Welcome to Accountable Discipleship
Welcome to Accountable Discipleship.
This blog is dedicated to reflection, learning, and the practices of Christian discipleship. The premise of this forum is that Christian faith is much more than agreeing to a set of doctrines or creeds. Don't get me wrong, belief and doctrine are part of faith but they are not the whole of it. Faith is a gift from God. It is the shape and character of the divine-human relationship. Which is to say that faith is relationship with God.
Like any relationship faith must be cared for and nurtured. We need to spend time with our beloved. We need to talk to the beloved, opening our heart and mind, sharing our hopes, dreams, desires and deepest needs. We must also listen for what the beloved is saying to us. And know that the beloved is listening.
The way that Christians attend to and nurture their relationship with God is through some basic practices that God has given: prayer, worship, the Lord's Supper, studying and reading and hearing the Scriptures, meeting in small groups with other Christians for mutual accountability and support for discipleship, fasting (or abstinence), feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming strangers, caring for the sick, visiting the prisoners, working for peace and justice for all of creation. Jesus did these things in his life in order to teach them to his followers and friends. He invites those who would be his disciples to join him in his life of loving God with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their mind, and with all their strength. And to love their neighbors as themselves.
Accountable Discipleship is how we help each other to live the Jesus life. Accountable Discipleship is how Christians grow in faith, hope, and love. Accountable Discipleship is how Christians obey Jesus' command to "love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). Jesus calls us into community, into relationships of mutual love, caring and support. Christians grow in love of God and neighbors best when they are in small groups that meet weekly to "watch over one another in love." They agree that each is responsible for helping the other become better disciples.
Covenant Discipleship groups (http://www.gbod.org/smallgroup/cd) is a model of Accountable Discipleship that has deep roots in the early Methodist class meetings and bands. A Covenant Discipleship group is 5 - 7 persons who are ready to be accountable for growing in their discipleship. They meet for one hour a week. The meeting begins with prayer and then each member of the group gives an account of how he or she has kept, or not kept, each part of the covenant the group has written. The covenant is based on the General Rule of Discipleship: To witness to Jesus Christ in the world and to follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When they have gone throug each part of the covenant, a member closes the meeting with a prayer.
Accountable Discipleship is also an important means of identifying and forming persons as leaders in discipleship who help the church do its mission and ministry in the world.
This blog will explore and reflect on the meaning and application of Accountable Discipleship for the Church today.