Five Expectations of Discipleship
Years ago when I was pastoring the Oak Ridge United Methodist Church, I would be regularly invited to the Rotary Club in Greensboro as a guest. I found it interesting how clearly they laid out the expectations of a Rotarian. As I was driving home from one of the events I was struck by how unashamedly they defined their expectations for membership and how hesitant the church would often be to name the expectations of membership and discipleship. In each church I have served since, we have discussed the expectations for discipleship. What does it mean to be a member of God’s church, the Body of Christ? What are the expectations?
We have named five expectations of discipleship or membership. We share these at our monthly orientation meetings, known as Meet Weddington. It is helpful for each of us to be reminded periodically.
1. Worship – When in town and healthy, we worship God together. Worship is a part of who we are as Christians. The people of God join together in the house of God to worship and honor God (Psalm 150). Worship is about community: the Christian community gathers to worship, to pray together, and to grow in our faith.
2. Grow – We become a part of a Life Group, Bible study, class, or group to grow in faith and our walk with Jesus Christ. Jesus went to the synagogue “as was His custom” (Luke 4:16). Synagogue was the place where the scripture would be read and discussed. It was a place of learning, discerning, and growing in the knowledge and love of God and neighbor. We join with other Christians to grow together.
3. Mission – We are called to love our neighbors. We encourage every Christian to be involved in some mission emphasis at least annually. Jesus had a special place in His heart for the poor, marginalized, outcast, and lost. We are called to be the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus Christ in our world. We offer so many opportunities to love and serve others and believe this is vital in our Christian walk.
4. Talents and Abilities – All of us have talents and abilities that can be used for the glory of God. Some have the gift of teaching or leading. Others have the gift of administration. Some are gifted in finance and can help the church to be faithful stewards of the gifts offered for ministry and mission. Some have the gift of compassion. Some are gifted in human resources and help us care for our ministry teams. Some love to send cards to those who are sick. Some feel called to reach out to the unchurched. Some have the gift of hospitality. The list goes on. All of us, yes all of us, have some God-given gift, talent, or ability that we can use for the glory of God.
5. Proportional Giving with the Goal of Tithing – Stewardship is a spiritual discipline and an act of worship. Our offering is a recognition that everything we have and are is a gift to us from God. We are so blessed. We are called by God to offer our first-fruits and our tithe to God for the work of His kingdom (Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22-29). Our offering is an act of gratitude, an act of obedience, and an act of covenant with God. The church is then called to be faithful stewards of that offering, using it in ministry and mission in the name of and on behalf of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I encourage each of us to reflect on these five expectations. Are we living the life of Christian discipleship? God loves us so much and proved that by giving His only begotten Son to live among us to teach of God’s love and kingdom, to die that we might be forgiven, and to rise that we may have eternal life. God has promised to always be with us. Discipleship is our faithful response to this God who “so loves the world” (John 3:16).
In ministry together,
Rev. Dr. Terry L. Moore, Senior Pastor