Exploring personal 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.
Discipleship and the People Called Methodists
This short book is about Christian discipleship from a Methodist perspective. It’s a personal account and not an official statement, by Martyn Atkins, former General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain. This book is also available in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Chinese.
Imagine Church - releasing whole-life disciples
More discipleship resources