You asked and here it is, the second of three posts about house churches, this one about discipleship. Becoming a disciple or follower of Christ begins when we say ‘yes’ to him. But the process continues the rest of our lives as the Holy Spirit helps us become more and more like Christ. In the United Methodist Church, we see this as a work of God’s grace, which we call sanctifying grace because it’s how God works in our lives to make us holy.
Helping people learn to follow Jesus is near and dear to me, having served as Adult Discipleship Coordinator for five years and then as an associate pastor with responsibility for all ages of discipleship for five more years. I’ve led many small groups myself and taught many more how to lead small groups. On the surface, it would seem a natural step to make the discipleship in a house church look just like the small groups. But discipleship in the house church is firmly rooted in the corporate reading and study of the Bible. Just as worship is an activity in which every member has a part, we read and listen together to the passages of the Bible, make observations, ask questions of the text and listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance for ourselves, for each other and for the church. There is nothing wrong with using small group curriculum, ‘curriculum’ for the house church simply tends to be the Bible itself. Yes, there is the potential risk that there could be theological ‘drift.’ I think this is overcome not only by other teaching by the lead pastor (me) but also by the value of each individual’s opportunity to learn to listen to and trust in the Holy Spirit. And, it provides the opportunity to learn to think critically about the Word in the context of community, which is, after all, the way we arrived at the Bible(s) we have today.