Tag Archives: discipleship

Forward Today: It’s all about disciples

Dear friends in Christ,

Last Sunday marked my ten-year anniversary serving at Forward Movement. What a wonderful adventure it’s been! I’ve visited many dioceses and congregations, and it has been rewarding to get to know the whole church through my ministry.

Last year, I offered my reflections on nine years of ministry, including some ways I think our church needs to change. This year, I want to highlight just one theme. Discipleship.

When I started at Forward Movement in 2011, I used to get pushback for raising the topic of discipleship. “It’s not our word,” people would say. Fortunately, I can say that now discipleship is our word. Our church has realized the value of naming and practices those disciplines that help us to grow into the full stature of Jesus Christ.

Forward Movement logo with tagline: "Inspire Disciples. Empower Evangelists."

I’d like to think Forward Movement has been a leader in the conversation. We have promised daily prayer and scripture engagement vigorously these last ten years, though that was really a continuation of our mission since 1935. The fruit of this work is evident.

More people are aware of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ in their lives. More people can make connections between their own life story and the story of God’s saving purposes revealed in scripture. More people have a deeper relationship with God through the nourishing habit of daily prayer.

It’s all about discipleship.

This is literally the thing Jesus told us to do. You can look it up in Matthew 28.

Over the last year, the church has been greatly disrupted. I know this has been a burden on church leaders and members alike. But this time also offers us the opportunity to reexamine our mission and ministry in the church.

Are we effective at making disciples? Do we need to add new ministries? Do we need to let some things go? Do we need to reinvent the way we do things? Do we need to focus more on discipleship and less on maintenance?

I don’t have the answers for you or your community. Every place will be different. But I can confidently say that the work Jesus has given us in every town, village, and rural area is to make disciples.

Forward Movement will be here with you, ready to offer encouragement and resources to support your ministry.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 


More from our ministry:

New online course from ChurchNext: Walking the Labyrinth, with Mel Soriano

A New Chapter at RenewalWorks

Reading suggestion: The Path: A Journey Through the Bible

Forward Today: Serve God in freedom and in peace

Dear friends in Christ,

This weekend, the United States celebrates its Independence Day. For the Episcopal Church, this is a major feast day. Our prayer book permits the use of a beautiful collect for the occasion:

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I love how the collect encourages us to see all the peoples of the earth as one people. But also, we are urged to use our liberty in accordance with God’s will, not for our own wants and desires.

Certainly, I am grateful to live in the United States. Our country has much to celebrate and to be proud of. We also have plenty of challenges and sins from which we must repent. I hope as we celebrate the founding of this nation, we can also commit to a zeal for justice. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone in the country were treated with dignity and respect?

It seems to be that patriotism means both gratitude for our nation and the willingness to challenge it to be better.

What about the United States are you grateful for? And what do you think we can do better as a nation? May God grant us strength and courage to have a zeal for justice.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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More from our ministry:

New FREE daily email: Spanish edition of Forward Day by Day
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Reading Suggestion
Gifts of God for the People of God: Exploring Worship in the Episcopal Church

New ChurchNext Course:
Gifts Found on the Bumpy Road


Click here to read more Forward Today messages.

Forward Today: A zeal worthy of his grace

Dear friends in Christ,

This coming Sunday’s epistle offers a compelling invitation from St. Paul. He writes, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:2b).

There’s a reason this epistle is assigned to the Ash Wednesday liturgy. St. Paul is inviting us to repent, pronto. I love how John Chrysostom reads this invitation:

Let us not let the opportunity slip, but rather let us display a zeal worthy of his grace. We press on because we know that the time is both short and opportune. The acceptable time is the time of the gift, the time of grace, when it is decreed that not only will no account of our sins be demanded from us, but that we shall also enjoy abundant blessings, righteousness, sanctification and all the rest.

Sunrise over the mountains

Can you imagine? If we all had a sense of the astounding grace of Jesus Christ, we would want to bear fruit and to share the Good News with those around us.

Do you see how it works? We repent and change our lives not to earn God’s love but in thanksgiving that God loved us first. It’s a life-changing way of seeing the world.

I invite you to bask in grace. And then display a zeal worthy of that grace. Today is the best day to set a new course; to manifest the transforming love of Jesus in our hearts.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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*John Chrysostom quote taken from Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, via Logos software.


More from our ministry:

Read the latest from Grow Christians: Evelyn Underhill and Everyday Mystics, by Sara Erwin

Reading Suggestion: Acts to Action | The New Testament’s Guide to Evangelism and Mission

New ChurchNext Course: My Take on the Trinity with Wayne Jacobsen

 

Forward Today: Discipleship and citizenship

Dear friends in Christ,

Yesterday, I was invited to join a conversation about discipleship on a regular series called Pew & Beyond. It’s run by Neil Mancor and Lisa Vaughn, friends who work on congregational vitality in the Anglican Church of Canada. We had a good time talking, and there were lively comments from the viewers. If you have an hour to watch Neil, Lisa, and I talk amongst ourselves and interact with viewers, I commend the video to you.

During the conversation, we talked about lots of things, most especially spiritual growth. How do we move from being spiritual couch potatoes to being spiritually healthy? We also talked about a new offering from Forward Movement, Revive for Lent. Check it out if you’re looking for a way to engage spiritual growth using a video-based series this Lent.

Someone asked about the relationship between discipleship and citizenship. Given recent events, in which violence was perpetrated by people claiming to be Christians, I thought it was a timely topic. It wouldn’t be hard to write a book on this topic, but in today’s email, I just want to share a few quick thoughts.

Discipleship is about the journey of individuals in following Jesus, but it can only be done in community. In other words, for a disciple there is always personal accountability and accountability to a wider community. So too it is with citizenship. There is work I must do as a citizen, but I must also attend to the well-being of my community.

It strikes me that this balance of individual and community is something that we often get wrong with disastrous results. In the church, if we fail to teach personal ownership of our spiritual journey, we end up with churches full of people who do not have a prayer life or an immersion in the scriptures. Conversely, if we fail to emphasize community, we end up with a selfish focus on personal spiritual achievement, which is quite the opposite of the sacrificial love that Jesus taught and lived.

So too it is with citizenship. If we fail to emphasize personal accountability, we effectively abrogate our leadership to any number of people who would hijack a nation for their own personal interests. And if we fail to emphasize community, we see a selfish view of citizenship that does not care for those at the margins.

In the coming weeks, I hope we can all reflect on our work as disciples of Jesus and as citizens of whatever nation we inhabit. We have many blessings to enjoy, but we also have much work to do.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

 

 

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Tune in!

Listen to today’s Forward Day by Day reflection on the Forward Day by Day podcast. Find morning prayer on the Morning at the Office podcast and end your day with the Evening at Prayer podcast. Available anywhere you listen!

 


In case you missed it…

New release: With Gladness | Forward movement

Spiritual Truth in an Age of Fake News | ChurchNext

Use REVIVELENT discount to purchase Revive and supplemental Lent material for $50 | Revive

Looking ahead to Lent? Here are some ideas. | Forward Movement

Submit a prayer | Christian Prayers from around the World

Join us on January 13th, 7pm est for RenewalWorks: Connect, featuring guest presenter: Dr. Lisa Kimball from Virginia Theological Seminary

Forward Today: Are we becoming a courageous church?

Dear friends in Christ,

I’m writing this week’s Forward Today from Atlanta, where I’ve come to the Rooted in Jesus conference. Our friends at ECF have organized a massive conference, with nearly 1,500 attendees. Even more impressive than the size is the way organizations have worked together to build a conference that is, well, rooted in Jesus Christ and in our lives as his disciples.

Forward Movement is hosting a pre-conference Discipleship Intensive. I’ve really enjoyed the conversations among participants about how we can be more effective in making disciples. Not surprisingly, it has a lot to do with leaders modeling lives transformed with discipleship. Disciples making disciples.

If you are in Atlanta, please stop by the Forward Movement table in the exhibit area. Several of us are here for the conference, and we’d love to meet you. If you’re not in Atlanta, you can follow the conference hashtag (#rooted2020) on social media. I’m sure there will be lots of coverage in church media, as well as blogs and posts about what’s happening here.

Beyond this conference, I’m excited about what’s happening in our church. In many places, people are choosing to leave the comfort and safety of Christendom with its model of parishes as preservation societies for the adventure of living the Gospel. To be disciples is to live in a way that chooses transformation, that embarks on journeys, that embraces change, and that takes risks.

What might our church be like if we could be more courageous – more willing to be adventurous? Imagine a courageous church. A church like that would be worth joining, worthy of sacrifice and devotion. A church like that will inevitably grow. A church like that will burst with love and witness. A church like that will be living only for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be that church.

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Scott Gunn
Executive Director


Today’s Flash Sale: Vestry Resource Guide & Guía de recursos

Whether you’re a new vestry member or a seasoned veteran, the newly revised (2015) Vestry Resource Guide is essential reading. With a deliberate focus on the importance of lay and clergy leadership teams, you’ll find comprehensive information and advice about the ministry of the vestry, leading faith communities, stewardship, and navigating clergy transitions.

 

Esta guía, en versión revisada, es una lectura esencial para toda persona que participa en una junta parroquial. La guía pone énfasis en la importancia de que la junta parroquial y el rector o rectora trabajen en equipo. Incluye información completa y consejos sobre el ministerio de la junta parroquial, cómo dirigir feligresías, mayordomía, y qué pasos tomar cuando cambia el clero.

 

 

Regular: $15
Today: $11.25

*Discount is valid until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time

New Infographics

Forward Movement is excited to release a new series of infographics about Holy Week and Easter. This five-part downloadable graphic series provides a contemporary way for individuals and churches to learn more about the traditions, practices, and history of the Anglican tradition of Christianity.

Downloadable PDFs can be purchased individually, or all at once with either our Discipleship Bundle for printing at your church, or the Evangelism Bundle for both printing and digital distribution across your channels.

The series includes infographics on:
Holy Week
The Way of the Cross
The Triduum
Easter
Pentecost

Not sure? Test it out! We’re giving away the Holy Week infographic for FREE through the end of April. Click here and use the promo code ONEGRAPHIC to receive this download for free through April 30 (expires at 9:00 p.m. ET).

New Discipleship Conference Announced

discipleshipmattersNEWMany of us want to grow as disciples. And we want to help others do the same. But we’re not exactly sure what to do. How do we grow as disciples and help others along the way? A new conference seeks to help people understand discipleship and learn how to build a culture of discipleship in their congregations. Sponsors Forward Movement and RenewalWorks invite all to participate in the conference, Discipleship Matters: Building A Culture of Discipleship in Our Churches, at the Kanuga Conference Center on October 26-28, 2015. Attendees will explore critical questions for the future of the church such as: How do we build cultures of discipleship? What actually works? And what doesn’t work?  Download a schedule of the conference here.

Designed for clergy and lay leaders, the conference builds upon the research and learning from more than 1,800 congregations, including 100 Episcopal churches. “There’s a lot of talk about discipleship in our churches, but our years of research and our work with the RenewalWorks process have actually shown us research-proven key characteristics of vital congregations. We can now talk about concrete ways to grow spiritually and to help our congregations become more faithful Jesus-followers, loving God and loving neighbor more deeply,” said the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, director of RenewalWorks. “This conference is a great opportunity for us to take time and reflect on discipleship together.”

Two nationally known leaders will serve as keynote presenters. The Rev. Carol Anderson, former rector of All Saints, Beverly Hills, and the Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile, author of People of the Way and The Agile Church, will guide attendees through both teaching and conversation about practical ways to deepen discipleship in one’s own life and in the lives of congregation members.

Offering great experience in parishes, and a focus on disciples making disciples, the Rev. Carol Anderson will offer insightful reflection for all attendees. “Discipleship formation needs to be an intentional, thoughtful priority in the life of a parish so that followers of Jesus are equipped to serve him in their daily lives.  We hope to encourage and help those who attend to find ways to do that,” Anderson says.

The Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile will mix his wise theological insights with parish experience from his work in Minnesota. “Discipleship is about going deeper into God’s life and into the life of the neighborhood,” said Zscheile. “We hope you will join us as we explore why this matters so much for Episcopalians today, what challenges and opportunities face us as disciples in the 21st century, and what renewed discipleship looks like in lived practice.”

For more information on the Discipleship Matters conference, visit www.renewalworks.org/events.

For media inquiries, contact the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, director of RenewalWorks (jsidebotham@renewalworks.org) or Ms. Samantha Franklin (sfranklin@renewalworks.org).