Discipleship Level 2: Exploring
Visits churches. Starts reading the Bible. Tries a bible study or mission project. Gives occasionally.
The new faces you see in your church community are interested in developing their spiritual life. They may be visiting several different churches. They may have just moved to your area. They could be newly interested in spirituality and wondering what this church thing is all about. What is your church going to show them? How will they feel about your church when they leave?
The New Welcome
How do you engage these new faces on Sunday morning or in your small group or at your service project? Do they feel like outsiders, or do they feel welcomed?
Newcomers show up at your church for a variety of reasons. Knowing these reasons can change the way you interact with visitors. These guests are not just people to be initiated into your way of doing things. What gifts might they offer to your church?
Two video presentations and a resource CD with additional videos, PowerPoint presentations, and handouts present new ways of thinking about hospitality and how best to respond to newcomers. Special sessions on African American congregations and young adults are included.
Read more about this resource in our online catalog: The New Welcome: Reach New Disciples by Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr. and Rev. Asa J. Lee; Lewis Center for Church Leadership, Wesley Theological Seminary, 2013.
Making Sense of the Bible
New readers of the Bible can become frustrated. They don’t know what to make of certain passages. They have heard popular ideas about what the Bible is, but they are not really sure how we got the text that we read today. United Methodist Pastor Adam Hamilton leads the largest UMC in the U.S. He has heard many questions about how to read and understand the Bible. As he explains in this study, he loves the Bible, even as he struggles with it, and he wants others to love it, too.
This six-session DVD study covers how we got the Bible, what the Bible contains, what kind of book the Bible is, and specific questions about challenging passages. The short video sessions are well-supported by a lengthy text with easy-to-read short chapters packed full of useful information. A leader’s guide provides goals, scripture, activities, prayers, discussion questions, and background information for each session.
Read more about this study in our online catalog: Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today by Adam Hamilton; Abingdon Press, 2014. A DVD and Leader Guide are also available.
If you start reading the Bible, you may also start to wonder about Christianity. What do Christians believe and why? As visitors seek to learn about the basics of Christian faith, established church members may also be interested in journeying alongside the new folks to learn a more defined language to express their own faith. For centuries, Christians have expressed their faith by saying the Apostles’ Creed. Many can recite it, but not many have been taught what exactly it means and what it says about the Christian faith. In this 6-session DVD study, Rev. Adam Hamilton unpacks each phrase of the creed explaining why it is in there and why this creed speaks to the heart of Christianity. Participants will gain a firm foundation for their faith.
The study includes a DVD with presentations by Rev. Hamilton and a leader guide. Each participant will want a copy of the book to gain a complete understanding of the teaching.
Being a Wesleyan Christian
Visitors also need to understand what it means to be a United Methodist. What makes it different from other denominations? What are they signing up to believe and why should they? The Media Center has several studies on Methodism that cover history and beliefs. Some are short and some are long. Some use DVDs. A complete list can be found in our Methodism Pathfinder.
This book by United Methodist Pastor and Scholar John O. Gooch does not have a DVD study, but it covers a lot of ground in its short length. Reflection questions make it useful for a group study. In sections on belonging, believing, growing, and living, Gooch shows readers what it means to live as a Wesleyan Christian explaining unique Methodist doctrines, history, and organization. Both new and seasoned Christians will contemplate what it means to live as a United Methodist.
Read more about this book in our online catalog: Being a Christian in the Wesleyan Tradition: Belonging, Believing, Living, Growing by John O. Gooch; Discipleship Resources, 2009.
Visitors who are just beginning to engage with your church may want to try a bible study. New Christians are often excited about their new lives and eager to build relationships with other Christians while learning more about what they can do for Jesus who has done so much for them.
Jeff Kirby is a leader at Adam Hamilton’s church. He created this study that introduces the concept of discipleship as apprenticeship. Kirby is seeking to fill a gap between the clear teachings of the Bible on what Jesus instructed us to do and what life and ministry actually look like for us today.
Focusing on chapters in the Gospel of Matthew, Kirby discerns that Jesus’ ministry mostly involved sharing the good news, healing the sick, and pushing back against darkness. In four sessions, participants will study the bible to learn how to do these things that Jesus did.
The DVD features teachings by Kirby, and a leader’s guide provides guidelines on leading each session. Each participant will need a copy of the book.
Explore recommended resources for the other levels of discipleship:
Discipleship Resources for Seekers (Level 1: Searching)
Discipleship Resources for New Members (Level 3: Beginning)
Discipleship Resources for Christ-Followers (Level 4: Growing)
Discipleship Resources for Leaders (Level 5: Maturing)
More information on discipleship paths is available in our post on How to Choose the Right Study for Your Group.
To try one of these resources with your church, simply fill out the Resource Request Form, or contact the Media Center with any questions. The NC Conference Media Center is open to all clergy and laity in the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church, free of charge.