1. Discipleship is about forging relationships. A “disciple” is a student, which suggests that there is a teacher. Our ultimate teacher, of course, is Jesus himself, who called the first disciples. And the relationship that Jesus had with his disciples should be the model for discipleship in the church. We are first of all a community of disciples - which means we are in relationship with each other. And, of course, the fundamental word we use to describe the nature of this relationship is love. The basic instrument for defining our relationship to each other is the covenant.
2. Discipleship is integral to all that we do. Discipleship is not a separate program. It is not limited to learning opportunities (an educational model) or to community outreach (a service model) or to committee membership (a bureaucratic model). Everything that we do as the church is a form of discipleship. So, when we gather as the church, we should be deepening our relationships with each other and God as we cultivate our discipleship by being the church. 3. Discipleship is a life-long journey. Though we affirm the idea of perfection in the Methodist tradition, we always remain disciples. People need ongoing opportunities to grow in their faith, and the church can provide a wide variety of ways that people can engage in discipleship based on where they are in their faith walk. One-size-fits-all approaches fail to acknowledge the various phases of life and the different needs of real people. 4. Discipleship is an open process. God calls us as we are. There are no requirements for starting on the journey of discipleship. Everyone is invited. God calls us all. A special focus should be placed on those who are entering the life of discipleship for the first time, and the church can be intentional in extending the invitation and creating entry points for those new to discipleship. 5. Discipleship is dynamic and engaged. Disciples gather in order to accomplish a goal or fulfill a purpose. Fellowship, learning, growing are all valid reasons for disciples to gather - but the reason should be clear and everyone should be committed to the purpose. Disciples support each other in their shared journey of discipleship in a loving relationship defined by covenant in order to discern and fulfill their calling. Maybe discipleship can be defined in other ways. Perhaps there are modifications to these ideas that you would suggest. But I think these five points serve as a good foundation for a discussion about what discipleship is and how we, as the church, might facilitate people in their response to God’s calling in their lives.