Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Discipleship Academy

I would like to invite you all to consider taking part in a new innovative program we are working on with the New Jersey Synod Discipleship and Witness Team.   Please check it out below and contact me if you are interested in trying this out to help build up the life of your congregation. 

Discipleship Academy
Build- Grow-Go

The Discipleship Academy is a ministry designed to:

Equip congregations and their leaders with resources to fulfill their mission to grow the people of God in their location,

Work together and share the untapped wisdom found in our clergy, deacons and lay leaders,

Lift up publically those in our congregation who can be examples or mentors for others in a growing life of discipleship.

The Basics

The Discipleship Academy is a series of 4 week courses to encourage deeper faith through practices of discipleship. The courses are created by participating congregations and will be designed so that they may be lay or clergy led. There are seven core courses that emphasize the building up of foundational discipleship practices. Elective courses on a wide variety of topics will also be offered as supplementary courses. All the courses will be found at a website linked to the synod’s site.

The core courses:

Sacred Storytelling and Witness
Bible Reading
Community in Christ
Our Lutheran Witness
Serving Our Communities

Some Details

4-8 minute videos will be posted on the web for each course via YouTube on the Discipleship Academy Channel.

Each course is offered in individual congregations according to the congregation’s schedule. The pastor reports those who complete the courses to the ministry’s synod representative of Discipleship. When people complete four courses they receive a certificate of accomplishment (What about Phase 1: Follower Milestone 1) and a public affirmation of their work in their home congregation. Names will posted on the synod website to celebrate and encourage them in their growth. A second certificate is issued along with another public affirmation when four more courses are completed (Phase 2: Disciple Milestone 2). A third certificate is offered upon completion of the seven core courses (Phase 3: Apostle (Sent One) Milestone 3). Those who wish to continue to grow are are encouraged to enroll in either Diakonia or some other theological study. It is our hope that those who do so will keep us informed of their further study so we may celebrate it with them.

We are recommending that courses have a small fee, which is used at the complete discretion of the participating congregation. This is to help the participants to understand that this is intended to be a commitment. Scholarships should always be given to allow anyone who wants to attend to come.

We are planning for this to be a living curriculum in two ways. First, we would ask each participating congregation to offer an elective course to the academy. Secondly as the courses are given, we will be asking for the input of the participants and leaders so that the courses can be edited over time and additional resources given. Together, we can grow disciples in New Jersey and make a difference in this corner of the world for the reign of God!

What’s the outcome? 

The goal is to grow disciples. As we are all at different places in our journey, we would like to celebrate and encourage disciples in their growth. We would like to encourage different milestones through Discipleship Academy. When an individual finishes 3 core courses and 1 elective, they reach Stage 1: Follower. When they finish another central course and any three additional courses, they reach Stage 2: Disciple. Stage 3: Apostle (Sent One) occurs after the completion of all the core courses. After that, we encourage the disciple to seek further theological training through Diakonia or other similar programs.

How much does it cost? The course is a FREE resource, we only ask that if you participate, you would create an elective course of your choosing that follows the structure of the core classes.  It would then be posted on the site with all the other courses.  We also recommend a minimal fee for each participant (to encourage commitment). The money gathered by the course is to be used with your congregation’s discretion.

Who leads the course? The course is designed so that anyone can teach it. Each course will include a brief video accessed through YouTube. Each congregation picks and chooses which courses to teach, working within the schedule and life of your particular congregation.

Where can I get this course? The Discipleship Academy courses will be available through the New Jersey Synod Discipleship and Witness page starting September 1st.   We are currently beginning a test run in some congregations this March.

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