About Deepening Discipleship

The Deepening Discipleship website has been set up to help Methodists and other Christians grow in discipleship. This fits within the Methodist commitment to become a 'discipleship movement shaped for mission', a church that takes seriously the call to follow Jesus. 

What is Discipleship? 

Although there are many definitions of discipleship, at its most basic discipleship is a response to a call, the call to follow Jesus. Like Matthew at the tax booth, or Peter at his fishing nets, disciples hear the invitation to follow Jesus and choose to respond. The response is enabled by God's own Spirit, who whispers the call into the hearts of all and gives those who respond the power to do so. Discipleship rests on grace, on the gift of God who "desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). 

Since it is God who calls us, discipleship embraces all our lives  - our personal habits and public commitments, our work lives and home lives, our thoughts and our actions. There is nothing that we do, and no part of who we are, that is beyond the call of Jesus. God stakes a claim over every part of our lives.

Discipleship is also a life-long process. We are never 'done' with discipleship, as it involves the ongoing formation of our lives into being like Jesus. While we should hope to deepen our commitment and grow in the grace of loving God and neighbour, this is a journey that continues into eternity.

Discipleship is always a journey with others. Jesus called disciples into a community, a community that acts as 'salt of the earth' and a 'light of the world' (Matthew 5:14-16). Following Jesus' resurrection, the community became the church that shared in prayer, the breaking of bread, and radical hospitality (Acts 2:43-47). Although discipleship is always a personal call, it is never a private one. God calls us to be with others, and so being church is part of following Jesus. 

The Structure of Deepening Discipleship 

The Deepening Discipleship website is framed around three key sections: spiritual practices (graceful discipleship), scripture (scriptural discipleship), and evangelism (confident discipleship). A further section explores the role of small groups in discipleship formation, while Martyn Atkins' booklet 'Discipleship and the People Called Methodists' is also available for free download. We hope that the website can help you live a discipleship that is whole-life, life long, and world-transforming.

DD Spiritual Practices iconSpiritual Practices (graceful discipleship)

Spiritual Practices describe those activities that Christians pursue to draw closer to God and one another. They are also described as 'Graceful Discipleship', since - in John Wesley's terms - many of these practices are 'Means of Grace', ways of opening our lives to the goodness and presence of God. 

Four key categories provide umbrellas for the different spiritual practices

DD Devotion iconDevotion DD Worship iconWorship
DD Evangelism iconCompassion  (reconciling discipleship) DD Just Living iconJust Living  (hopeful discipleship)

These embrace public and personal practices that include 'vertical' dimensions (loving God through devotion and worship) and 'horizontal' dimensions (loving others through compassion and just living). 

DD Scripture iconScripture  (scriptural discipleship)

Scripture refers to the sixty-six canonical books of the Bible through which Christians believe God speaks. Scripture is foundational for discipleship, because through it we learn what it means to live as a follower of Jesus in the way of the cross. We learn how to orientateourstory withinGod'sstory.

Many of the resources within the 'Scripture' area of the website were developed in 2011, when the Methodist Church supported the Biblefresh initiative. Since Scripture is ongoing 'bread for the journey', however, a number of other resources will continue to be added to this area of the website. 

DD Evangelism iconEvangelism (confident discipleship)

A key part of the calling of the Methodist Church is 'to make more followers of Jesus Christ', and this section provides a variety of resources to help explore ideas and practices of evangelism.

Evangelism is about sharing the gift of life given to us in Christ, and we hope to provide a framework for understanding evangelism and offer some ideas for encouraging you in its practice. 

DD Small Groups iconSmall Groups

Small groups have played a key role in discipleship for Methodists, and inspiration, ideas and resources for small groups can be found here. These included tried and tested material - such as the Step Forward course - as well as a market place of small group resources from across the Methodist church. The work of the Inspire network is also highlighted in this section. 

Discipleship and the People Called Methodists

This free ebook by Martyn Atkins, former General Secretary of the Methodist Church, provides one of the best introductions available to the centrality of discipleship for Methodists. It also sketches a brief history of how discipleship has become a priority for the Methodist Church of Britain today. 

 


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"As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, 'Follow me'. And he got up and followed him." (Matt 9:9)