By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

As United Methodists, one of our most important callings is to make disciples of Jesus Christ in every nation. It’s the Great Commission that was laid out by Jesus Christ at the end of Matthew 28, saying “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

And even within our own Arkansas Conference, is it the driving message that steers everything that we do. We are called to create vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.

The 2018 Growing Disciples Summit, which takes places on Saturday, Aug. 25 at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, is seeking to help clergy and laity achieve that mission.
The intention of this Summit is to bring that discipleship message to church leaders and help them to learn the hows and whys of intentional discipleship systems.

Center for Vitality Director Dede Roberts explains that disciples are more than just church members.

“Every congregation I know engages in some of these practices, but few of us have a pathway — an intentional system — in place to help people grow from one stage of faith to another. If we are going to be disciples who make disciples, we need deeply committed followers of Christ who have been equipped to share their gifts and graces with others in the church and the community,” Roberts said. “The Summit will offer inspiration, information and models for moving members to mission and nominal Christians into the mission field.

The Summit will give participants a chance to build their own discipleship pathway — also known as an intentional discipleship system – through, not just keynote speakers, but hands-on workshops as well.

A new challenge will also be offered to 20 congregations in Arkansas: a commitment to applying what they learn at the Summit in their local setting.

The Twenty, as it is known, is a learning group offered to congregations that commit to planning and putting into motion an intentional discipleship system by Dec. 31, 2018.

A number of benefits are available for those who join The Twenty, including: one-on-one help from the Center staff who will meet with members as they plan their new system, a coach that will assist a congregation’s pastor for the duration of the process, communication and promotional assistance, reserved places for congregations at the upcoming MissionInsite in-depth training course, connection to other congregations who are participating in The Twenty, recognition and plan presentation at Annual Conference 2019, and placement on the early notification list for future Center for Vitality events.

“We are committing most of our resources of both time and talents to this endeavor because we believe the mission is what matters most,” Roberts said. “It is God’s work and we’ve been commanded to do it. Making disciples is our main thing, our reason for being ‘church’, and the Center for Vitality can resource Arkansas congregations to fulfill that mission. We are challenging 20, but we will work with more!”

More information about The Twenty will be given at the Summit.

All-in-all, Roberts and the Center for Vitality crew are excited for what this year’s Summit has in store for its attendees.

“The Summit has been designed to be more than just another conference. It is our hope that the Summit will serve as a ‘think tank’ where we all come together as spiritual leaders, both lay and clergy, to learn, share ideas, make connections and then go back to our churches to do something new, something bold, something that will transform a life for Christ,” Roberts said.

For more on the Growing Disciples Summit, visit vitality.arumc.org, or contact Lay Program Coordinator Cathy Hall at 501-324-8011 or cathy.hall@arumc.org.