Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Pattern of Discipleship

Here is a synopsis of the spiritual growth plan that I was inspired to create at Annual Conference this year. I owe a great deal to Rev. David Conley who led a workshop I attended, Rev. Melissa Dodd who is a fantastic collaboration partner, and Kory Wilcox who is rarely ever inside the box.

Please take a look and let me know what you think, does it make sense, will it flow, could it work in a local congregation to help people grow in faith, etc.? Thanks!

A Pattern of Discipleship – A Metaphor for Spiritual Growth

There are 3 Stairways:

*Live – (Worship)
*Grow – (Faith Development, Fellowship)
*Share – (Mission & Service, Hospitality, Generosity)

- Walking up one of the stairways always leads you to the next, like an MC Escher painting.

Living unleashes growth; growing inspires sharing; sharing enables living.

Stairway #1:
*LIVE – People are created in the image of God, so in a sense we are created to worship. Worship of God is the heartbeat of the church.

And spiritual growth doesn’t stop with worship, it begins there. We worship, which then unleashes us to grow, so we turn the corner onto the next stairway:

Stairway #2:
*GROW – The possibilities expand, to Faith Development (growth on a personal level) and Fellowship (growth in relationships). Faith Development and Fellowship are like the head of the body.

Spiritual growth doesn’t stop there; discipleship is a community event. When we experience growth, it inspires us to share, which is the next ascending stairway:

Stairway #3:
SHARE – The possibilities expand even more, encompassing Generosity (sharing our resources with others), Mission & Service (sharing our time and energy for the sake of those in need), and Hospitality (inviting and welcoming all people). This aspect of spiritual growth comprises the hands and feet of the body.

Sharing leads us naturally back to living, as the pattern of discipleship comes full circle. We find ourselves at the foot of the next stairway, which is the first stairway, and we worship.

*But it is not the same, this time*
This time around, our worship is shaped by the growing and sharing that have preceded it.

And so the pattern of discipleship is a fractal; each smaller piece is the same shape as the whole.

Discipleship is much more than just repeating the same activities over and over again. Spiritual growth means moving up the fractal pattern of the 3 stairways, expanding ever outward as we grow closer to God.

OK - what do you think? Comments are most welcome...


bob said...

It's kind of like whatever we're doing we should ask where is this taking me.

JudyCS said...

Great process! One of the things that I like is that a person can enter the process at anypoint. It might be interesting to consider this process in the light / context of St. Thomas Aquinas' ascending spiral-like image of relationship with God? If I remember correctly, Aquinas' theological understanding of this type of spiritual growth informed Wesley's understanding of sanctifying grace / moving on to perfection. ???