Accountable Discipleship - Issue #89
Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church is a small congregation nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The 150-year-old congregation offers programs for children, youth, and adults. Members are active in outreach and service in the neighborhood and the world.
Lead pastor, the Rev. Michelle Hargrave, introduced Covenant Discipleship Groups to the congregation in her first year at Fairmount Avenue. She did this for two reasons, one personal and the other missional.
Experience told the Rev. Hargrave that in order to be an effective pastor for the congregation and a witness for Christ in the world, she needed the mutual accountability and support that a Covenant Discipleship Group provides.
She also knew that Covenant Discipleship Groups form leaders in discipleship for the congregation. Weekly accountability for following Jesus in the world is a valuable spiritual discipline that helps the congregation live out its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Starting with just two groups, today FAUMC has seven groups with forty-four people participating. Each group writes its own covenant of discipleship shaped by 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. The groups meet weekly to pray for one another and to lovingly hold one another accountable for upholding the items in the covenant.
The people in Covenant Discipleship Groups are making a significant difference in the life of Fairmount Avenue United Methodist Church. They are leading Sunday school classes, helping to lead worship, and serving others in the neighborhood and the world. They are becoming confident witnesses of Jesus Christ in the world.
Some Questions for Discussion
- How does your congregation support and encourage pastors and other members of the church staff to practice spiritual disciplines and live out their discipleship beyond the church walls?
- Is mutual accountability for discipleship an expectation for leaders in your congregation? How do you intentionally help leaders fulfill this expectation?