How does Grace provide a path for persons new to faith and/or fellowship to develop these characteristics? The Discipleship Path at Grace embraces four major components. From the moment of entry into the parish through Sunday visits, newcomers orientation, follow-up contacts, and pastoral visits, one has embarked on the Discipleship Trail.
ALPHA is our first component. It is a tremendous introduction/refresher on what faith in Jesus is all about. One of the geniuses of ALPHA's design is the development of small group relationships. Coming out of ALPHA, we provide a variety of small group opportunities to continue personal growth in settings within a fellowship of believers. Small group offerings include home groups, weekday study/fellowship and planned offerings such as Crown Ministry, Lenten programs, and Advent programs. [TOP]
The second major component is FOOTPRINTS OF THE MASTER, our catechumenal process leading to adult baptism, confirmation, reception from the Catholic Church, or public reaffirmation of the faith. Completion of the "CAT" process does not equal graduation from the church! Rather, it offers commencement of training for and participation in ministry as well as deepening growth through engagement in small group fellowship. This stage of the trail is a great place to explore a variety of ways and means to exercise ministry. [TOP]
The third major component in the Discipleship Trail is through the NETWORK program that offers an opportunity to find out the Spiritual Gifts we have each been given by God. Yes, we all have them as He has stated in His Word. It is amazing to see at this point on the "Trail" how much we want to give back to others of what God has given us. What is your passion? Preparing church dinners? Teaching Sunday School? Leading gardeners? Worship ministries? There is a place we are all called to fill that we will enjoy. The goal of NETWORK is to have "The right person, in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason." Don't get in over your head, lose interest and quit serving. First, find out what your gifts are, what you do best and enjoy and have a passion for, then it is okay to say "No" to things that are not what God called you to do. [TOP]
The fourth and final teaching component is LEADERS' SCHOOL. This is designed for ministry leaders and those wanting to become ministry leaders as a way of developing skills to lead small groups, and raise up people capable of leading the group after a leaders is prepared to go on to another calling. Every ministry leader should be training their replacement and that replacement should understand and agree to this so that no important ministry is interrupted for lack of a prepared leader. It is extremely important to train yourself out of a job, pass it on to others and continue your growing faith journey in another fulfilling capacity.
The Discipleship Trail offers a journey from entry into the Body of Jesus through a series of developmental opportunities designed to facilitate changed lives and transformed people--transformed to do more than dust the pews once a month--transformed to become people who make a difference for God in God's world and time.
A wise woman once said, "Sitting in church will not make you a Christian any more than sitting in the garage will make you a car."
Is our Discipleship Trail perfect? It is probably far from perfection, but the trail does provide markers for all of us to measure our journey through study and learning, and to reassess our place in God's great pilgrimage of life.
Where are YOU in your journey? [TOP]