Vital Signs of Parish Health: Path of Discipleship

by | Oct 26, 2023

In speaking about practices of faith, Bishop Mariann has said, “…the life of faith is never static, there is always a next faithful step.” We are capable of – and called to – growing as Christian disciples by deepening our relationship with God, our neighbors and ourselves. This growth may be referred to as a path of discipleship.

A path of discipleship sets out a life-long journey of maturing as a follower of Jesus. A path of discipleship is both individual and community oriented, drawing us more deeply into the heart of God and community and back out into the world.

Some religious traditions suggest that there is one relatively linear path of discipleship – a defined and prescribed way in which to grow as a Christian. We believe this idea is limiting. The path of each follower of Jesus is unique, contextual, sometimes labyrinthine, always constructed over a lifetime of relationship with the Triune God. That said, there are time-honored practices and ways of being by which Christian disciples deepen their faith.

In 2020, a group of leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington gathered to discern a diocesan path of discipleship. The hope was that congregations and individuals could use this path as a starting point to create a unique path of discipleship for the faithful of their worshiping communities. With a few years of experience, perspective, and feedback it has become clear that the original path and materials need some refinement and simplification in order to make them more accessible and useful to our congregations and our people.

Work has begun on reframing the original path. If you, or your worshiping community, are interested in being part of this reframing process, including offering feedback on draft versions of the new path, please contact the Rev. Anna Olson, Director of the School for Christian Faith and Leadership.

This is the final article in our series on the Vital Signs of Parish Health. We hope these examples from various churches and leaders within the diocese have increased your capacity to dream God’s dream for your parish. If you’d like to learn more about how to use the Vital Signs of Parish Health in your congregation, please contact the Rev. Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery.

 

Read the full series: