How can we draw closer to God?  It takes steadfast spiritual practices to lead us on that path.  We want the entire congregation to grow in their relationship to God and embrace the gifts that make it all a reality.  That’s why we are introducing Equipping Practices during Lent here at Simpsonwood.

“Equipping Practices” at Simpsonwood UMC

A few words about Equipping Practices at Simpsonwood UMC.  Spiritual practices are habits that equip us for living faithfully with Jesus in the world.  It is the aim of this intentional effort to grow disciples in connection with God’s desire through every age group at Simpsonwood.   These equipping practices lead us to become like Jesus in faith, hope and love in real ways that reflect God’s desire for growth.  

Why is this needed in the church?  

Most have in their experience the joy of coming to faith in Christ in salvation only to wonder what’s next.  Short of someone teaching them how to grow in
Christ and like Christ, they often experience the struggle of having to figure it out on their own.  It is our belief that we should be intentional in resourcing all disciples, young and old, so the life Jesus wants for us can become a reality.   

How did it come about?

A team of dedicated individuals have worked to study and glean from the practices of the first disciples.  They also carefully examined what has worked
through modern intentional discipleship growth studies (like the Reveal Study) which have made this, their obsession.  A driving question for the Discipleship Growth Team at Simpsonwood has been: What practices, if pursued, lead disciples of Jesus to grow and ultimately take initiative in owning one’s own discipleship development?

What did the team find in their study? 

There are seven biblical practices that are modeled from the book of Acts to reflect the way the first disciples shaped their living in response to Jesus. 
Combined with modern research on more than 500,000 disciples through the Reveal Study, they are listed below:

Practice 1:  Intentional Reflection on the story of Jesus that leads to commitment to follow Jesus.  “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions  of Jesus.”  (Acts 4:13)

Practice 2: Reading and reflection daily in Scripture as the primary way of understanding God’s nature, claim and call.  You can follow DAILY SCRIPTURE ON FACEBOOK beginning on March 18.  Go to Facebook and follow this page.
 . . . devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their  shared meals, and to their prayers.”  (Acts 2:42) 

Practice 3Daily prayer that gives discipleship direction and reflects faith in Jesus’ faithfulness.  “…all were united
in their devotion to prayer, along with some women, including Mary the  Mother of Jesus, and his brothers.  (Acts 1:14)

Practice 4: Hands on service that reflects God’s love and grows the disciple’s heart to be one with Jesus.  “There we found brothers and sisters who urged us to stay with them for a week. In this way we came to Rome.  When the brothers and sisters there heard about us, they came as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us.”  (Acts 28: 14-15a)

Practice 5: A life of worship (small group and gathered worship practices) that lead to new learning and kingdom breakthroughs.  “As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people urged them to speak about these things again on the next Sabbath.  When the people in the synagogue were dismissed, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism accompanied Paul and Barnabas, who urged them to remain faithful to the message of God’s grace.”  (Acts 13:42-43)

Practice 6: Intentional generosity that grows both a disciple’s heart and the kingdom of believers.  “There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would  sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need.”  (Acts  4: 34-35)

Practice 7: Intentionally sharing Christ that leads others to embrace Jesus, God’s gift to the world.  “Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all!”  (Acts 10: 34-36)