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Joy Lutheran Church

717 FM 359

Richmond, TX 77406-2005

281-762-3310

Marks of Discipleship

 

 

In his book, PoWeR SuRGe, the Rev. Michael W. Foss presents six marks of discipleship, which he defines as “practices of faith that will help bridge the gap between beliefs and behaviors.” He presents these marks not as religious rules, but as a method of strengthening faith and bringing one’s faith into the real world. The marks are tools through which God can bring the disciple into a closer relationship with Himself and strengthen the disciple to increasingly look to God to guide all aspects of his or her life. In so doing, faith and life grow intertwined, and the disciple is equipped with, as Foss writes, “a real faith for real life.” Foss believes that this real faith for real life has the power to energize and transform our congregations. Let’s look then at what Foss defines as the six marks of discipleship.

 

Daily Prayer

The ability to listen to and speak with God in prayer is a powerful gift. A truly strong faith, one that is active in shaping our lives, incarnates this gift. A disciple prays to grow closer to God and to grow in the realization that God is executing His will in their life. For a disciple, prayer is, first and foremost, a way of listening to God, knowing what to ask in seeking help, giving thanks for blessings received and seeking guidance in all situations. Foss believes that a church should be a “school of prayer,” equipping disciples with the ability to identify God leading their lives. He challenges churches with “creating a context in which conversation with God is as natural and expected as conversation among families, friends, and acquaintances.”

 

Weekly Worship

Most of us are pretty accomplished at feeding our bodies when they are hungry. We need very little prompting to drink when we are thirsty. But our spiritual hunger and thirst must also be satisfied. Worshiping each week is the fuel on which a disciple’s spirit runs. Gathering for Word and Sacrament strengthens the disciple’s faith and prepares the disciple for service to God in the coming week. Foss states that a disciple worships weekly “not out of obligation, but out of eagerness.” Disciples worship because God calls them to Himself and calls them together with other disciples, whether in their home congregation or as visitors when they are away from home. Word and Sacrament feeds the spiritually hungry. A discipleship church is led by disciples who worship God publicly and enthusiastically each week.

 

Bible Reading

The Bible is the written Word of God, the source and norm for our life and living. How could disciples of Jesus Christ, then, not turn to that Word as a guiding light for their lives? Reading and studying the Bible are important to disciples because these practices help them to grow in their knowledge of God and to embrace His love, mercy and grace. When we read Scripture, we are in His presence and can grow closer to Him. A discipleship church makes teaching, reading and understanding the Bible a top priority. Small group Bible study and classes on using resources such as concordances, commentaries and Bible dictionaries are vital ministries at a discipleship church.

 

Service

Service is a fruit of faith, a discipline that grows out of faith as an expression of the perfect love of God. A disciple understands that no deed can earn God’s love. But a disciple, filled with God’s love and grace is unable to keep from expressing gratitude for that love through service to others. Service is one of the ways disciples express their faith by, as Foss states, “participating in God’s love for the world.” Service, both within a congregation and outside the church, is not something we do to become a disciple. It is what we do as a result of being a disciple. A discipleship church is a place where service is expected and where disciples are prepared to perform service. We value and acknowledge those who serve, which will attract others to service. We give people multiple opportunities to get involved in service and train them to serve.

 

Relationship

Encouragement, commitment, accountability, support — these are some of the words Foss uses when writing about spiritual friendships. Another is growth. Spiritual friendships are relationships disciples have with other disciples. It is in these God-given relationships within His body, the Church, that disciples encourage each other, reinforce one another in the marks of discipleship, hold each other accountable as disciples and support each other in their successes and failures. These friendships are one way God grows faith in disciples. The importance of these friendships cannot be under emphasized. As Foss writes, “It is in interpersonal, caring relationships between committed disciples that real growth takes place.”

 

Giving

Generous giving, or tithing, is the final mark of discipleship. It is in this mark that the difference between a membership church and a discipleship church is often most clearly seen. In a membership church, giving can often become akin to paying dues and expecting certain services in return. In a discipleship church, tithing is done with joy and thanksgiving. Tithing is a way of keeping our focus on the fact that all that we have comes from God. Thankful generosity serves to keep things in perspective and help us always understand what is truly important in life.

 

Our Mission: Called by God, we reach out joyfully to share Jesus Christ with all people by building healthy relationships with God and one another.

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Office - 281.762.3310

Pastor Tim Christ (832) 549-4985 (Pastors Cell)

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Mon-Wed-Thurs 9am - 2pm

Closed Friday

 

Joy Lutheran Church is a Charter Congregation of the North American Lutheran Church

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