Congregation at Duke Chapel

Thoughts on Discipleship

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Thoughts on Discipleship and Discipleship Ministry in the Congregation

presentation at Adult Forum by
Michael Larbi, Pastoral Assistant for Discipleship
November 3, 2019


The Congregation at Duke Chapel
Discipleship Ministry Consultation
Summary of Outputs
26th October 2019

This document is a summary of the output of meetings of the Discipleship Subcommittee of the Education Committee, and ongoing consultation with individuals and groups in the congregation. Three objectives that have guided this work so far:

  • Define discipleship and conceptualize what it might look like for the Congregation
  • Explore tools for intentional discipleship (including models)
  • Develop the Congregation's Discipleship Model and Strategy
    • premise: members are at different stages of spiritual growth and age demographic
    • motivation: what feeds, what motivates, what challenges members
  1. Discipleship Definition
    Discipleship involves:
    • living out our faith
    • growing in our faith
    • inviting people into intentional discipleship within and outside the Congregation
    • growing in size as a congregation
    • growing in friendship and relationship with, knowledge of, and support of one another
    • helping each other grow, and
    • growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18)
  2. Purpose of Discipleship Ministry at the Congregation
    The Discipleship Ministry fosters growth in grace, faith, and knowledge of Christ, individually and in community.
  3. Emerging Consensus on Discipleship Model
    The emerging model from Subcommittee and consultation meetings is intentional discipleship small groups that meet regularly to foster growth in our lives, individually and as a community (as stated in the purpose above). These are not Bible Study or Book study groups but members of such a group would meet to share challenges and joys of daily Christian living, pray together, and do life together in mutual support.
  4. Intentional Small Group Models Under Consideration
    These include,
    • Wesleyan Class Meeting
      Weekly 1-hour meeting of 5-12 members. Members ask each other questions, "how is it with your soul?" being one such question that indicates the flavour of the weekly discussion.
    • Covenant Groups
      Some churches have small groups in which members covenant with each other to meet and share their lives together on a regular basis. might not be as structured as the Wesleyan Class Meeting. They vary from church to church in their structure and content.
    • Spiritual Formation Groups
      This is the practice that every Duke Divinity School student goes through in their first year. Each student is put in a spiritual formation group (8-10 members) and an ordained minister leads the group weekly for one academic year. Focus is on spiritual disciplines and formation through group interaction.
    • Spiritual Direction Groups
      In discussion with Nell Noonan, it became clear that such small groups might actually be offering mutual spiritual direction. Might that be the focus of the Congregation's small groups? What would be needed to implement such a model well?
    • Discipleship Circles
      These are small groups that can have multiple purposes beyond the notions of the stated purpose above. They might involve groups focusing on both discipleship and other specific areas of interest (e.g. climate change, racism).
  5. Implementation Strategy
    The discussions on small group models are continuing and would be concluded when the Subcommittee meets in November. Once that is done, an implementation strategy would be discussed and commended to the Education Committee and Vision Team.