Monday, December 21, 2009

December Encourager

This article appeared in the December edition of UUMC's Encourager. Since if includes some important statistics on The Pathway to Discipleship, I thought I would post it here:

The end of the year is a strange and wondrous time for me as a pastor, husband, father and follower of Jesus Christ. I tend to feel a bit overwhelmed by the confluence of activities and emotions. There are all the things that go with the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and The New Year: decorations, travel, family, presents, parties, etc. Then there are the things that go with the end of the year itself: budgets, paperwork, charge conferences, and reports. Add to that the oddity that the sun is a little less present than usual bringing on workdays that begin before sunrise and end after sunset. This all tends to lead to me being a bit more reflective than usual. Fortunately, the end of the year is a good time to be reflective.

As we come to the end of the year, I have been reflecting on what brought me to University United Methodist Church, the idea of creating a system to help bring people into a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ, a Pathway to Discipleship. At this time last year, we had just rolled-out the pathway, and were beginning to see the first fruits of offering people an intentional way to experience a Jesus Meeting, hear the Jesus Message and discover their Jesus Mission. We were encouraged by the first tentative steps of this new way of looking at the ministry of discipleship. Now, as I look back at 2009, we have even more to be encouraged about.

In my column in December of 2008, I shared that we had 50 people engage in the first phase of the pathway, the meeting phase in which we ask the question, “What is my need for Jesus and what do I do about it?” We were thrilled by that initial response. We are even more thrilled that in 2009 over 180 people have participated in meeting phase offerings: Jesus 101, Alpha and Jesus for Seekers and Skeptics.

The idea of the pathway is for people to continue moving forward from the meeting phase onto the message phase in which we ask the question, “What is the news about Jesus and what do I do about it?” Back in December of 2008, I had no idea what the response would be to the invitation to hear the message of Jesus. Since the inception of the pathway, over 200 people have responded to our invitation go deeper, participating in message phase courses like New Testament Survey: The Message of Jesus, and Disciple Bible Study.

We are even beginning to watch people move into the mission phase in which we ask the question, “What is my call from Jesus and what do I do about it?” People have been listening and discerning in Coach’s Directed Study, on The Walk to Emmaus and in our inaugural class of The Pastor’s Academy.

So, as I look back, I am always looking forward. The idea of the Pathway to Discipleship is really striking a chord with our new members. People are hungry for a deep and meaningful relationship with God and are searching for clear guidance about how to begin a journey. I am excited for them and I am also hopeful for those who have been around for a while. The pathway is not just for new members. It has so much to offer anyone who seeks a deeper walk with God. Maybe it is a chance to review what you believe, to fill in any gaps in your knowledge or understanding of our faith and tradition. Perhaps it an opportunity to become more intentional about your commitment to spiritual growth. It could be that you desire to better articulate your faith to those around you and need a little review to become more comfortable with speaking your faith. Or maybe you just want to share the excitement of sitting at a table with someone who is hearing about Jesus for the first time or cracking open the Bible for the first time. Maybe you want to be there at the holy moment when someone finally discovers that that God has a call and claim on their life.

Learn more about the Pathway to Discipleship at our next u|connect, Sunday evening, January 24. Register by calling Michael Andres or email Or, jump right into the meeting phase and sign up for Alpha: Pop Culture, Monday nights beginning February 1st. Register by calling the discipleship office or email

Blessings on a joyous and holy celebration of the birth of our savior!


blog comments powered by Disqus