Spiritual Story of the Discipleship Pathway
In October 2019, around 100 staff and church members worked together to ask, “What do we do next?” Our church had been blessed to be stable with a large variety of desirable programs and ministries. However, we had not seen significant change in our attendance, and we felt that we needed to grow spiritually. So, how could we leverage up to the next level?
What we concluded was, that though we had many great things going on, they were not all tied to our mission, “to provide a community where every person can experience their Christ-centered life of purpose.” Also, there was no progression or plan to related all of the activities.
To grow into a healthy future, we needed an intentional, clearly marked path of growth for those attending. This path needed next step options that would enable people to progress more deeply in their faith. Equally important, all of our activities needed to point persons to this path – everything we put energy into needed to be purposeful. So began the Discipleship Pathway.
The Discipleship Pathway provides next steps in five key areas of faith: 1) worship, 2) serving others in need, 3) volunteering in church ministries, 4) learning in small groups, and 5) generosity.
The Pathway crosses these five areas of faith with three broad steps in spiritual development, based on the theology of John and Charles Wesley.
Discovering – Based on the Wesley’s idea of Prevenient Grace (or grace that “precedes” us, this is the time when God is working in our lives – and often we are not aware of it. There are moments of discovery and God works in and around us.
Engaging – There is a moment when we engage in a relationship with God, and begin committing to God’s values and purposes. The Wesley’s called this Justifying Grace.
Transformation – For the Wesley’s this stage in spiritual development is called “Sanctifying Grace.” Here we increasing allow God to direct our lives and see God’s purposes as greater than our own.
Next steps are provided for each of the five areas, at each of the three levels of formation.
For the Discipleship Pathway to work, it requires that certain elements become part of our DNA.
Those who are a part of the church must develop the courage and intentionality to invite persons to events and groups where they can discover God and the church.
Growing churches believe and practice the discipline of prayer – prayer opens a church to God’s possibilities.
Persons who have begun to mature in their faith have to move from participant to leader.
Invitation-Prayer-Leadership – these we pray become the fabric of the DNA for Vestavia Methodist, thus enabling the Discipleship Pathway to work.