Let’s Make Disciples – The Restoration Project

Sometimes I think if I hear another person announce,

— “We need more discipling in our church! These people have never been taught what it really means to be a Christian. We’ve got to start telling them!”
— Or, “Discipleship – that’s what we are missing and until we get everyone on that page, the church will just go on spinning its wheels.”
— Or, “More Discipleship Groups! That’s the answer, more Discipleship Groups! Let’s get them going right now! Here you go, sign up here.” —

I will just have to scream!

Don’t get me wrong. I am firmly convinced we need to pay attention to discipleship and how folk who want to follow Jesus get a handle on what it entails to be Jesus’ disciple.

It’s just that we might be shouting so loud about discipleship the word is losing its meaning and we really don’t know what we are saying. We are just repeating “pretty” words.

Three weeks back, I wrote about the daily devotional app, Lectio 365 (https://discipleswalk.org/lectio-365-lectio-divina-at-your-fingertips/ ).

I mentioned that the folk who crafted it built it around what they identified as three priorities (to be authentic; to be relational; and to be missional) and six core practices (prayer and worship; creativity; hospitality; justice; mission; and learning).

That is fairly typical of those discipleship programs/methods that have a chance of making an impact on people’s lives. They take seriously the foundation they build on. They not only take it seriously, they make it explicit and clear and offer it in such a way that it can be actualized in one’s daily life. After all, what good is a “mission statement” if it is only a statement with no thought to the mechanics of how the mission is realized?

One Discipleship program that has been around a number of years and has proved worthwhile in a number of settings is, The Restoration Project.

There is a website devoted to the program, http://www.therestorationproject.net/ , and a book by the same name. Actually, there are two websites, the other being, http://www.prayworshipserve.com/ .

You will notice on their home page the mention of seven core practices, Pray, Worship, Serve, Give, Learn, Listen, Join. Elsewhere this is described as three practices and seven vows.

The practices are to spend twenty minutes a day in prayer, one hour a week in worship, and serving four times a month. That’s getting specific with your practices. In addressing “serving” they write “you will have to commit sufficient time and energy to actually slow down and get to know the one you intend to serve. Serving means you will have to extend yourself beyond writing a check and taking a walk. Serving means you will have to do something real.”

An essential component is the “Discipleship Group.” Yes, they talk and write about discipleship groups.

In the “Liturgy for the Gathering of a Discipleship Group” the seven practices/vows are identified as,

  • (1) setting aside time regularly for prayer,
  • (2) praise God in “my” Christian community weekly in worship,
  • (3) serve others by working toward giving an hour a week in service of the poor,
  • (4) be a good steward of money by giving ten percent to the church,
  • (5) “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 236) the Holy Scriptures,
  • (6) listen to God’s call on my life, and
  • (7) join with others in a Discipleship Group so “love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).

Did they spell it out enough? Too much?

I am not claiming the pattern offered by The Restoration Project is the only structure for discipling folk. It almost seems every week some group offers a new pattern and a new name for their particular approach.

Nor, will I claim theirs is the best.

What I will claim is they have put thought and prayer into what is offered and it is practiced in a number of churches, from Jacksonville, Florida, to San Rafael, California, and points in between. And people value being part of the process.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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