The first thing I’d like to note is that discipleship is by definition communal. You can’t disciple yourself, and nor would it be any use if you could. Discipleship is about us as the people of God getting alongside each other in the race set before us to spur each other on towards Christ.
The word disciple crops up around 300 times in the bible, mostly in Jesus’ teaching which is usually a pretty good place to see something being modelled well. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see him investing deeply in his twelve disciples. He spent time with them apart from the crowds explaining things they didn’t understand, teaching them, rebuking them, eating with them, exploring God’s calling on their lives, preparing them for their future, praying with them, loving them, encouraging them in their spiritual gifts and seeing them grow from, (in Peter’s case), an uneducated fisherman with a limited understanding of God to the leader of the church, the bride of Christ.
In my two years at OCC, I’ve experienced all these things in some way. The main way I’ve seen this at work is through something called ‘personal pastoring’. In this, everyone in the Church has the opportunity to meet up with someone more mature in the faith in a regular pattern to do all the kind of things I talked about Jesus doing with his disciples. This provides a great space for accountability, rebuke and dealing with sin but also for growth, challenge and maturing. This leaves no space for stagnancy in our relationship with God or falling into despair from struggling solo with sin and doubt.
The genuineness with which so many people in the Church have invested and cared for me in my time here has blown me away. Oxford Community Church truly does do Church as a Community and discipleship is a key way in which we do it. So where does that leave you? I’d like to end on a quick challenge: Who can you ask to get alongside you in this intentional way? Who can you get alongside to see them grow and flourish in their walk with God?
Pip Harrison comes from Chester (and Malawi), and is a third-year engineering student at St. Peter's College.