Reflections on how Christians help each other to grow and mature in loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Meditation on All-Saints

All Saints was one of John Wesley’s favorite holy days. I suspect one of the reasons Wesley held this day in such high esteem is that it is an annual reminder that Christian faith is a gift that is passed on from generation to generation. All Saints reminds us that we stand on the shoulders of all those faithful witnesses who have gone before us; the living and the dead.
The feast of All Saints teaches that grace is relational. We know and experience God’s love through the people God gives to us in this life. God is revealed and made real through people who love God enough to allow God’s grace to flow through their lives for the world.

Here’s a story of a saint through whom God’s grace flowed freely:

“Martha Thompson was born of humble means in Preston (England) in 1731. Unlike many young women of her time, she had been schooled in the basic skills of reading and writing. She had also been trained as an apprentice to a tailor. At the age of nineteen, she left Preston and journeyed 209 miles to London where she had obtained a position in the mansion of a wealthy Preston lady.

“One day she was sent on an errand to the heart of London and passed Moorfields. There, to her amazement, she saw an enormous crowd, and heard the thousands burst into song. She had never heard such singing before. The preacher was a small man, thin, with fine, shapely cut features and closely shaved chin. He wore a clergyman’s gown and bands. He stood on a table, and with an air of calm authority, arrested universal attention.

“It was indeed a motley crowd from streets and slums – merchants and tradesmen, outcast and thieves, high born and low born, warm friends and bitter opponents, well-dressed people, ragged and dirty people, and they were all listening. The message was, ‘Ye must be born again.’

“Martha was first curious, and then she was spellbound and riveted, and knew not how to tear herself away. Back home her mistress admonished her. ‘Never listen to that man again. If you do, he will drive you mad, he will ruin you, body and soul.’ But Martha could not forget.

“On several occasions she slipped back to Moorfields to hear the man whom Oxford cynics had called ‘a little crack-brained.’ After hearing Wesley one day, during the singing of Isaac Watts’ 'The Lord Jehovah Reigns,’ Martha found that inner peace and joy which Wesley called ‘the inner witness of the Spirit.’ Watts’ words were Martha’s deepest feelings:

And will this sovereign King
Of glory condescend,
And will he write his name,
My Father and my Friend?
I love his name, I love his word;
Join all my powers to praise the Lord.

“And praise the Lord she did when she returned to the suburban London mansion. ‘Martha’s demented,’ the servants complained to their mistress. An order was issued that Martha should be admitted to the dreaded institution of Bedlam.

“Wesley’s request to preach at Bedlam had been rejected. In the Journal he wrote, ‘I have been forbidden to go to Newgate for fear of making them wicked, and now I am forbidden to go to Bedlam for fear of driving them mad.’ He sent two doctors in his place. Through the doctors Martha was eventually released and found herself back in Preston, a place where there were no Methodists and, indeed, Methodists were despised. She discovered a Methodist class of fifteen members six miles out on the moorlands. So every Sunday she walked six miles out and six miles back. By 1759 Martha had gathered a little class of five Methodists in Preston.

“Martha Thompson wrote to Wesley, inviting him to come to Preston and visit with her little class meeting. Wesley’s first visit to Preston was in 1780. Over the following decade he came to Preston on three other occasions and was guest in Martha’s home.

“Martha visited the sick, she ministered to the poor, and was ever an ‘angel of light’ among her own people. She lived to be eighty-nine, and when infirm, with a lantern in her hand, a child would lead her in winter to the early morning service and the night service as well. When she came to die, her children and grandchildren gathered round her bed and said, ‘Let us sing dear old granny home.’ What did they sing? What else could they sing than the old conversion hymn sung on the occasion of Martha’s conversion after having heard Wesley preach? And the last sound she heard on earth was this:

And will this sovereign King
Of glory condescend,
And will he write his name,
My Father and my Friend?
I love his name, I love his word;
Join all my powers to praise the Lord.

“Twenty years after Wesley’s death, Martha died.

“Martha may not have had the facility with words that Wesley had. She did know profoundly, however, in her inner being, the key words of Wesley’s preaching – justification and sanctification. She knew herself to have been pardoned by a Father and a Friend. She knew herself to have been given a new birth in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit. She knew the empowering, sanctifying grace through the Holy Spirit. ‘My Father and My Friend.” For Martha this was the essence of the gospel. And this because a young woman once heard by chance – or was it not the prevenient grace of Christ – at Moorfields a slight little man proclaim that very word of grace.”[1]

Who are the saints in your life? Who are the people through whom the grace of Christ has flowed for you, to introduce you to Jesus and his love, to bring you to receive the gifts of faith, repentance, and assurance? Who are the persons, the saints, whose lives have shaped and formed yours?

Give thanks to God for them today and every day.

Steven W. Manskar
[1] Logan, James. How Great a Flame: Contemporary Lessons from The Wesleyan Revival (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2005), 19-22.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Expecting the End Without the Means

In his A Plain Account of Christian Perfection John Wesley cautioned the Methodists against “enthusiasm.” Today we would call this “religious fanaticism.” It is religion that emphasizes feelings. “Enthusiasm” is individualistic faith that is “between me and Jesus.”

Here’s how Wesley puts it:

“Beware of that child of pride, enthusiasm. Have nothing to do with it! Leave no room for an undisciplined imagination. Do not hastily attribute things to God. Do not easily believe that dreams, voices, impressions, visions, or revelations are from God. They may be from God. They may be from nature. They may be from the devil. Therefore, ‘Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). …

“One general entrance to enthusiasm is expecting the end without the means. For example:
  • expecting knowledge without searching the Scriptures and consulting the children of God;

  • expecting spiritual strength without constant prayer and steady watchfulness;

  • expecting any blessing without hearing the word of God at every opportunity.”

Many United Methodist congregations could learn much by pondering these lines. Pastors and Church Council members wonder why their congregation is not growing or why members give less than 3% of their annual income to the church. All this while giving little or no thought to “doing all in their power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love.”

The problem is we expect church members to pray but don’t bother to teach them to pray. We don’t have any expectation that they will be connected to a small group where they will receive mutual accountability and support for growing in love of God and living out that love by loving their neighbor as themselves.

United Methodist congregations and church members desire growth in numbers and in spiritual vitality. However, they too often “expect the end without the means.” They receive new members with little or no preparation or Christian initiation. Congregations have very low expectations of members, and they nearly always live up to them.

I recently had a conversation with a typical member of a United Methodist Church who told me that he would like to be able to offer beautiful prayers in public situations; such as grace before a meal or prayer before or at the end of a meeting. This person told me that he admired women and men he knew who could offer eloquent and moving public prayers. When I told him that an ability to pray in public is most likely an indication of a vital and disciplined life of prayer, I received a blank stare. When I continued by telling my friend that if he really wanted to be able to confidently offer public prayers, a good place to begin would be to begin a daily practice of personal prayer and Bible reading. Again, I received a blank stare, followed by “I don’t have time for that. And besides, I don’t know how to begin.” My friend is suffering from a form of “enthusiasm” in that he is desiring the ends (the ability to pray eloquently in public) without the means (developing a regular practice of prayer and Bible study).

This person has been a member of The United Methodist Church all his life. He shared with me that he was baptized as an infant in a United Methodist congregation, participated in UMYF and went to a UM related college. He is a leader and occasional Sunday School teacher in his church. And yet, he does not know how to, nor does he have time to pray and read his Bible.

All this is to say that we need to begin to be much more intentional, even “methodical” in helping our members to keep their Baptismal Covenant. The way we do that is by initiating them into the “method” of Methodism: small groups for mutual accountability and support where Christians “watch over one another in love” and teaching and practicing the “means of grace.” Only then will people like my friend above be equipped to become fully the person God created him to be, in Christ.

This is not “rocket science” and yet, we seem to resist this common sense cure for what ails us at every turn. Why is that?

Steve Manskar

Saturday, October 15, 2005

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Means of Grace: Basics of Discipleship

Practicing the means of grace is how disciples of Jesus Christ live out and grow in loving God and neighbor. They are the basics of discipleship through which the Holy Spirit forms what John Wesley called “holy tempers” (see Galatians 5:22) in the soul.
Please check out this article to read more:

Opening Ourselves to Grace: The Basics of Discipleship

Steven Manskar

Monday, October 03, 2005

What Happened to the UMC Mission Statement?

A person looking at annual conference, local church, and general agency web sites, reading newsletters and other publications, and listening to United Methodist pastors, district superintendents, bishops, and general agency staff persons see and hear very clearly that the mission of The United Methodist Church is “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” But is it really? If you actually read the mission as it appears in ¶ 120 of the Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church – 2004, you will find the following:

¶ 120. The Mission – The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.

Did you notice the period after the word “Christ”? There is no mention of “for the transformation of the world.”
If you continue reading in ¶ 121 you will find the rationale for the mission. This is where one would expect to find “for the transformation of the world.” But you will not find it. Rather, you will find discussion of “fulfillment of God’s reign and realm in the world.” The rationale makes clear that the mission of making disciples of Jesus is Christ is the church’s response to the in-breaking and coming reign of God. The church is called by Christ to make disciples in order to participate in preparing the world for the coming kingdom of God. The church is to make disciples so that it can participate in Christ’s work of ushering in the reign of God. It is very clear that the Church does not “transform the world.” God will be the one doing the work of transforming the world; with or without the Church.
It’s a mystery to me as to why “transform the world” was added to the denomination’s mission statement. It is also a concern to me because it muddles the mission of the church. My guess is that much of the church’s leadership is at a loss as to how to “make disciples of Jesus Christ.” But they have very definite ideas about how to “transform the world.” Some would transform the world in the image of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. Others would transform the world in the image of the “good old days” when the churches were full on Sunday morning and the culture was “Christian.” However, I suspect neither image, or any other to emerge from limited human desire or imagination, resembles the in-breaking and coming reign of God.
The other problem with this hybrid mission statement is that it is not Biblical and it is not Wesleyan. The mission statement as it appears in The Book of Discipline is derived directly from Matthew 28:18-20

… Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Jesus is very clear here that the mission is to go into the world and make disciples. We are to baptize them into the name and family of the triune God. And we are to teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded. Jesus’ summarized his commands in Mark 12:28-34 and John 13:34-35 –

  • Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength

  • Live out your love for God by loving those whom God loves

  • Love one another, as Christ loves you

  • Loving one another will reveal to the world that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ

All this is beautifully summarized by the writer of 1 John

Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:7-12).

The emphasis here is on “making disciples of Jesus Christ.” The task described here is that of transforming human character into the Christ-like character. It is about changing hearts, minds, and lives into the image of Christ so that they becomes and live in the world as channels of divine grace. The church is to form persons who live so that the light of Christ shines through them for the world; “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
John Wesley’s ministry was focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ. His mission was to save souls and to help them to live as channels of grace for the world. If Wesley’s mission was to “transform the world,” he went about it by doing all in his power to help Christ transform human hearts, minds, and lives.
He understood that human beings were too limited and fallible in knowledge and understanding to begin to “transform the world.” Only God possessed the knowledge, wisdom, and power to change the world. Wesley was very clear that his task, and the task of the Church, was to proclaim and live the gospel of Jesus Christ so that it is indeed good news to those who hear and receive it. He knew enough from his study of Scripture and experience of human limitations to leave the business of transformation of the world up to God. He also believed and proclaimed that the gospel equips the Church to participate in God’s mission of transformation of human lives and of the world.
The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Adding to this “for the transformation of the world” only muddies the waters. If the Church is to make disciples it should leave the rest up to God and God’s purposes. After all, Scripture is fairly clear that disciples are to be prepared to live as citizens of the reign of God. In the process they are transformed by grace to become fully the human beings God created them to be, in Christ.
Finally, it seem to me that the phrase “to transform the world” exposes a post-Constantinian understanding of the Church that has more to do with power and politics than it does with the Scriptural witness. The Church entered the “transformation of the world” business when it became the state religion of the Roman Empire; this eventually lead to the Crusades and the Inquisition. It is the Church taking over for God. When the Church takes on for itself the work of transforming the world, it is like telling God “Thanks for all you’ve done to get us to this point. We’ll take over from here. If we need your help, we’ll give you a call.”
The United Methodist Church may begin to grow and experience new life and vitality when it focuses all of its energy into the ministry of making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is the mission given by Jesus himself. And he has given some clear instructions on how to do this important work. He also makes clear that transformation of the world is his job. The church will play a part if and when it lives out the mission Christ has given to it.

Steven W. Manskar

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"Do All in Your Power ..."

Steven W. Manskar

     At the conclusion of the Baptismal Covenant (I , II and III) found in The United Methodist Hymnal the pastor says the following words to the congregation:

     Members of the household of God,
     I commend these persons to your love and care.
     Do all in your power to increase their faith,
     confirm their hope, and perfect them in love.

The congregation then accepts and affirms this commendation by welcoming the newly baptized person into the fellowship of the church. They also reaffirm their commitment to Christ and the church through their prayers, presence, gifts and service.
     My family and I are part of a congregation that regularly receives new members as one of the final acts of Sunday morning worship. After hearing those words of Commendation and Welcome over and over and over again on Sunday morning it suddenly dawned on me that they are very important and powerful, even transforming.
     This is an important and powerful promise. It says that when you become a member of this church the expectation is that your faith will increase, your hope will be confirmed and you will be perfected in love. It says to me that the congregation will do everything possible to make this promise is more than words on a page.
     The Commendation summarizes the church’s role in the baptismal covenant. The church promises to be a community of love and care in which the members do everything in their power to help one another grow in faith, hope, and love. Everything the church does needs to help its members participate in and cooperate with the grace given freely to them in baptism and re-presented each week in the Lord’s Supper. This is how the congregation becomes a means of grace that helps each person grow up in faith, hope, and love. When this responsibility is taken seriously every person that comes into contact with the church will experience the life and love of the living God incarnate in Jesus Christ.
     What is faith and how is it increased? What is hope and how is it confirmed? How on earth is a person perfected in love? These questions have their answers in Scripture. United Methodist congregations will also find help with these questions when they look to their Wesleyan tradition. Very briefly:

  • Scripture: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

  • John Wesley: “… faith is a divine evidence and conviction, not only that ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself’ (2 Cor. 5:19), but also that Christ ‘loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20). It is by this faith … that we receive Christ; that we receive him in all his offices, as our Prophet, Priest, and King. It is by this that he ‘is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption’ (1 Cor. 1:30).” (John Wesley, Sermon 43, “The Scripture Way of Salvation,” §II.2, in Sermons II, ed. Albert C. Outler, vol. 2 of The Bicentennial Edition of the Works of John Wesley (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1976), 161.)

  • Scripture: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” 1 John 3:1-3.

  • John Wesley: “A Methodist who has this hope is so full of eternal life that he or she gives thanks in everything, knowing that this (whatever it is) is the will of God in Christ Jesus. … They have wholly committed body and soul ‘into the hands of a faithful Creator’ (1 Peter 4:19). They have ‘cast all care on God who cares for them.’ Because of this they fear nothing and ‘in all things’ rest on Christ, having made their ‘request known to God with thanksgiving’(Philippians 4:6).” (John Wesley, A Perfect Love: Understanding John Wesley’s ‘A Plain Account of Christian Perfection’ (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2004), 11.)

Perfect them in love
  • Scripture: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

  • John Wesley: “Perfection is nothing higher and nothing lower than this: the pure love of God and human beings. In other words, loving God with all our heart and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves. It is love governing the heart and life, running through all our tempers, words, and actions” (A Perfect Love, page 40).

     We see here that faith, hope and love are gifts from God. They are given and received by grace. They are the holy tempers, given by God, through which humans grow more and more into the image of Christ. As faith, hope and love are exercised in life, the person becomes more and more the woman or man God created them to be. These gifts have power to form and transform human life because they reflect in us the life and character of God. Because they represent the character and nature of the triune God their power is released and received in community, the household of Christ. People learn faith, hope and love from others who are seasoned in the way of Christ. Therefore, the church, as the community of the baptized, is created and commissioned by God to form persons who are channels of faith, hope and love. This is what it means to “make disciples of Jesus Christ.”
     John and Charles Wesley and the early Methodist understood very well the importance of the Christian community, small groups and mutual accountability and support to the work of Christian formation. Faith was increased, hope confirmed and persons were perfected in love through the system of small groups developed in the Methodist societies. In the classes, bands, select societies, and penitent bands women and men learned the basic practices of Christian life and, through regular accountability and support, were helped to grow up in love. This was the expectation of the Wesleys and the Methodist societies.
     Today Covenant Discipleship groups play an integral role in this process of increasing faith, confirming hope, and perfecting persons in love.
     When a congregation promises to “do all in your power to increase their faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love” it makes a commitment to assure that each baptized member is given regular opportunities and places to learn, practice, and be accountable for growing in faith, hope and love. In fact, the Baptismal Covenant reveals that these are not optional activities. According to Scripture and tradition, they are expectations and responsibilities. Each baptized person can expect that they will grow in faith, their hope will be confirmed and they will be perfected in love. They are also responsible for participating in this process by learning and practicing the means of grace in their daily lives. The church has the responsibility to help its members participate in this process by providing a system of small groups for learning, accountability, and support for Christian formation. The goal of this system is to increase faith, confirm hope and help persons strive toward perfection in love. Christ is honored and glorified when these expectations are present and active in his household and in each person.

Help us to help each other, Lord,
Each other's cross to bear;
Let each his friendly aid afford,
And feel his brother's care.

Help us to build each other up,
Our little stock improve;
Increase our faith, confirm our hope,
And perfect us in love.

Charles Wesley

     How is your congregation helping its members to grow in faith, confirm their hope, and perfect them in love? We want to hear from you. Tell us what your church is doing. Contact Steven Manskar, Director of Accountable Discipleship at or PO Box 340003, Nashville, TN 37203-0003.

Practicing the Basics

by Steven W. Manskar

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus … Therefore … work out your own salvation; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure”
(Philippians 2:5, 12b-13).

     One of my favorite signs of spring is baseball spring training. After a five-month rest, the teams assemble every March to take up glove, bat, and ball to hone their throwing, catching, hitting and running skills. Spring training is a time to remember and practice the fundamentals of the game. Players and coaches know the teams that do the best at practicing the basics (hitting, running, catching, throwing, and thinking) are the teams that win championships and have the most fun.
     I once read a brief article in Sports Illustrated magazine with a producer for a major television network’s broadcasts of major league baseball games. If you watch baseball on television, you know that the managers, along with some of the coaches and players, wear microphones during the games. This allows the network to occasionally broadcast parts of on-field or dugout conversations. The producer’s job was to listen to those conversations. The interviewer asked, “What surprised you most as you listened to all those conversations?” Her reply fascinated me. She said, “The thing that surprised me most was how often the managers and coaches reminded the players to pay attention to the basics of the game.”
     Think about it. Major League players have played baseball nearly all their lives. And yet, they must be reminded to attend to the basics. This is because the basics are easily taken for granted and neglected. Coaches know that when the basics are neglected play gets sloppy and games are lost.
     Good coaches understand that becoming and being a baseball player happens through attending to the fundamental skills of the game. If you love the game, study and learn its strategy, practice the basics and listen to your coach, you will become a baseball player.
     Now, you may be wondering what all this has to do with discipleship. As I study and learn about Christian discipleship in the Wesleyan tradition, I have become convinced that it is very similar to playing baseball. There is a set of basic skills that must be learned and practiced. With discipline and practice persons grow in love, knowledge and ability to live into the goal of discipleship (Phil. 2:5). An athlete who engages in the discipline of baseball becomes a baseball player. A person who commits his or her life to the discipline of following Jesus Christ in the world becomes a Christian disciple.
     We know that not all people are gifted athletes. However, God has given every human being the gift of God’s own image (Genesis 1:27). This means that we are created to be like God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God’s triune nature is relational. God is a community of divine love. Therefore, to be created in the image of the triune God is to be created for relationship. This means we are created for love.
The gift that God shares with all of humankind is the capacity to love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). God has given us the means to develop and grow into Christ’s way of loving and living in the world: grace. Flowing from that grace are the teachings (Matthew 5:1-7:29), commandments (Matthew 22:37-39; 28:19-20a; John 13:34-35), and promises (Matthew 18:18-20; 28:20b; John 14:1-3, 15-27) of Jesus Christ.
Grace is the power of God working in the world to draw all of humankind to God’s self. It is the power of God’s love that gives human beings the capacity and ability to love. Love is grace. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It is God’s love, incarnate and active in the world in Jesus Christ, that awakens, equips, and empowers us to love as God loves. This love draws us to God and sends us into the world to love those whom God loves as God loves them.
The teachings, commandments and promises of Christ guide us into this way of life. They are like the rules of baseball in that they provide boundaries and direction for playing the game. Inside the boundaries of the rules there are infinite possibilities for how the game is played. The same is true of life lived in Christ.
The rules of baseball determine the basic skills and practices players must develop if they are to have fun and play the game well: throwing, catching, hitting, running, and thinking. They also establish that one must be part of a team in order to play the game. Baseball is not an individual endeavor. It is a team effort. The same is true of Christian faith.
The teachings, commandments and promises of Jesus determine the basic practices that must be taught and learned. They also establish that to be a Christian means being part of a community that promises to surround you with … love and forgiveness, to pray for you and to do all in their power to increase your faith, confirm your hope and perfect you in love (see The United Methodist Hymnal pages 35 and 38).
If we are to follow Jesus and love those whom he loves as he loves them, we need to learn and practice some basic disciplines: prayer, worship, the Lord’s Supper, reading and studying the Bible, participating in small groups for mutual accountability and support, fasting or abstinence, feeding the hungry and thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing those who have no clothes, caring for the sick, and visiting the prisoners. John Wesley called these basic practices works of piety and works of mercy. He understood that attending to these “means of grace” is “faith working by love” (Galatians 5:6). They are how Christians “work out their salvation” (Philippians 2:12-13).
These basic practices of faith are called “means of grace” because they are gifts given by God through which the Holy Spirit works in disciples to heal and form their character into the character of Christ. They are how disciples live into “having the mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5).
One of the purposes of Covenant Discipleship groups is to help disciples learn and practices the basics of Christian faith and life. They do this with others who are seeking to grow in love of God and neighbor. Those who have more experience and maturity in discipleship share their experience with those who are less experienced. As disciples meet together weekly for mutual accountability and support for following Christ in the world they become more and more the persons God created them to be, in Christ. As Christians help one another practice the basics of following Jesus they become more confident and faithful witnesses to and channels of his love for the world.