Wesley United Methodist Church in Erie, Pennsylvania, has a creative discipleship ministry plan. They use a mountain climbing theme, based on a trek up Mount Everest.
Rev. Pam Gardner and her team crafted the well-developed plan to help their people grow as disciples. They invite people to begin “the journey of a lifetime.” Sounds like a great adventure, doesn’t it?
Using the “See All The People” book by Rev. Junius Dotson, our Discipleship Ministries general secretary, as a starting place, Rev. Gardner said she wanted to find an image that put a challenge in front of her people. They settled on a mountain climbing theme, she said, because it makes people understand it is always the challenge to move up from where they are. But, along with that, they realize that when they reach the summit, they can’t stay there. They have to go back down and reconnect with other people. It’s an up and down trek, not linear.
Church attenders begin the discipleship adventure before they even get to the mountain, asking, “Have I invited Jesus into my life?” That is the first step. If they realize they have not, Rev. Gardner is happy to meet with them and settle that issue.
After that, they move to Level 1: Base Camp. At this level, they begin to understand worship and the importance of being a participant in worship, not just an observer.
On Level 2: First Mountain Camp, they begin to explore Bible study, Methodist study, finances, and spiritual disciplines. Opportunities for service are offered at this level.
As they climb higher, they reach Level 3: Second Mountain Camp. At this level, they begin to look at Bible study through the eyes of a disciple and not just a seeker. For example, they learn how to discern their spiritual gifts. If they haven’t already become a church member, this is a good level to make that decision.
And finally, at Level 4: Reaching the Summit, they write their own personal mission statement and celebrate the journey. Service opportunities abound here. They can learn to be a disciple study leader, a mission trip leader, a committee member or leader, and rise to other levels of responsibility.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: growing in your faith and becoming closer to Christ is the ultimate adventure!
Rev. Gardner said she pastors a diverse congregation, so many opinions abound! She said with a laugh that some of her people said, “You can’t make me do this.” She told them that’s true. They had to make that decision for themselves. She said she is always available to lead, educate and encourage, but just like those who scale Mount Everest, the “climb” is a personal trek.
I really like the way their plan for raising up disciples is layered. Each level builds up to the next. Each level prepares you to move to the next. And the mountain climbing theme … When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: growing in your faith and becoming closer to Christ is the ultimate adventure!
Like the people at Wesley, my hope is that you will have a plan to help your people “climb the mountain” to get closer to Christ and the people.