At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that whoever hears his words and puts them into practice is like a wise person who built their house on a foundation of bedrock, and whoever hears his words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish person who built their house on a foundation of sand (Matthew 7:24-27). When the storms of life came, the first house stood, and the other crumbled. What to do is obvious: put Jesus’ teachings into practice. But the challenge is how to actually learn to live in a way where we put Jesus’ teachings into practice every day.
If we set out to do this on our own strength or in a haphazard way, we’ll quickly find ourselves discouraged, frustrated, and exhausted as we fail more than we flourish. This is why as the late, great Dallas Willard often said it’s crucial that churches and individuals create an actual plan for learning how to live more and more in loving obedience to Jesus as his follower and overall life-student (aka-a disciple). While there are no formulas or guarantees, what follows is just that: our plan to build the houses-that-are-our-lives on the solid foundation of Jesus and his Way, relying on his grace every step of the way.
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In a house, the foundation is the starting place. It’s not meant to be flashy. What matters is whether it can hold the weight of what’s built upon it. In our discipleship plan this is where Kingdom Foundations comes in, a three-week course meant to give an overview of the story of Scripture and an introduction to the life of discipleship to Jesus, providing a solid foundation upon which we can build a life of faith.
In a house, the next basic step is framing. This is what gives shape to the overall structure of the house that will eventually shape the day-to-day life of the people who live in it. In our discipleship plan, this is where Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) comes in. EHS helps us anchor our lives in the story of Scripture, pay attention to how God has been (and is still) at work in our stories, deal with and even grow through life’s inevitable difficulties, and perhaps above all it helps us to slow down our lives through a rhythm of daily time with God, and a day each week dedicated to Sabbath rest.
In a house, the next basic step is installing the functional features. Think roughed in plumbing, electrical conduit, duct work, inner walls and doors, etc. These are the inner workings that help bring utilities to life and the home flow well. In our discipleship plan, this is where Emotionally Healthy Relationships (EHR) comes in. EHR helps us gain the competency and the skills to truly love others well, not just talk about it. Through learning how to communicate and do conflict better, learning how to recognize and then stop living with unfair or unrealistic expectations or assumptions, and learning how to sort through our powerful inner world (which is powerful and influences how we speak to and treat others whether we’re aware of that inner world or not), EHR helps us take on ways of relating with one another that better represent the new family of Jesus we come into when we begin to follow him rather than mostly mirroring our families of origin as they usually do, even in church contexts.
Finishes & Fixtures
In a house, the last step is installing finishes and fixtures. Think faucets and light fixtures and switches and door handles. These are the things that make a house a home, and provide much needed specifics rather than roughed in generalities. In our discipleship plan, this is where Life Groups and Bible Studies and other classes and Adult Discipleship opportunities come in. To be clear, calling these sorts of opportunities “Finishes & Fixtures” and imagining them as taking that place in the life of faith we’re hoping to help people build does not mean they’re unimportant or unnecessary after thoughts. Far from it! Instead, it implies that these sorts of opportunities are the kinds that we think work best when added to an existing foundation and infrastructure rather than trying to use them as the foundation and infrastructure themselves. Two huge priorities here are being connected in a group for Christian community, and finding a place to serve in Jesus’ name, whether inside or outside the walls of the church. For the first of those two priorities, many people find that Life Groups are a great way to build community and share life together with others along the way, so we have an event several times a year called Group Connect in order to help establish those sorts of connections and get groups going. Watch our Events Page for the next Group Connect.