"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we... become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
What is Adult Discipleship?
A great preacher once said, "Jesus desires followers, not admirers." Indeed, through his grace and love Jesus Christ calls women and men to follow him, growing in faith; loving God and neighbor more deeply. This sort of discipleship is a lifelong endeavor.
Churches can help adults grow in faith, and there are many programs which provide a format and context for the journey.
Adult Discipleship Courses
A ten-week course that explores the basics of the Christian faith. Thousands of churches around the world – of many denominations – have offered Alpha. The consistent structure of each session is key: meal, video presentation, small group discussion. Session topics include "Why and How Should I Pray?" The engaging videos share Christian ideas in a winsome and engaging way. Participants are encouraged to ask questions, share doubts, or make connections in the small group time. Alpha emphasizes God's transforming love through Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pilgrim is a teaching and discipleship resource that helps inquirers and new Christians explore what it means to travel through life with Christ. For example, "What Do Christians Believe?" and "How Do Christians Live?" There are two stages of material and four short books in each stage. Each course offers six sessions that combine a simple prayer, reflection on a biblical section using lectio divina, an article by a modern writer, and reflection questions.
Living the Questions
A 21 session video series with additional discussion materials available. The theology and approach is described as progressive, with an encouragement to question traditional Christian doctrines.
This is a ten-session curriculum created by Forward Movement. It is similar to Alpha in many ways, as it helps participants engage the basic questions of the Christian faith through a combination of teaching and conversation. The curriculum comes with a facilitators guide which also has an overview of the program and the recommended structure. Participant guides are well designed and move through the sessions, such as "Why do bad things happen?" and "Who is Jesus?"
Adult Discipleship Curriculum Options
Christian Life Trilogy
A three-part series that focuses on the power of Christ's resurrection for the daily life of all Christians. With videos and groups study guides, participants will move through The Crucified Life, followed by The Resurrected Life, and finally The Spirit-Filled Life. In total, a 20 week Bible study series, but it can be split into parts. Session titles include "Letting Go and Letting God" and "The Calling of the Spirit."
A video and discussion program for adults. One strength of the program is the crisp contemporary look and feel. Designed for short sessions, as the videos are only 7-8 minutes long, with the journal and faciliator's guide filling in the rest. Three "series" on Faith, Bible, and Practices. Videos are "led" by well-known Christian voices such as Nadia Bolz-Weber and Bruce Reyes-Chow. There is also the option to buy sessions individually, with easy digital downloads.
This is a curriculum series that comes in DVD and workbook form. The video sessions take the form of discussions, with multiple people on the screen engaging a topic with the presenter. Presenters include Richard Rohr, Walter Brueggemann, Diana Butler Bass, Eboo Patel and more. Topics such as "The Prophets in Contemporary Culture," plus "Interfaith Cooperation," and "Forgiveness." Read the Building Faith review.
Books For An Adult Discipleship Group
Being Disciples by Rowan Williams
In this short volume, Williams turns his attention to the question of what is required for us to continue following Jesus and growing in faith. The book has six sections, and these could easily be sturctured into a short course. 1) Being Disciples, 2) Faith, Hope and Love, 3) Forgiveness, 4) Holiness, 5) Faith in Society, and 6) Life in the Spirit.
Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris
A fascinating book with a fascinating format. Kathleen Norris has compiled dozens of short chapters on Christian words which used to trouble or puzzle her. Everything from "conversion" to "apocalypse," plus words like "worship" and "hospitality." Her unique take – along with personal stories – will stimulate conversation for any group of Christians.
We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren
This book (fifty-two weekly readings) explores what a difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in our world today. It also puts tools in your hands to create a life-changing learning community in any home, restaurant, or other welcoming space.
What Programs Do YOU Recommend?
The above list is incomplete! Help us add to this set of options – tell us about programs, books, or studies that you have used. Use the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.