I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 8:34-35 (NRSV)
Do you remember those silly red and green paper glasses movie theatres used to hand out when you went to a 3D movie? Though goofy, those spectacles had the power to transform a movie. Suddenly the images were not only on the screen, but they seemed to come toward you, enhancing the realism of our movie-watching experience. Producing movies that leap off the screen is one way to engage us in the film. Now, with the developments in virtual reality, you can immerse your senses in another world from the comfort of your own home. But, what does that have to do with faith, or discipleship?
I’m glad you asked. But first, let’s take a look at what discipleship is. A disciple is anyone who is a pupil of someone else, or an adherent to the doctrines of another person. Oftentimes when we talk about being a disciple, we are saying that we are a follower of Jesus. Specifically, that is why our denominational name as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is so vitally important. As disciples of Christ, and Disciples of Christ, it is imperative that we continually seek to grow in our understanding of who God is, who we are, and how we are to live our lives as a result of our relationship with Christ.
Now, let’s turn back to those 3D movies. Even run-of-the-mill movies have the power to captivate our hearts and minds. They can move us to tears, spark us to hope, and spurn us into action. But 3D movies (I’m going to lump virtual reality into the mix) engage our senses in a profoundly different way. The added dimension moves us from being merely observers to participating in the movie in an important way. That engagement and involvement is amplified even further in virtual reality.
That heightened level of engagement, participation, and even ownership, is the reason behind what I am calling 3D Discipleship. The 3 D’s stand for Discovering, Diverse, and Deliberate. I believe we are called to be continually learning more about who God is, and who we are called to be. As disciples we are called to a life-long journey of discovery. We are also created and gifted to be unique parts of God’s community. As disciples we are called to celebrate our diversity. And we are to be intentional and aware in our pursuit of God. As disciples we are called to be deliberate. These three attributes empower us to transform our faith from being observers to being engaged participants.
3D Discipleship is more than just a goal, or an ideal. It is also a new opportunity for our church and our community. Beginning later in September I will be holding our first 3D Discipleship meetings. These learning opportunities will be a mix of reading, teaching, and discussion, focused on discovering and developing our faith and lives as we seek to become the disciples God is calling us to be.
3D Discipleship opportunities will run for 4 to 8 weeks at a time, with a few weeks of break between each study. I encourage you to participate in as many studies as your schedule and interest allows. Each topic will stand on its own, so if you are not interested in this session, you can sit it out and join back in at the next topic. Furthermore, I know that life gets in the way sometimes and you may need to miss a session. Not to worry. Although the sessions are inter-related, you do not need to worry about being “behind” or trying to “catch up.” A core belief of the 3D Discipleship model is that we all have something important to contribute, and that we all learn differently, so you can step right back into the conversation at any time!
The first session of 3D Discipleship will begin on September 24th. In the first 8 weeks we will be asking the question, “What is the Bible?” No matter how much you have studied the Bible, this is a great opportunity to learn more about our sacred scriptures. We will look at the content of the Bible and the methods of study that scholars use to understand it. We will learn about the history of the periods in which various biblical books were written, and about how the individual writings came together into a single book. We will also attempt to discover what the biblical writers were seeking to accomplish through their writings. Our studies will broaden our understanding of the world and how we experience and make meaning of our lives.
This first 3D Discipleship experience will be offered at two times each Tuesday, 11am and 6:30pm. You can come to either time, or both if you so choose! I will be pulling our lessons from several different books and will provide handouts throughout the course with suggested reading before the next week. Future courses will focus on books and may “require” purchasing a book and reading to help you engage the conversation. However, most of the reading for this series will be in the Bible itself.
I hope you’ll join me for this new opportunity as we feed ourselves spiritually and intellectually through God’s word.