Our Discipleship Path

Our understanding of discipleship is rooted in Scripture where Jesus is seen, heard, and experienced by people from all walks of life, including those with a faith foundation and those who have yet to know God in any way, shape, or fashion. As a Church, we follow Jesus’ command (which we often call The Great Commission) that is found in Matthew’s Gospel:

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Our understanding of the Christian faith, therefore, is a “going” faith. Our Mission Statement at Marshall FUMC, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”, is based on The Great Commission. The spirit of the Methodist movement is characterized by going to the people with a passion for making disciples. Unfortunately, we often forget that our passion and drive as Methodists for disciple-making is found in the actual effort, continuing and ongoing, to respond to Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples.” We are reminded of the continuing journey and process to which Jesus spoke. As we “go” there is greater passion for making disciples who are transforming the world.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Matthew 9: 35-37)

Marshall FUMC’s Discipleship Path is designed to help each of us understand discipleship and the characteristics of a disciple, acknowledging that our spiritual growth as disciples is much like the life cycle of an oak tree. (See the Discipleship Path.) There is a time when we are like an acorn simply sitting on the ground. We then become a seedling. Once new life bursts forth we become a sapling, then a growing tree and then a mature, mighty oak. In a similar way, we journey through the five spiritual stages. As we grow, as we move toward maturity, we acknowledge that the pace of change/growth is not the same for all of us.

Comparing our spiritual growth to the growth of an oak tree helps us see or determine where we are in our spiritual journey as disciples of Jesus and to see what stages of discipleship still lie ahead. For our Discipleship Path, we have named five stages of spiritual life/growth. These five stages are Indifferent, Curious, New Believer, Growing Believer, and Mature Believer. Every person is at a different point along the journey. Not everyone moves through the stages of development at the same age or at the same pace. Nevertheless, we use these stages and the image of a path to remind ourselves that discipleship is a lifelong journey.

A discipleship path is intended to provide us with guidance, confidence, encouragement, and assurance along the way.

Therefore, we offer this intentional system of discipleship in hopes that you are able to sense who Jesus is calling you to be as a follower; to determine your current stage of Christian maturity (growth); and to better understand how your future journey of discipleship can be lived out in the context of relationships with Jesus, within the local church and with your neighbors; and ways that the local church offers its ministries of support and nurture to you.

Being Jesus Christ’s disciple is not about checking boxes on our spiritual to-do lists. It is about a living loving relationship with the Lord of Life. This comes through acknowledging Jesus as the leader of your life and the forgiver of your sins. In John 3:3 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” This new life is received by faith in Jesus. Jesus goes on to say in John 3:16, For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Believing in Jesus is a matter of faith in God’s love and receiving new life given through Jesus. If you desire to be Jesus’ disciple, turn your heart and life to him today. Talk to the pastor or other Christ follower and ask them to pray with you and support you on your discipleship path.

To find out more about growing as a discipleship of Jesus Christ, please contact Pastor Bob Sabo at [email protected]

May the Lord bless you as you explore the discipleship path!