Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Notes/impressions from Cottage meetings on the nature of discipleship

Here are the notes that Nathan recorded from the five cottage meetings that were conducted over the last two weeks. If you are motivated to respond to any of the comments that people had at these meetings, you can respond in the "comments" section at the end of this post. IF you would like to remain anonymous, you can comment anonymously. Also--the notes are scrambled--they are not in order of when the cottage meeting was held. I hope this motivates further discussion and action in this facet of our church.

Impressions from Cottage meetings

Discipleship involves loyalty, willingness to follow, willingness to help others follow, commitment to giving of oneself,committment. Being motivated to share the gospel. Identifying our gifts and giving them in return to the church, discipleship involves being able to work together and accept one another within the family of faith.

What we need to increase/strengthen/deepen discipleship:
A resurgence of Sunday school, strengthened youth program. Some feel like adults are set in their ways, but youth can still be molded to be disciples.

We need to make a stand in our culture. We are challenged by a culture that doesn't seem to place as much of a value on faith life anymore. We in the church don't value the teachings of our faith anymore. The example of our failure to observe the Sabbath was given as an example.
Question? What would it look like if members of the church made a covenant with one another to observe a real Sabbath on Sunday which would include not going shopping, not patronizing any eating establishments, not working. Instead, Sabbath day would be observed by spending time with family and friends, relaxing and resting, praying, enjoying leisure, etc?
Impression was that we know we need to take Sabbath more seriously, but how are we to do it when we feel so busy? Hmm.

Most members feel that the worship services are motivating, rejuvenating, and attractive to others. We want to share that excitement with our community but how?
Ideas sometimes a sermon series is an easier thing to invite friends and family to. Something pastor has done before is a sermon series on what makes the UMC distinctive.
People seem to appreciate that the sermons are based on the scripture and expand the witness of the scripture.

We need a foundation of knowledge of our stories of faith.

How can we pattern our lives after Jesus if we don't know (like the back of our hand) what Jesus did.

For the UMC to better create disciples, we need stronger leadership. Don't feel compelled by the majority of the clergy. Parish doesn't understand the iteneracy and feel it is a roadblock to making disciples. Big parishes don't have to worry about this as much because they can keep a pastor for more than 3 or 4 years. Small parishes view themselves as having a rotating door, and sense that the community is not attracted to that.

We need to live in a way and challenge each other in a way that shows that we are committed to something that faith makes a difference in a life, it is not just a social club.

We need more accountability within the church. With regard to giving and tithing, we need to be more responsible with the budget of the church. We need a stewardship campaign: building the budget on a pledge.

As members of the church, we need the accountability with one another to know that membership means something. Discipleship means showing up. It means not quitting when we don't agree with something that happens in the church.

Discipleship involves open and honest communication within church.

Discipleship involves speaking the truth in love, building up one another with our words and deeds.

We need to be find ways to make our worship and congregational life appealing to those who do not find church interesting.

Bible Study: we need to be more intentional about focusing on scripture.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading the notes regarding the cottage meetings. It was quite interesting to note that many of these same feelings are shared by the church that I attend (also a small church, in west central Arkansas). Sometimes we feel that we are the only ones having these doubts, misunderstandings, lack of commitment, etc. I guess in some odd way, it is a comfort to know that others go through similiar circumstances. I commend you for working together to address the concerns as a means to understand and mature in Christian discipleship. You have a gifted and compassionate leader in Nathan and while he was with us, he brought to this small and sometimes "insignificant feeling" church, tools and insights that helped us to recognize our gifts as well as our responsibilities as members of the household of God.
    We still struggle...especially in the "commitment" area and in honoring our membership vows to "faithfully participate by our paryers, presence, gifts, and service, but we perservere.