Discipleship at The Fields
Once in a while someone will ask us, “How do you do discipleship at The Fields?” More often than not, when people ask that question what they are really asking is, “What kind of programs do you have for discipleship?” That’s an interesting question and provides us a great opportunity to explain again our clear vision for how discipleship happens at The Fields. Right up front we tell people that we don’t believe discipleship is a program. In fact we hope that everything we do at The Fields is aimed at the goal of making disciples to the glory of God. A disciple is one who has made a commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior, has begun the lifelong journey of following Him and is becoming more and more like Him (Lk. 6:40, Mt. 10:24-25, Rom. 8:29). What we have written below will help you understand our strategy for making disciples.
How are disciples made? Well, obviously it begins when someone hears, understands and is drawn by the Spirit to receive the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel. Essentially this means they admit they are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness, they understand that Jesus’ death on the cross is the only payment for their sin, they repent of their sin, they receive God’s forgiveness, and they trust alone in the finished work of Christ for their right standing before God. At this point they embark on the lifelong journey of following Jesus as both their Lord and Savior. But that’s just the essential beginning place of discipleship. Jesus was very clear that discipleship is a lifelong process for all believers and that it centers on learning and obeying His Word, abiding in our relationship with Him and His bride (the church), and serving Him and others in love. Simply put, disciples have a commitment to Jesus, His Word, His people and service in His name. Let’s look at these in more detail.
Jesus told us to make disciples by teaching people to obey all that He taught (Mt. 28:19-20). So, at The Fields we place a big emphasis on the public preaching/teaching of the Word on Sundays, the study and application of it in our Community Groups (CGs), the speaking of it to one another in love and the living out of it in our daily lives. The Word is our foundation. But discipleship doesn’t end there. We also believe the model Jesus gave for discipleship involves relationships. Disciples are made in the context of healthy community and relationships with one another. Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by our love for one another (Jn. 13:35). As we live life together on the road of following Jesus, abiding in His Word, discipleship happens both naturally and intentionally in the context of these relationships. In these relationships we also serve one another and His church, which also helps us to grow as disciples. All of this happens in our Sunday gatherings, small groups, one on one settings and even more formal programs, but the process and goal remains very simple, helping each other to become more like Jesus. Discipleship is a lot like parenting. Parenting a child to maturity is not something that happens overnight or the result of one good class or seminar. It’s an investment of time over the long haul with a specific destination in mind, becoming like Jesus. Of course in our discipling one another there isn’t the authoritative role that a parent has in a child’s life, but we do see that many times a more mature disciple can be used by God to help a less mature disciple take steps forward.
Now organic is very cool. We like that at The Fields. When discipleship happens in the natural context of gospel centered relationships, wow, it doesn’t get much better than that. In fact, our aim is discipleship through natural and healthy relationships, simply living life on life together centered on Jesus. However, we realize that facilitation is many times required. So, at The Fields we have intentionally placed an emphasis on the Sunday morning gathering (for worship and equipping) and our Community Groups as our more “formal” or “structured” means of discipleship. If someone says, “I’m not being discipled!” our first question is, “Are you regularly
worshipping with us on Sunday mornings and are you in a Community Group?” If you are, then you are being discipled.
However, what many people are asking for when they ask to be “discipled” is to have a friend, mentor or someone to meet with them one on one to help them grow. That can and should be happening within the context of their Community Group. This is not to say we don’t value the informal gatherings and studies or one-to-one relational activities that also promote discipleship. We do value these and we are thankful that they happen organically. We also value things that happen like book clubs, informal Bible studies and gatherings and other ministries that can promote discipleship. But in keeping it simple, the main diet for discipleship at The Fields is Sunday mornings, Community Groups and the godly Christ centered friendships that our people develop with each other. Outside of our regular gatherings, we intentionally don’t want to load up or overwhelm our people with a ton of “programmed” options for more huddle time. We are not convinced that what people need is more information or meetings in addition to what we are already providing. We would do better to live out what we are currently being taught. People only have so much time and we want to leave plenty of space in people’s schedules for organic gatherings (coffee dates, play dates, etc.) that promote discipleship. We also don’t want to pull people away from missional living with unbelievers because they are now so busy with “church meetings” and more Bible studies. Therefore, we very intentionally don’t do a ton of additional “programming”. Our aim is for the pastors and their wives to focus on mentoring the CG leaders in their DNA groups (Discipleship thru Nurture and Accountability) and then these very same CG leaders in turn “disciple” the members of their CGs. That is our very simple and straight forward master plan!
We hope this gives you an understanding and appreciation for what the leadership of The Fields aiming at. We are here to bring glory to God by making disciples of all peoples and that’s exactly what we want to encourage.
In His grip,
Pastor David for the Elder Team