New Disciples Covenant

At the beginning of the month (June 8th) the church celebrated its “birthday” on and we welcomed in two new disciples who made a membership covenant.  My congregation and another partnered to participate in a joint confirmation class.  We had six students in total.  This was a really neat celebration because it was the culmination of a lot of hard work from the confirmands.  They had been in class for a few months learning about the foundations of the Christian faith.  They had conversation with each other, their parents, sponsors, and wrote a creeds about what they have come to know their faith to mean to them (watch the video for their creeds)

 

The hope for the New Disciples

Time and time again we told the students that the goal of the class was not to give them all of the church answers, but the tools to grow in their faith.  Answers only get you so far and build a great looking facade, but once the nice and neat “sunday school” answers begin to face the pressure of real life the facade begins to crack fairly easily.  Our hope is that with the tools that they have been equipped with and the care and nurturing of a church family these young people can continue to grow into the people God has in store for them to be.  After all, they cannot rely on the faith of their parents, pastors or friends when things get tough.  The need to have the tools and resources to grow and claim their own personal ministry.

 

The New Disciples Covenant

In the service we ask the students a couple of questions about placing their trust in Jesus and turning from the glamor of evil.  These questions are a way for them to make a public statement of their own faith that is dependant on no one else.  This is unlike when they were baptized as infants and didn’t really have a say in the matter.  This is in part because the Methodist church understands baptism as a moment where we acknowledge God claiming us into the family through grace.

Confirmation on the other hand is a time where we are able to claim God and Jesus as our personal Lord and savior.  So the students then make a covenant with God and with the Church that they will continue down the path of discipleship.  An important part is that the new disciples covenant is not a contract. What this means is that if one party goofs up, the other is not released from the agreement.  So if the student falls a way for a time, the church still committed to caring and loving that person.  And I would add, if the church messes up, as has been known to happen, the individual shows grace rather than walks away from the church.

 

My Hope

I have been doing confirmation classes for a while now and hundreds of students have come through the ranks making similar covenants.  As these new disciples begin a journey of faith I would hope that the church doesn’t forget about them.  Too many times confirmation feels like graduation from church when the reality is that it is the beginning of full incorporation into the church body.  I would hope that young people are able to see that they are a vital part of the church right now and not just when they become their parent’s age.  I would hope that chruch church would be open enough to see the wealth of wisdom and energy that our young people bring to the church as they see things in a different light.  I love it when I see congregations actively discipling young people in worship and giving them ownership over ministry.  I am seeking ways to give more authentic leadership/ownership to youth in my congregation now.

The bottom line is that when I see these new disciples making these covenants I hope they are not empty commitment, but commitments that will allow us as individuals to grow in our faith and strengthen the church universal.

 

 

life together

Today’s post represents the first “check-in” post of the blog reboot, and I have been mindful of the way that we are all doing life together.  Throughout my personal study this week, and many interactions I have been drawn back time and time again to the fact that we are all in the same boat and working toward very similar goals.

As we look at the way that the “fruit” (a church way of saying tangible proof) of our growth is ripening, we need to look no further than to the way that we treat one another.  If we want to see the way way we love God, we have to look no further than the way that we treat one another.

Scholar William Barclay was reflecting on a passage of scripture from 1 Corinthians 3:4-9 where Paul is reminding others that we don’t follow other apostles, but God.  We are all co-laborers in the work that has been set before us.  So Barclay wrote of this passage:

This is extremely significant because it means that you can tell what a man’s relations with God are by looking at his relations with his fellow men. If he is at variance with his fellow men, if he is a quarrelsome, argumentative, trouble-making creature, he may be a diligent church attender, he may even be a church office-bearer, but he is not a man of God.”William Barclay

The way that we are tending to others is a very good indicator of our heart for God and the two-fold love commandment.  Through our loving God and one another we are more fully able to live out that call on our lives.  The trouble is that when we are working hard at the path we have set before us, we forget that others are earnestly doing the same thing.  When the two paths cross we are quick to forget that we are meant to do life together.  This “amnesia of community” is especially strong in the western society where we jump ship when the next promotion comes, a higher level youth sports team opens a spot or it gets really hard walking the path you are currently on.

In doing life together we are better able to understand the struggles of others and gain a more clear understanding of what God has in store for the whole community.

 

When I forget we are called to do life together:

  1. I am easily exhausted when people don’t see things THE way I do
  2. I see others as a means to an end rather than someone who is of sacred worth just as I am.
  3. We are never going fast enough
  4. I don’t care about anything besides getting my part done

 

When a perspective of doing life together is forgotten I am also less creative and feel more like a cog in the “productivity machine.”

 

So, now time for the practical.

What can we do to keep proper perspective of doing life together?

  • Read Howard Thurman’s book Jesus and the disinherited (buy here on Amazon)
  • Read Detrich Bonhoffer’s book Life Together (buy here on Amazon)
  • Read through the Book of Acts
  • Help someone out with a project of theirs that has nothing to do with yours
  • Slow down and take a walk at the someone else’s pace.
  • Take a life together lesson from the band The Alternate Routes–