The Journey Begins
One of my all-time favorite lines from literature comes from, not surprisingly, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The line is part of a poem within the story and it reads, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Because I suffer from an insatiable case of wanderlust, this line speaks to me in so many ways and on different levels. I love putting on a backpack and heading out into the wilderness. It doesn’t matter if it’s up a mountain, around a lake, or on a beach. I have found those times to be among the most restorative moments of my life. Going on an adventure? Sign me up, Gandalf!
On another level, life itself can be considered an adventure. Life is wrought with play and work, joys and sorrows, celebrations and struggles, and high and low points. For some, life presents opportunities for new experiences, opportunities, and relationships. Each and every day affords something new and exciting or tests our endurance. Many, however, wander through life with no sense of purpose or fulfillment. They have no clear compass bearing, drifting from one event or relationship to the next. Sadly, they are wandering and lost. We know that this is not what God wants for us and, in fact, has something far better.
Beginning the journey together
This fall, we will begin introducing the idea of the “journey” as we talk about discipleship. The metaphor of “journey” conveys dynamic movement and growth with a purpose. Our hope is that our church family would progress through and grow within that journey. When we speak of discipleship, we're talking about an ongoing, intimate and growing relationship with Jesus. Thus, this journey entails becoming “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5: 17) as we are “conformed to the image of Christ” (Romans 8:29).
When you embark on a hike, you typically start at a trailhead. At the trailhead, there is often a map that serves as a marker to indicate your starting point and where you need to go. In a very similar way, the journey of discipleship begins with a trailhead or starting point, followed by different points along the path. So we want to provide you with a marker and direction as you pursue your relationship with God because, quite honestly, sometimes the journey is easy and fun, but sometimes the journey is difficult and challenging. Regardless of where you are in the journey, WE DON’T WANT YOU TO GET LOST! We want to challenge you and show you how to move toward growth and spiritual maturity.
Find your next steps
So how do you discover your next steps in the journey? This Fall, we are unveiling several new tools to help you. The first is our Journey Assessment. (Think of it like our trail map.) It will give you an opportunity to self-assess and help you find that “You are here,” spot on the map. It will also provide a starting point along the map of your journey.
Second, we have created a Discipleship Catalog for the journey. The catalog presents various opportunities to help facilitate your spiritual growth and development. From in-depth studies of the Bible; to classes that challenge you to think about how your faith fits into your work, to ways you can connect with your church family, the catalog includes all the opportunities within the church this Fall.
Finally, an easy way to get connected into the life of the church is to join a small group. This Fall, our congregation will participate in a Bible study and sermon series called For the Life of the World. We’ve invited our small groups, several Sunday School classes, 20s' Ministry and our Women Engaged ministry to lead the way, providing you several ways to join in. If you would like to get connected, see the details on page 14.
Since I began with Tolkien, I will end with him as well. In The Hobbit, the wizard Gandalf appears at the door of the protagonist, a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. He says to Bilbo, “I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure…” Bilbo eventually joins the adventure and is ultimately transformed by it. He does things he never thought he could do. He travels farther than he ever thought he would. He develops relationships he never thought he would have. He accomplishes something that seemed truly far-fetched when he began. In an even more profound way, the journey of discipleship leads to transformation in our own lives. We are transformed by Jesus, as we seek to follow Him in our daily rhythms of life. Our minds, actions, and relationships are transformed as we seek to love God and our neighbors.
So, what are you waiting for? Not all those who wander are lost. We are looking for people to share in an adventure. Join us this Fall in the journey of discipleship!
Jack Peebles is our Pastor of Discipleship, and with his team, has been preparing for this journey with our church family since his arrival in 2015.