As he began the three years of his public ministry, Jesus gathered a group of twelve disciples who would accompany him on the road, learn from what he did and then be sent out to make more disciples of all nations, baptising them and teaching them to obey everything they had learned from Jesus himself.
Right at the start of this time, when Jesus first called Simon and Andrew into this team, the invitation that he gave them was, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
At the heart of this invitation are three things that form the core of what being a disciple is.
The first of these things is closeness to Jesus. They were invited to follow Him, and this necessarily involved a very close relationship. They were going to be spending the next three years together, eating the same food, sleeping in the same places, walking the same roads and having the same experiences. They were invited into a friendship with Jesus.
Being a disciple still involves cultivating a close relationship with Jesus and this happens through the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, Bible reading, fasting and so on. Through these means we can still engage with Jesus’ teaching, we can speak to him and connect with his heart and grow in our own relationship with him.
The second thing that the disciples were invited into was growth. Jesus said “I will make you”, and over the next few years he helped them grow into the people they had been created to be.
The process of growing as a follower of Jesus is just the same now as it was for the original twelve disciples. In particular, there were three key dimensions to the way Jesus helped them grow in their faith. The first of these dimensions was growth in knowledge. In their three years on the road with Jesus they heard him teach truth and developed their understanding of Scripture. They also learned spiritual disciplines from him such as how to pray. The second dimension that Jesus helped his disciples to grow was personal input. Having gained new knowledge, the disciples were not left to figure it out on their own, but they had Jesus as a mentor who could take time to help them apply the truth into their own lives. The third dimension was that Jesus gave his disciples challenging opportunities to make a difference, even at a very early stage. It was only a few months after he first called them to follow him that Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs to preach the gospel and heal the sick.
The third thing that Simon and Andrew were invited into was the opportunity to make a difference. By trade they had been fishermen, but now Jesus was promising to make them into ‘Fishers of Men’. Now they were given the chance to make a difference in people’s lives and help build God’s kingdom in the world. Being a disciple of Jesus means that we have a part to play.
Discipleship at Christ Church Manchester
At CCM we want to help people to grow as disciples of Jesus. Some of the ways that we do discipleship are:
Community Groups. Community groups are the lifeblood of the church. They are small groups of people who gather weekly (usually in somebody’s home) and share a bit of food, have a laugh together, talk about life, faith and the Bible, and pray with each other.
Opportunities to Have a Go. At Christ Church Manchester we have a ‘Have a Go’ culture. This means that we want to try lots of things, and we are always keen to give people opportunities to step out and use their gifts in new ways. We don’t think of church as a ‘spectator sport’, but something that everyone can get involved in.
Training Academy. We want to provide lots of opportunities for people to learn new skills and develop in their areas of gifting. We run a School of Leadership and a School of Theology, a preaching course, evangelism training, songwriting workshops and much more.
Spiritual Disciplines. We place a premium on prayer. CCM church-wide prayer meetings are definitely something worth experiencing, and we regularly teach on and encourage private prayer, Bible reading and other personal spiritual disciplines.