The discipleship understanding of Christian living sees the church as a body of believers (disciples) who together commit themselves to following Jesus Christ (Nachfolge Christi). Hence it roots the identity of the church in the biblical story of faith. It suggests that Christians cannot be the church today, unless they understand and model their living after the Bible of yesterday.
Discipleship, Gameo (Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online).
The Anabaptist Traditions have refused to allow salvation and the spiritual life to be separated from a life of obedience and discipleship. The two belong together. Here is the particular seed, fruit, and vintage we have inherited from the Lord and our parents in the faith.
C. Arnold Snyder, From Anabaptist Seed
The New Testament writers often compared following Jesus to running a race. To run a marathon well, with endurance and stamina over the long haul, the runner begins a process of training. Practicing in small, consistent ways at the beginning allows one to act in big ways over time. The idea of “training” is much like the Anabaptist-Mennonite notion of discipleship in that a person’s convictions and priorities are made visible to others in the way that the person lives. Anabaptist-Mennonites feel that the teachings of Jesus are not just ideas to ponder, but are instructions for living–a training manual, if you will!
Mennonites practice Believer’s Baptism, which means that the choice to follow Jesus and to be baptized ought to be made in maturity. The Anabaptists believed that children are held and covered by God’s grace, but this doesn’t give us license to ignore the growth of children. In fact, significant forming-toward-faith happens in childhood and the Christian education of children is a high priority at Mennonite Church of Normal. As basic physical fitness is to the marathon runner, so children’s Christian education is to the mature follower of Jesus!
Discipleship, a process of lifelong learning, takes many forms at Mennonite Church of Normal:
- Sunday morning worship: Scripture reading, prayer, preaching and singing
- Sunday morning adult and children’s Christian education classes
- Small groups for fellowship, study and prayer
- Youth groups and youth worship for students in 6th-12th grades
- Fellowship and learning activities for Young Families
- Regular and seasonal choirs for children and adults
- Online resources for adult continuing education
- …and more!