What does it mean to be a Follower of Jesus? by Tom Mitchell

Submitted by Tom Mitchell for the Discipleship Team

Short answer: Paying attention to Jesus and living our lives in accordance with Jesus.

This will mean different things to different people, but there are some commonalities the Christian tradition has found over the centuries.

First, Jesus calls us, not vice versa.  Jesus offered a challenge to nearly everyone he met. Following Jesus is far from being without cost.  Jesus’ call does not presuppose one holds to a creed or “right doctrine.”

Our opportunity is to respond and to consider the cost

Second, to follow Jesus today, we need to know about Jesus.   Examination of the Gospels (and to see them in context and with the rest of the Bible) is essential.

Third, Jesus journeyed about and engaged with both insiders and outsiders in society.   We are called to love our neighbor, and draw a very wide circle to comprise our neighbors.  We are called out into our community and the world, to engage, and serve.

Fourth, Jesus challenged the inequities and hypocrisy in society.  Likewise we are called to work for justice.

Fifth, Jesus did not propose to do this alone, but gathered a loving fellowship, for mutual support and for instruction.  We are called to do likewise.  Often our loving fellowship is called “church.”

Sixth, following Jesus is a life journey, not a goal to be attained.  We will not all follow the same paths, though there will be some commonality in our journeys.   

Nevertheless, the process is one of growth.  There will always be Next Steps.

Discipleship Paths at University UMC

We endeavor to grow in following Jesus through various opportunities:

  •     Education and learning
  •     Listening / spiritual development / prayer and meditation
  •     Service in the local community and wider and within the church
  •     Fellowship and mutual support
  •     Generosity

The Discipleship Team supports these endeavors through

  •     The LOGOS Class on Sunday mornings at 9:30 AM
  •     Offering small discussion group opportunities
  •     Offering a guided Path to begin Next Steps in spiritual growth

The Path a process of individual and corporate growth.  We will not accomplish all things at all times; nor will we all follow the same paths.

The ideas of a “path” and “next steps” are concepts that help us always grow in our following, but in a way that focuses us in a fruitful and realistic manner.  We work intentionally on developing in one or two ways at a time.

Our paths will vary; our paths may often cross.  Following Jesus is a journey, not a destination.

A Discipleship Path of Next Steps at University UMC

You may engage in from various starting points.  This includes participating in a Be You. Be Loved. Belong class, a small group experience, or directly enter into it.

We each have various talents: something we are good at. We have various interests: things we enjoy and desire to do.  We also are given gifts by God, to be employed in God’s and Jesus’s work here and now on earth.

Following Jesus entails paying close attention to our gifts.  Perhaps those follow our interests and talents but sometimes not.

On the Path, you will work on recognizing your gifts.

You then consider what it means to continue to grow in relationship to the UUMC community, and you meet with a coach who is familiar with paths to following Jesus and in particular with the opportunities particular to UUMC and our time and place.

You will discuss your gifts and passions for growth with the coach and select next steps for yourself.  You will be given a personal introduction to the appropriate person at UUMC who can help you move forward with your choices.

For many, this will mean Next Steps commitments to

  • Actively attend worship
  • Connect with others in a group for friendship and support
  • Serve in a UUMC ministry, an outside volunteering opportunity, or within the church
  • Pay attention to God and Jesus through prayer, other spiritual work, and/or learning opportunities

In some cases you can combine two or more of these things in one activity.

A fun part of the process in the coaching interview is creation of a small poster for each participant, sharing about themselves and their spiritual growth steps, with a picture.

These will get displayed in Fellowship Hall, as a way of sharing ourselves and connecting with one another.

Want to participate in the Path,? Contact Tom Mitchell, 314-858-1020