What even is discipleship? It’s one of those words that gets bandied about a lot, and it can have different connotations for different people. We think that discipleship is taking up the call to follow Jesus, whatever that may look like and however that happens for someone personally. A Student we asked described it as being a ‘Jesus movement follower’ and we think that sums it up quite nicely! in this blog we will look at discipleship specifically through the lens of how it is important to Deepening personal faith.
It is common belief that engaging critically with faith is tantamount to growing and deepening our relationship with God, and asking the hard questions is part of this. We draw on scripture, lived experience, theology and church traditions to learn and grow, but fully recognise that people will have their own ways of deepening their faith. This Blog will be a snapshot into a few different ways of doing that from students themselves.
Reading and Being Creative
“I read books about Celtic spirituality and mysticism, outside if possible but then I often get distracted by ducks or trees.”
“When I’m well enough, I read writings by Roman Catholic female mystics, e.g. Teresa of Avila. When I’m less well, I have a “faith journal” with Bible and saints quotes that I copy out in Disney font and doodle around/colour in.”
“…making art and playing instruments/singing.”
Reading the writings of Christians from a specific time or tradition, such as the mystics, can be a really helpful way to get a new and different perspective, or sometimes to put into words what we think or feel about things that we didn’t quite have the vocabulary to express previously. If you find writings that particularly resonate, inspire or challenge you, lean into them!
Journaling and being creative are excellent ways of deepening faith. Journaling can help you process your thoughts and feelings about a situation or a part of the Bible and also lets you look back over time and see what you’ve learned or how God has been faithful. Being creative lets us express a God-given part of ourselves in a way that brings God glory and is also just enjoyable! It can help us connect with God in a really unique way.
Using the Internet
“I follow Michael Hardin’s live video teaching on Facebook and read Anabaptist theology online, mostly Ted Grimsrud.”
Social media isn’t necessarily evil, it’s just a tool. We can use it wisely (or not so wisely!) to help us further our understanding of God and deepen our relationship with God (or to waste hours mindlessly scrolling…). Following theologians, reverends, priests, the Pope(!), authors, speakers or other Christian friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be a great way of interspersing our feed with bits of nourishment throughout the day, especially if we’re being mindful of what we’re looking at and even seeking it out for specific purposes.
We find these people on Twitter in particular really challenge and deepen our own faiths and remind us that though the world may be burning, there is still some good out there: Dr Rachel Mann (@RevRachelMann), Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans), Jason Chesnut (@CrazyPastor), Broderick Greer (@Broderick Greer) The Pope (@pontifex), Father James Martin (@jamesmartinsj), Nadia Bolz-Weber (@sarcasticluther), Revd Rob Lee (@roblee4), Bernice King (@berniceking), Congressman John Lewis (@repjohnlewis), Revd Sally Hitchiner (@SallyHitchiner).
Let us know who you like to follow on social media!
Contemplation and Reflection
“I lead intercessions at church sometimes, and I’ve found that just sitting with the readings and hymns for the week and physically writing out the intercessions by hand is a good contemplative practice for me.”
Leading other people in worship means putting in the prep time ourselves! If you struggle to make the time to read the Bible or pray and you want to give more of your time to it, this might be a good option for you. Why not volunteer to lead a study at your small group?
Contemplation and meditating on the scriptures is a great way to deepen faith, as it gives you a focus and a longer period of time in which to really chew the words over and let them resonate with you deeply. Contemplative prayer is a great practice that can help focus our mind and connect with God in a really deep way. Read more about contemplative prayer.
“I do love a good podcast (Greg Boyd is my dude).”
“Podcasts!!! I’ve collated a list that are SCM-values friendly and love exploring these.”
We’re big fans of podcasts; not only are there loads of excellent ones out there, they’re great for people who don’t have a lot of time to sit and read (or don’t have the inclination to) as they can be listened to on the go or whilst doing other things.
A Good DMC!
“Asking questions and discussing ethical issues with friends.”
“..for me there isn’t much that beats a deep and meaningful chat with a friend about life and God and just being excited about it together usually over a drink or with food, which I think is very biblical.”
This links back to our aim of Creating Community, a key element of deepening faith. We need other people to bounce ideas off of, discuss the tricky bits of life and faith and get excited about God with. Why not try to get involved with your local SCM Group at uni for a place that is inclusive and a safe place to explore faith?
Let us know if you have any other ways of deepening your own faith in the comments. You never know who you might end up inspiring!