June 30, 2014

By Fred Koenig

Making disciples of Jesus Christ is at the core of the mission of the United Methodist Church. But what is a disciple, and how is one made? The Missouri Conference Core Practices Team invited those gathered for Annual Conference to enter into a conversation about discipleship making and Intentional Faith Development on Thursday evening. 
Rev. Kim Jenne explained that the Core Practices Team has been focused on the Five Practices, and has recognized the need for churches to refine their discipleship process. Rev. Chris Dumas reported that 70 percent of churches participating in the Healthy Church Initiative have prescriptions related to intentional faith development. A recent survey of churches revealed several issues related to this: 

All United Methodist Churches carry the same mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Vision statements describe the various individual ways churches relate to this mission. 

To define what a disciple is, the Core Practices Team offered the following scriptures: Discipleship tends to have four components: 
  1. Invitation 
  2. Education
  3. Formation
  4. Mission
During the table discussions, many groups said they have clearer practices related to mission than any other aspects of the church. Jenne said she hopes people leave Annual Conferences realizing they aren’t alone in having difficulty in the disciple making process, but also don’t have too high of expectations in thinking they can make big changes over night.