Discipleship is a life-long pilgrimage
Discipleship is a life-long pilgrimage. For many United Methodists that pilgrimage began when we were baptized as infants. This means congregations need an intentional inter-generational disciple-formation process to help members live their baptismal vows.
The congregation promises:
“With God’s help we will proclaim the good news and live according to the example of Christ.
We will surround these persons with a community of love and forgiveness, that they may grow in their trust of God, and be found faithful in their service to others.
We will pray for them, that they may be true disciples who walk in the way that leads to life.”
The congregation welcomes the baptized person by saying:
“Through baptism you are incorporated by the Holy Spirit into God’s new creation and made to share in Christ’s royal priesthood.
We are all one in Christ Jesus.
With joy and thanksgiving we welcome you as members of the family of Christ.”
The meaning of these congregation statements is summarized in the commendation:
“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.”
Covenant Discipleship is an effective disciple formation process that equips children, youth, and adults to live their baptismal covenant. It forms the leaders in discipleship the congregation needs to carry out its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
New resources for an intergenerational Covenant Discipleship ministry are now available:
Disciples Making Disciples: Guide for Covenant Discipleship Groups and Class Leaders, by Steven W. Manskar is for pastors, Covenant Discipleship group members, and class leaders. It provides information to help you organize the ministry, form groups, write a covenant, lead a meeting, support groups so they help the congregation live out its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The book also describes the office of class leaders and how to introduce this powerful disciple-making office to the congregation.
Everyday Disciples: Covenant Discipleship with Youth by Chris Wilterdink is written for pastors, youth leaders, and youth groups with information and planning materials related to Covenant Discipleship groups with youth and accountability practices. Covenant Discipleship encourages youth to connect with Christ and one another through mutual accountability and support. It encourages a networked support structure for living in the world as Christ followers.
Growing Everyday Disciples: Covenant Discipleship with Children is a formational resource by Melanie C. Gordon, Susan Groseclose, and Gayle Quay that equips adults who serve in ministry with children ages 8-11 to guide children towards a mature faith through everyday acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Covenant Discipleship helps connect children with Jesus Christ and one another through ongoing mutual accountability and support for living in the world as Christ followers. The resource offers leaders in ministry with children suggestions for forming covenants, exploring accountability, evaluations, and a choice of plans to organize, maintain, and evaluate Covenant Discipleship groups with children. This resource also provides a brief background on discipleship, covenants, and society meetings of the Methodist Movement, and can be used as preparation for confirmation.