Since the mission of the UMC is to “make disciples” and Jesus gave the same instruction in Matthew 28:16-20, the questions is not should we make disciples? The question churches must answer is how shall we make disciples? The answer to that question is a Discipleship Pathway.
A pathway is a uniquely Wesleyan framework assisting a disciple grow in his or her relationship with Jesus Christ in a systematic way.
United Methodists make disciples as we:
- proclaim the gospel, seek, welcome and gather persons into the body of Christ;
- lead persons to commit their lives to God through baptism by water and the spirit and profession of faith in Jesus Christ;
- nurture persons in Christian living through worship, the sacraments, spiritual disciplines, and other means of grace, such as Wesley’s Christian conferencing;
- send persons into the world to live lovingly and justly as servants of Christ by healing the sick, feeding the hungry, caring for the stranger, freeing the oppressed, being and becoming a compassionate, caring presence, and working to develop social structures that are consistent with the gospel; and
- continue the mission of seeking, welcoming and gathering persons into the community of the body of Christ.
This four-step process, which as you can see is a continual cycle, can be found in ¶122 of the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
Churches are encouraged to developed their own discipleship pathways which include systematic and identifiable ways for people to grow closer to Jesus daily through learning, formation and engagement. The conference’s Discipleship office has created a model pathway. You can download it here.
This pathway incorporates the Wesleyan way of salvation, particular spiritual practices as well as historic teachings of John Wesley.
Feel free to utilize these resources in crafting a pathway for your church or simply describe your own pathway. You can also find specific information about using a system called “HOPE” in another section of this website.
The denomination also collects intentional discipleship pathways at this website. One of these might be helpful to your context.
For more information about creating or refining a pathway in your church, contact Rev Derrek Belase, director of Connectional Ministry, firstname.lastname@example.org, 405-530-2020.