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Fourth Vision Meeting: Intentional Faith Development

posted Oct 7, 2013, 5:39 PM by Uumc Topeka

Intentional Faith Development

 

Oh God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  (Ps 63:1)

 

Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you. (James 4:8a)

 

On September 14, twelve persons gathered for our fourth Vision Meeting. We broke into two groups of six each for two periods of in-depth sharing and discussion and reconvened for sharing with the larger group.

We were reminded that “growth” and “change” are not the same thing! We can change without growing but we can never grow without changing. When growth occurs, change is part of the dynamic. Sometimes, when we resist change, we are stunting our own growth.

The first part of the meeting was spent reviewing the work that had been accomplished through the previous three meetings. Our focus from the beginning has been on the practices of fruitful congregations. There was general consensus that we had made strides in the areas of Radical Hospitality and Passionate Worship, though we identified some things that could still be put into place.

The remainder of the morning was spent focusing on Intentional Faith Development. 

Intentional Faith Development is the commitment to continually grow (going on to perfection) as a Disciple of Jesus Christ. For this purpose, Christians meet together in “Covenant Discipleship Groups” for support and accountability.  One of the reasons for the early spread of Methodism was the strength of its class meetings and bands.  These were the “Covenant Discipleship Groups” of an earlier era. We examined John Wesley’s “Rules” for the bands and agreed that most would be hard-pressed to adhere to them in our own time and culture. And yet, the importance of meeting regularly, with all members of the group present, with all sharing the deepest respect and care for one another, committed to being able to speak honestly with one another with deep love and concern, in order to further the spiritual growth of all, remains a crucial concern for anyone who longs to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Is our relationship with God, with Jesus, and with the Holy Spirit, the most important thing in our lives? If it is we will seek and find others of like heart and mind who will joyfully gather together in covenant discipleship groups so that God might be praised and that we might all grow in grace.   

Those present felt that the many groups we are already involved in (Loving Hands, Sunday School, Mission groups, United Methodist Women, Youth Group and so forth) provide us with many opportunities for fellowship, mission, and ministry, though they do not approach the level of accountability and spiritual growth that covenant discipleship groups do.  We addressed the question as to how we might further implement Covenant Discipleship Groups as a central component of Intentional Faith Development in the life of this church, but there was no real forward movement on this issue.   

We closed with Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.                                              J. Kiefer

 

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