TDI Blog

Discipleship: More Than Sharing Coffee

December 1, 2018

“What should discipleship look like?” a dear friend recently asked. “Is it two people—one more mature and one less mature—talking about faith over coffee?” This had been his general experience, he confided, but he was convinced Jesus saw discipleship as something much more hands-on.

To be honest, discipleship has primarily been sitting and talking for me as well. Primarily … but not entirely. I thought back to another friend and coworker, Jorge. Through our relationship, God worked in my buddy’s heart to bring him to faith. As I made plans to attend seminary, however, I knew I had a limited time with Jorge, so I trained him to continue a Gospel witness in our workplace. We each had a couple of people we focused on intentionally reaching out to, and we prayed for each other in that process. Jorge had several opportunities to share the Gospel with our coworkers before I left, and he was able to debrief with me. When I finally transitioned to Gordon-Conwell, my buddy was equipped to continue Christ’s work in that place. To God be the glory!

When we observe Jesus interacting with His followers, He calls them to follow Him. He allows them to watch as He performs miracles and preaches the good news of the Kingdom of God. Soon though, He sends them out to try it themselves. Afterward, they come back to Jesus and debrief. Finally, after His death and resurrection, Jesus commissions His followers to continue His ministry by making disciples of all nations—repeating what they had been doing together.

Discipleship for Jesus wasn’t just sitting and talking. There was a teaching aspect, sure; but so much of Jesus’ time with his disciples was in action. He was intentionally preparing his disciples to continue his ministry after he left. I think our outlook should be the same.

Joshua William Multunas
Student, Master of Divinity

 

 

Discipleship: A Life-long Calling

November 1, 2018

The deep recesses of my bedroom closet are a testament to things I have outgrown. There’s a shirt demanding “More cowbell” or another one depicting a bunch of vegetables shouting “Eat More Meat,” both of which seemed timeless when I bought them; they weren’t. There’s a bunch of dress clothes I spent a great deal of money on that I assumed would last (and fit) forever; my love for ice cream and seconds have rendered those items literal stretch goals. There are countless other items I have outgrown for one reason or another.

When I first arrived at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2016, I thought I had outgrown discipleship, like my t-shirts no longer in style or suit pants that were a bit too tight. Called to the mission field with my family, I assumed my time at Gordon-Conwell was to solely grow in my skill as a discipler and learn different methods and best-practices for raising up fully-devoted, fully-formed followers of Christ. Being discipled was for younger Christians, not seminarians. As a seminarian, my role was to go and make disciples rather than be discipled. I could not have been more wrong.

My first semester, I was approached by Dr. Tom Pfizenmaier about joining Gordon-Conwell’s new discipleship initiative and to be discipled by him. Hmmm…to be discipled by a man with decades of pastoral experience? How could I refuse? As I met with Tom over the semester, we shared our lives, studied Scripture, and prayed for one another. Transition to seminary was challenging and Tom supported, guided, and prayed with me. I came to the realize I hadn’t made it yet, and that was ok. I also began to see every interaction at seminary through the lens of my discipleship unto the Lord. Office hours, hanging out at the dining hall, spending time with my family, pacing the basement of the library doing vocabulary cards, and everything else I did was a means of growing as a disciple.

Partway through my semester with Tom, I realized I had benefited from the business world’s version of discipleship: mentorship. Through one-on-one mentorship relationships, an individual has an opportunity to gain wisdom and practical career advice from a more experienced employee in their industry. There is no upper age-limit for mentorship relationships; there’s always an opportunity to learn from someone else. The companies I worked with deemed mentorship relationships a best-practice for strengthening their workforce and developing their employees, and I had benefited from such relationships. If the business world accepts and recognizes the value such on-going relationships, why hadn’t I realized they were even more important in my spiritual life?

Discipleship is not a best-practice because businesses have tested it; it’s a best-practice because Christ commanded it. Through Dr. Pfizenmaier and the Discipleship Initiative, I was shown that I will never outgrow my need to be discipled; I’m grateful for that lesson. Following Jesus faithfully is a challenge. It has been life-giving— perhaps even life-saving—to have someone with whom to regularly reflect on Scripture and continually ask: “Who is Jesus and what does it mean to follow Him?” Whether I’m on the mission field, in seminary or at 9-5 job in my hometown, I will never outgrow my need for discipleship because following Christ is a life-long calling.

Su Kim,
Master of Divinity (May 2019)
President of Student Association

 

 

Pitching In Along the Way

October 1, 2018

“Dear Jenny, just a thought, but what if you spent some of the time talking to God that you spend writing to me about boys in your class?”

Those words, penned by my camp-counselor-turned-pen-pal, set me on a course of talking with God that has spanned my life to this point. As I grew to trust and to know Him more, others pitched in along the way. 

From the beginning, my mom and dad sacrificed for me to attend Catholic school, and my grandparents sat with me every week at church. In high school, I began to wonder if God was listening. Mrs. Ehlers, who always hugged me and fed me and let me sleep over, piped up: “Even when it seems like he isn’t, he is.” In college, I thought I knew it all; but Amy, my Campus Crusade discipler, was a patient reminder of God’s kindness, not his judgment. Later, when the monotony and sleep deprivation of early motherhood threatened the end of my spiritual life, my friend and spiritual director, Sue, listened to me and rooted me in God’s love and care.

Now that my daughter is thirteen, I hear quite a bit about the boys in her class. I wonder at times if my encouragement to talk to God falls on deaf ears. I have only to look back at my own life to know: there will be others who will pitch in and point her toward God. At the same time, I trust there are some who will look back at their life and include me in their list of those who pitched in.

Jennifer Drummond currently serves in the Housing Office at Gordon-Conwell’s Hamilton campus. She has worked in three other offices at Gordon-Conwell over the past sixteen years. She lives in Asbury Grove, where she blogs, photographs nature, and generally enjoys life with one husband, two middle schoolers, and a puppy.

Jennifer has joined the Discipleship Initiative in providing one-on-one discipleship to students at our Hamilton campus.

Have you ever thought about being discipled by someone? Have you ever thought about learning to disciple others? If so, the Discipleship Initiative is for you. Learn more about the Discipleship Initiative.

Introducing Gordon-Conwell’s Discipleship Initiative

September 13, 2018

At the end of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus famously commanded his apostles to go and make disciples of all the kinds of people there are on the planet—all races and ethnic groups. That’s a tall order! Where do we begin? Well, where did we begin? Looking back, most of us can identify someone who helped us as toddlers in Christ to learn to walk by faith and not by sight—to become a maturing follower of Jesus.

The goal of The Discipleship Initiative at GCTS is to teach others how to make disciples, by experiencing it ourselves. Participants in the Initiative make a two-year commitment. In Year One, they are discipled by a seminary staff member, professor, local pastor, or second-year student discipler. In Year Two, they, in turn, disciple two other people—fellow students, friends, or church members. The goal is that participants graduate having been discipled and having discipled others. In this way, we hope our students will embrace discipleship as a Christian core competency and a life-long calling.

Our approach is personal life-on-life sharing around the Scriptures—asking key questions like “Who is Jesus?” and “What does it mean for me to follow him?” Together, we hope to discover a richer, deeper union with Christ and love for Christ, expressed in ever maturing service to Christ in the lives of others.

Once per month, different people involved in The Discipleship Initiative will post their own stories about the impact of discipleship in their own lives, and the lives of others. I hope you will make this blog a regular staple of your online diet, as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission together!

All blessings,

Tom Pfizenmaier,
Associate Professor of Formation and Leadership Development,
Director of Formation and Leadership Development,
Dean of the Hamilton Campus