DISCIPLESHIP AT REDEMPTION CITY CHURCH
We are a church that is seeking to join with God in the renewal of all things through the making of disciples and the planting of churches. Discipleship is the word we use for this process of renewal and formation. And discipleship is the primary way Jesus has invited us to participate in the kingdom.
Our mission as a church is to make disciples who make disciples. And not just any kind of disciple, but disciples who devote themselves to God in Christ, Scripture, Prayer, one-another and good-works. In fact, it’s not just our mission, but it’s a command that was given to us as the church. We think is so important that we’re willing to focus in on doing this one thing.
To be clear, we don’t think discipling happens in a book. We think discipling happens in a relationship. However, our aim as a church is to make the kind of disciples Jesus wanted us to make. We’re not trying to make disciples to meet the agenda of some big religious machine, we are trying to make disciples like Jesus did.
Below you will see two sections titled Discipleship Foundations and Life-Long Discipleship which form a pathway toward maturity in Christ. This pathway includes foundational elements for growth in relationship with God and His Church. It forms a trellis of sorts for God to grow you more in the image of Christ and to bear the fruit of the Spirit in your lives.
We are not after perfect disciples, but we are after healthy ones. How do we define healthy disciples? Throughout the New Testament, the apostle Paul continually uses the word, "devotion" when instructing the church as to how they should live in light of the gospel as they strive to live faithfully and fruitfully in the way of Jesus. As we as a church seek to live faithfully and fruitfully, we desire to devote ourselves to the same things.
- God in Christ
Some Resources that Have Framed Our Approach
Here are some of the books that have helped form and build our theology and approach to discipleship.
- Communion with God by John Owen
- You are What You Love by James KA Smith
- Gospel Centered Discipleship by Jonathan Dodson
- Spiritual Formation as if the Church Matters by James Wilhoit
- Keeping the Heart by John Flavel
- Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
JESUS SAID, "FOLLOW ME"
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. MATTHEW 4:18-20
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. MATTHEW 16:24
Jesus’ seemingly simple invitation to his disciples is follow me. The power of the words, or the details of their lives up to that moment, or what they had witnessed in Jesus’ life, something stirred them in those moments and they answered His invitation by doing just what he asked.
They followed Him, hearing about the Kingdom of God, eating meals, going to weddings, attending synagogue, visiting friends, sleeping on boats, hiking through grain fields, witnessing miracles, asking questions and on and on. It is important that Jesus said “follow me” and didn’t merely say “listen to me” or “read this and get back to me” or “meet me here once a week I’ll have coffee, upbeat worship music, and an interesting talk.”Jesus’ invitation was and still is for us to walk with Him in deep relational intimacy, coming to know the power of the Gospel that forgives and heals and fills us with God’s Spirit. We are invited to follow Jesus and learn His way.
following Jesus is a life-long journey. This section is designed to build a healthy foundation on which life-long discipleship can be built.
Grab an RCC Bible Reading Plan. There is no growth as a follower of Jesus without time in scripture and so this is a great place to start.
Join a Community Group. CGs are the fertile soil of community, bible study, prayer, care, and mission, in which your faith will grow.
Join an RCC Volunteer Team. Serving Christ's church along side fellow believers is a great way to build relationships and cultivate a posture of service that imitates our Savior.
- Take a listen to the Abide Sermon Series that took place early in 2017. These sermons lay a foundation for what it means to be a Christian "in Christ". The series also covers what it means to live out God's call on your life to be devoted to God in Christ, Scripture, Prayer, One-Another, and Good Works.
- Pick up a copy of Multiply this Sunday. Multiply is a book designed as a simple resource that you can use to begin making disciples. This book is available for free during our Sunday Gathering.
For a more detailed look at how to use the Multiply Material, scroll to the bottom of this page.
This section builds off the previous. The aims of these practices are to develop life-long practices of communing with God.
Following Jesus is not a life we get to live in a vacuum, free of powerful influences. It is a contested path of obedience against many of the dominant cultural narratives of our time. The directional influence of our world and often our own hearts is not postured toward being like Jesus. We may not consciously think about being formed by our surroundings, but the cultural liturgies of the world disconnected from God are strong. Many voices in our world give us more than permission to obsess about ourselves, they make it an expected way of life.
“Because our hearts are oriented primarily by desire, by what we love, and because those desires are shaped and molded by the habit forming practices of [modern consumerism] - the liturgies of the mall and market - that shape our imaginations and how we orient ourselves to the world. Embedded in them is a common set of assumptions about the shape of human flourishing, which becomes an implicit telos, or goal, of our own desires and actions. That is, the visions of the good life embedded in these practices become surreptitiously embedded in us through our participation in the rituals and rhythms of these institutions...” JAMES K.A. SMITH
Life as a disciple of Jesus in the midst of these powerful forces will require counter- formation. It will require new liturgies and habit forming shared rhythms that help us towards the greater telos of walking with Jesus and seeing His Kingdom come in our lives and in the world. Our behavior so often defaults to our habits and our habits are hard to change. We need grace, abiding in the love of Jesus, the help of the Holy Spirit at each step, and a radical commitment to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
We are called not just to change at the level of our ideas so that we can think Christian thoughts—we are invited to change at the level of our daily habits, our outward actions of loving obedience. For many of us this will require an intentional process of counter- formation. Here are a few things we would recommend for that process:
After everything they had been through it must have come as a shock to the closest friends and followers of Jesus to find out after His resurrection that He was leaving. Not only that —He was insisting that it was a very good thing for him to leave. Jesus said that after He left that the Spirit of God would come and fill those who believed in and followed Him. His instructions were that the disciples, being filled with the Holy Spirit, were to continue his relational movement of transformation, discipleship. This was how the movement of Jesus would go on. His friends and followers would go and invite others into what He had invited them into. They were to announce salvation and baptize those who received it, and then teach them to walk as Jesus had walked. Jesus promised that His power and presence would always accompany this discipleship movement as it grew. Everyone who now hears the invitation of salvation in Jesus and responds enters into this process of discipleship.
Purpose of Discipleship Groups
The purpose of Discipleship Groups is to hammer the gospel into our heart until the grace of God determines who you are. In these groups will be uncomfortably honest about our struggles because we love Jesus and hate sin. We will abandon our “just me and God” attitude that has left us isolated, ignorant and immature. We allow others into our brokenness because it pushes us to depend on the gospel. We will get serious about God’s Word. We will expect and experience the Spirit’s transforming us through Truth. We will pray for friends who do not yet love Jesus and see God save them as we purposefully involve them into our lives.
How Discipleship Groups Work
Discipleship Groups are for those who are willing to grow. They are simple, but hard. They take commitment and discipline. This is for people who desire to seriously move forward in repentance, faith, and joyful obedience to Christ. Groups are for 2-3 same gender people only, for intimacy and time. When there is a fourth person, you multiply. There is no leader. Groups meet once a week, outside other gatherings, for no more than an hour and do three things:
Rhythm of Life: Cultivating Unforced Rhythms of Grace
For thousands of years, men and women have been intentionally ordering their lives to do life with God. At Redemption City Church, we will join them as we each craft a personal rhythm of life.
A rhythm of life is a description of the life we long to live and the way we will live that life. A rhythm begins with a description of the life we long for in our deepest desires. With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we want to explore our surface desires (success, money, to be liked by everyone, etc.) and follow them like a trail of breadcrumbs to our deepest longings, to find our true home in God. Because a rhythm of life involves our whole selves and every area of our lives, we will craft our description using four relationships. What we want to be true in our relationship with God, self, others, and the world.
- First Step: In order to begin crafting a description of the life you long for, spend some time reflecting on the questions in the document below. Use them as a guide to explore your desires in each relationship. Find a space where you can be present to God in this exercise. Take a couple deep breaths. Remember that in Christ, God is closer than the air we breathe, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and reflections.
- Second Step: If our actual lives are going to align with our God-given desires, we must be formed by God into the people we were created to be. Jesus tells us the life we desire is lived from the inside out. This is why we need the disciplines. The spiritual disciplines are practices that open us up to the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit. They help us cultivate an awareness of and partnership with the presence of God in our everyday lives. The disciplines themselves don’t transform us, but they open us to the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit. Use the document below to ask God to guide you to the spiritual disciplines that will open you to the presence of the Holy Spirit for your formation in the desires in the first document.
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
- Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
- Conformed to His Image by Kenneth Boa
Family Discipleship Guide
A fellow Acts 29 Church recently preached a sermon series on Family Discipleship. Along with the sermon series, they created an awesome Family Discipleship Guide. It’s a great resource to equip parents and adults in leading their family. It’s simple and incredibly practical. We personally love it and wanted to share it with you all.
additional Resources for Growth
RTS on iTunes: Reformed Theological Seminary features full courses with everything you need, all within the new iTunes U app. Access free lectures for nearly every RTS virtual course.
Ligonier Connect: Ligonier Connect provides interactive online courses for growing Christians. Study the Bible, theology, philosophy, church history, apologetics, and more with access to an ever-expanding library of courses and learning tracks. Learn actively by engaging in community discussions, quizzes, and practical exercises.
Porterbrook Learning: Porterbrook courses teach Christians to live in the light of the bible story at the heart level in the context of community on mission to the world.
More Coming Soon....
Using the Multiply BOOK
Using the Multiply Material
After Jesus rose from the grave, He left His followers with a simple command: “Go into all the world and make disciples” (see Matt. 28:19). The church should be known for this. If we are going to call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ, we should be making disciples.
But most Christians today are not known for making disciples. We have developed a culture where a minister ministers and the rest of us sit back and enjoy “church” from a comfortable distance. This is not what God intends for His church. Every Christian is called by God to minister. You are called to make disciples.
Multiply is designed as a simple resource that you can use to begin making disciples. Our prayer is that it will give you the confidence you need to step out in faith and disciple the people whom God has placed in your life.
Using This Material
The goals of the Multiply material are to help you understand the Scripture and to give you the tools to disciple others in this process. We have a responsibility to grow in our love and service to God and others. This is what it means to be the church. We are not merely responsible for our own spiritual well-being; we are called to minister to the people around us, teaching them to obey all the things that Jesus commands.
For this reason, there are two guidelines we ask you to follow when using this material. Obviously, we can’t force you to use this curriculum in a specific way, but it’s good for you to know the heart behind Multiply.
1. Teach what you learn. This material is not meant to be read, but to be taught. There are plenty of other Bible studies you can do if you just want to absorb more information. The emphasis of Multiply is to get you in the habit of passing on the knowledge you gain.
2. Share life, not just information. The Multiply process is meant to be highly relational. True discipleship involves deep relationships. Jesus didn’t simply lead a weekly Bible study. He lived life with His disciples and taught through actions as well as words. While this requires a much deeper commitment, it is the only way to truly make disciples.
God wants us to live, serve, and process truth in the context of a community. You will encounter many difficult questions and life-changing truths in the weeks ahead. Working together with other people will be invaluable as you seek to sort out what the Bible is saying and how God wants that truth to play out in your life.
Discipleship by definition requires a leader and followers. This material is designed for a leader and a disciple to work through together. This doesn’t mean that the leader needs to be old and completely mature, or that the disciple needs to be a full-fledged novice. We’re all at varying stages of maturity, and we all need the people around us to help guide us toward Christlikeness. But ideally, you will either lead another person through this material or be guided through it by a more mature Christian. The goal is that once you’ve walked through the material, you can turn around and guide someone else through it. In fact, you are encouraged to guide others as you are learning. Don’t wait until you have completed it all before teaching others what you learn.
God wants us to be talking about Him all throughout the week. Discipleship is all about living life together rather than just one structured meeting per week. However, it’s shocking how quickly time gets away from us, so it’s good to establish at least one regular meeting time each week. Without a little bit of structure, our good intentions often don’t result in action. At the core of the Multiply material are weekly sessions, which involve study guides and videos.
Weekly Study Guide
Every week you will work through a session of the study guide. These study guides will help you reflect on biblical truths and how those truths should shape your life. Some of the sessions focus on key concepts related to discipleship—what it means to be a disciple, how the Bible is meant to be studied, how we help the people around us live in obedience to Jesus, etc. Other sessions focus on important biblical concepts and major developments in the biblical storyline—creation, the fall, God’s covenant with Abraham, the life and death of Jesus Christ, etc. In each of these sessions you will read sections of Scripture and think through the truths presented and their implications for your life and ministry. The goal is to understand what the Bible is saying and allow that truth to transform your thought process and lifestyle.
Each study-guide session includes a number of questions that will challenge you to think about the material you have covered. These questions can also be used to structure the time you spend meeting with your disciple(s)/discipler(s). When you work through the study guide on your own, you can read through the material and answer the questions. When you meet with your partner(s), however, you can simply jump from one question to the next, sharing your answers and addressing any other thoughts or questions your study raised. If you are taking someone else (or a small group) through this material, don’t feel any pressure to know more than everyone else. Knowledge isn’t the point. Instead, start a discussion on the material in the study guides (this is where the questions come in handy). We all “know” things that have no practical bearing on our lives, so the more you can make your discussion practical and applicational, the better.
Each of these weekly sessions is available for free download at multiplymovement.com so that you can take as many people through this material as possible without putting a financial strain on anyone.
Each session also includes a video (roughly five minutes long). You can find these videos here on the website. The videos are designed for the leaders. If you are guiding another person through the material, the videos will coach you on how to truly “disciple” someone through these truths. Ideally, you will first work through the study guide session and answer all the questions. You may want to print a copy of the lesson or write your answers in a separate notebook. Then you will watch the video and take notes on how you want to guide your disciple(s) through the session. (It shouldn’t be problematic if your disciple wants to watch the videos as well, but the videos are directed toward the leaders.)
Structuring Your Weekly Meetings
Each person will be approaching this material from a unique position and in a unique setting. So structure your weekly meetings according to your specific needs and restraints. If you are leading your meetings, be sure to spend time talking through the material you covered for that week. The questions in the study guide sessions are designed to guide your discussion, but you may come up with a number of other important issues to address.
As important as covering the material is, make sure that you don’t stop there. God’s Word is meant to change our lives; James says that if all we do is hear the Word but never put it into practice, then we are deceiving ourselves (James 1:22). In many ways, it’s better to not know His commands than to know and ignore them. Don’t fall into the trap of studying the Bible without doing what it says. Take time to share prayer requests, discuss personal sins and struggles, and hold each other accountable to living out the truth of God’s Word.
What You’re Working Toward
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we learn from Him, fellowship with Him, and obey everything He commands us. We study the Bible to learn about who God is, who we are, and what God is doing in our world. The Bible compels us to join God in what He is doing in and around us. Studying the Bible is important, but the goal is never knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
As you work through this material, you should be looking to change. Being a disciple of Jesus means that we are being transformed into His image. God wants to change us so much that it intrigues others. This gives us the opportunity to tell them about the God who is transforming us. Teaching others about Christ is essential to being one of Jesus’s disciples. As we teach others to love and obey Jesus, we are fulfilling His command to make disciples. Your goal should be to train up other followers of Jesus who are even more committed, talented, and equipped than you are. Whether you guide others through this material or use some other means to teach them to be followers of Jesus, make it your goal to spend your life raising up followers who will give everything for the glory of God.