In Part I of this post we took a first look at how Worship – Grow – Serve summarizes our mission strategy at First Church. That post ended with questions about how these three components work together, and whether there is one single path to discipleship.
THE Path to Discipleship?
When discussing “Worship, Grow, Serve” at the church I’ve often heard it discussed as if there were a single path to this discipleship process which goes something like this: “Invite people into worship which gets them wanting to know more; get them into small groups for growth and study, which moves them to want to do or experience more; point them toward opportunities to serve both in and out of the church.” The idea is that there is a particular path to discipleship, starting with worship and moving through the other stages. This may seem intuitive since most church goers come to worship, but the number that move to the next stage always seems to be less than the one before. It would seem logical then that the goal would be to encourage increased worship attendance, followed by participation in growth and service opportunities. This path looks like the one below:
Worship > Grow > Serve
But is that the ONLY path to discipleship? The answer is no. The path above assumes many things, not the least of which is an assumption that people already believe what we believe or that they just need to return to the fold. But what if people don’t believe in God? Why would they come to worship something or someone in which they don’t believe or know anything about? Some of the things we do in worship are pretty odd to a non-believer. Some people would never voluntarily step foot inside our sanctuary.
If that’s the case we have to consider other paths of discipleship. We have to consider that for some people the path to discipleship will be different, and may look like this:
Serve > Grow > Worship
Some people will first encounter Christ’s love and forgiveness through acts of service and mission. Maybe they are the ones being served or maybe they are serving in some capacity alongside Christians. What they experience in these encounters may lead them to want to know more about Christ and the story of redemption. After a while they come to a small group Bible study or some similar meeting. After many such meetings perhaps then they decide to see what worship is really all about and discover to their astonishment that they too believe the good news and want to be a disciple of Christ.
My own path looked something like this:
Grow > Worship > Serve
I was curious to know more, I wanted to learn more about Christ before I committed myself. For me it started as head knowledge and grew into heart knowledge without me even realizing what had happened. It was then that I began to find ways to serve. Now my path flows back and forth with no real order to it. Some days I focus more on one area over another, but now they are all intertwined, more like three different modes of transportation – say like a car, a plane, and a train – all leading me to the same destination, all with the same driver, pilot, or engineer.
Whatever your path looks like take a moment to reflect on where you are and where you’ve been. Then ask yourself where you are going and how you should get there. If you feel the Spirit pushing you to serve more I hope you’ll come with us on the journey together as we explore what it means to be in service and mission to and for Christ.
By Jason Aycock