About Deepening Discipleship
The Deepening Discipleship website has been set up to help
Methodists and other Christians grow in discipleship. This fits
within the Methodist commitment to become a 'discipleship movement
shaped for mission', a church that takes seriously the call to
What is Discipleship?
Although there are many definitions of discipleship, at its most
basic discipleship is a response to a call, the
call to follow Jesus. Like Matthew at the tax booth, or Peter at
his fishing nets, disciples hear the invitation to follow Jesus and
choose to respond. The response is enabled by God's own Spirit, who
whispers the call into the hearts of all and gives those who
respond the power to do so. Discipleship rests on grace, on the
gift of God who "desires everyone to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).
Since it is God who calls us, discipleship embraces all
our lives - our personal habits and public
commitments, our work lives and home lives, our thoughts and our
actions. There is nothing that we do, and no part of who we are,
that is beyond the call of Jesus. God stakes a claim over every
part of our lives.
Discipleship is also a life-long process. We
are never 'done' with discipleship, as it involves the ongoing
formation of our lives into being like Jesus. While we should hope
to deepen our commitment and grow in the
grace of loving God and neighbour, this is a journey that
continues into eternity.
Discipleship is always a journey with others.
Jesus called disciples into a community, a community that acts as
'salt of the earth' and a 'light of the world' (Matthew 5:14-16).
Following Jesus' resurrection, the community became the church that
shared in prayer, the breaking of bread, and radical hospitality
(Acts 2:43-47). Although discipleship is always a personal call, it
is never a private one. God calls us to be with others, and so
being church is part of following Jesus.
The Structure of Deepening Discipleship
The Deepening Discipleship website is framed around three key
sections: spiritual practices (graceful discipleship), scripture
(scriptural discipleship), and evangelism (confident discipleship).
A further section explores the role of small groups in discipleship
formation, while Martyn Atkins' booklet 'Discipleship
and the People Called Methodists' is also available for free
download. We hope that the website can help you live a discipleship
that is whole-life, life long, and world-transforming.
Spiritual Practices describe those activities that Christians
pursue to draw closer to God and one another. They are also
described as 'Graceful Discipleship', since - in John Wesley's
terms - many of these practices are 'Means of Grace', ways of
opening our lives to the goodness and presence of God.
Four key categories provide umbrellas for the different
Living (hopeful discipleship)
These embrace public and personal practices that include
'vertical' dimensions (loving God through devotion and worship) and
'horizontal' dimensions (loving others through compassion and just
Scripture refers to the sixty-six canonical books of the Bible
through which Christians believe God speaks. Scripture is
foundational for discipleship, because through it we learn what it
means to live as a follower of Jesus in the way of the cross. We
learn how to orientateourstory withinGod'sstory.
Many of the resources within the 'Scripture' area of the website
were developed in 2011, when the Methodist Church supported the
Biblefresh initiative. Since Scripture is ongoing 'bread for the
journey', however, a number of other resources will continue to be
added to this area of the website.
A key part of the calling of the Methodist Church is 'to make
more followers of Jesus Christ', and this section provides a
variety of resources to help explore ideas and practices of
Evangelism is about sharing the gift of life given to us in
Christ, and we hope to provide a framework for understanding
evangelism and offer some ideas for encouraging you in its
Small groups have played a key role in discipleship for
Methodists, and inspiration, ideas and resources for small groups
can be found here. These included tried and tested material - such
as the Step Forward course - as well as a market place of small
group resources from across the Methodist church. The work of the
Inspire network is also highlighted in this section.
Discipleship and the People Called
ebook by Martyn Atkins, former General Secretary of the
Methodist Church, provides one of the best introductions available
to the centrality of discipleship for Methodists. It also sketches
a brief history of how discipleship has become a priority for the
Methodist Church of Britain today.