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Recognizing and Understanding Discipleship: A New Initiative

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By Charles “Charley” Metcalf

Our Diocese, under the spiritual leadership of our Bishop, has launched a new initiative, The Discipleship Symposium, a series of three conversations - open to all parishes and their members, describes, discusses, and explains the process of discipleship. The first symposium, which attracted 45 enthusiastic clergy and lay participants, was
held this past August at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA.

Two additional symposia have been scheduled: Symposium #2, Cultural Engagement in the Process of Making Disciples, on January 20, 2018; and Symposium #3, Patterns of Making Disciples, on May 5, 2018. A fourth symposium to integrate lessons learned from the three earlier symposia is being considered if there is sufficient demand or interest. Locations for these events have not yet been announced. Registration for the two remaining symposia is now open and available online or by mailing your registration to the Diocesan office in Pittsburgh.

A disciple is a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christ-like. This process requires believers to respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting to examine their thoughts, words and actions and compare them with the Word of God. This requires that we be in the Word daily—studying it, praying over it, and obeying it. In addition, we should always be ready to give testimony of the reason(s) for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15) and to disciple others to walk in His way.

We are commanded to share our faith and tell others about the wonderful changes Jesus Christ made in our lives. No matter what our maturity level in the Christian life, we have something to offer. Too often, we believe the lie from Satan that we don’t really know enough or haven’t been a Christian long enough to make a difference. Not true! Some of the most enthusiastic representatives of the Christian life are new believers who have just discovered the awesome love of God. They may not know many Bible verses or the “accepted” way of saying things, but they have experienced the love and grace of the living God, which is exactly what we are to share with others.

Following a study outline developed by The Rev. Jack Gabig, a faculty member at Trinity School for Ministry, and The Rev. Paul Cooper, rector and senior pastor of All Saints’ Church in Cranberry Township, in consultation with Bishop Hobby, the first symposium examined Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles to better understand the Biblical foundation of discipleship. We discussed the ways in which the Disciples learned how to apply them, so we could follow their lead, not only in our churches and congregations but also in our neighborhoods and our communities. For some of us, it was an eye-opening, life-changing experience. The power and glory of the Holy Spirit walked before, stood next to, and walked behind us. He guided and informed each phase of the symposium. Throughout our time together, we began to more clearly embrace and recognize the importance of our spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. As believing, practicing Christians, we acknowledge and recognize that it is our obligation and responsibility to share what we know about Jesus Christ with everyone ... our families, our friends, our neighbors, our communities, as well as the institutions and organizations to which we belong or support. Forty-five of us heard, got, and hopefully internalized that message at the first symposium.

We sincerely hope that you can join us by registering and attending either or both of upcoming symposia. The second symposium is next January (Saturday, January 20, 2018), and the third symposium is next May (Saturday, May 5, 2018). Registration is simple and easy: online or by mail. Our goal is to see our Diocese on fire for discipleship so that, working together, we can spread the good news of Jesus Christ not only within our congregations but also within our communities, our neighborhoods, and our institutions. It is our obligation and our responsibility.

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