Core Values of Discipleship
This past week we were invited to an awards ceremony for our 9-year old granddaughter Zadie. Zadie had been invited to a Wednesday night Bible study at a local church by one of her friends, and she grew to love it. She would ask me, a retired and still-working UMC pastor, if I knew some of her memory verses and other wonderful things she was learning. At the ceremony she was celebrated along with a lot of other kids who had memorized Scripture and concepts. This is a local Assemblies of God church, and they were using the King James Bible. It was a fantastic evening, that these children were loved and encouraged and challenged. They didn’t get the award unless they had done the work.
I talked with the pastor afterwards, and he had served this faith community for 30 years, he had seen many of the young leaders in the church grow up, get married, have children. When he learned I was a retired UMC pastor he asked if I had been part of the group that moved every two years or so. When he was a kid growing up in West Texas, his parents told him that the Methodist pastor’s children would be moving soon, so to keep that in mind as he became friends with them. We know too many pastors, too many pastor’s families, that moved so often without the chance of putting down roots.
Yet I wondered if this pastor had friends he could confide in, people who were not of his “flock”.
I entered seminary at 45 years old, and I had been mentored in discipleship relationships for many years before then. With a few sterling exceptions, most of my old friends are still from this time before, or people I served with in churches where we met in authentic covenant groups, much like our Wesleyan bands. The friends from the last few years I have met in band.
From our core values of discipleship in the Inspire Movement: Am I making close spiritual friendships? Am I sharing the ups and downs of my spiritual life? Am I giving and receiving guidance? And I growing in the fruit of the Spirit? Am I developing my spiritual gifts? Am I confessing my sin?
Am I willing to be open, to be vulnerable, to be and receive a true friend of trust and discernment? I am, and I am blessed by the bands I am in, where I can share where I am seeing God in my life, and be willing to be guided by prayerful reflection of others.
Most men I know don’t have deep, spiritual friendships. Most pastors I know do not have friends like this. Holding yourself apart is a way of distancing ourselves from others and from God. We hold ourselves apart, but we don’t have to. We have an opportunity with the principles of the Inspire Movement to find the “open door” the Spirit revealed to John in Revelation 3:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name…” (Rev. 3: 7-8)
The Lord working in our lives is that open door, an open door to the reality of our lives, the reality of the love of God. We are able to pass through that open door with the help of others, with the guidance of spiritual friendships like we form in band and in house fellowships and the like. My granddaughter is forming spiritual friendships, memorizing the Word of God and coming to a deeper relationship with Jesus, all because someone stepped out and asked her. I am doing the same because someone asked me about Inspire, about band. It is a good thing to see the Lord at work in our lives.
What do you think?
More information on the Inspire Movement can be found at https:inspiremovement.org