learn from each other and most of all, we lean on each other.
- Life on mission: If discipleship is the journey towards becoming a mature follower of Christ, then a mature disciple is one who also understands our calling to participate in Jesus’ everyday mission to the world.
We will read more about these during 2021 as Equipper focuses on our theme of Faith Forward. Perhaps, there may be a few paradigms shifts that may have to take place in order to attain a healthy faith avenue. If your pastoral formation was anything like mine, you have probably understood discipleship to be more of an intellectual endeavor.
A healthier faith avenue will veer away from the intellectual aspect of discipleship as the sole component, and into the relational element where growth and learning materialize as it is modeled in community. I am not proposing that fun and games replace Bible study, but rather that spiritual discussion and spiritual maturity is best achieved in community.
These communal environments are the spaces where I believe discipleship best occurs. As I continued my conversation with the young man that I mentioned earlier, it dawned on me that our faith avenue in my congregation was lacking an intentional space where a 22-year-old young man can be plugged in and experience life with other believers in such a way that Christ can be modeled for him. As a pastor, this is one of the challenges that I face as I continue to participate with Jesus in his ministry. I pray that by his Spirit, the Lord gives us the wisdom and guidance to grow as leaders, and to forge ahead into healthier rhythms in our faith avenue.