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From Your Bishop: The believers devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching

Posted: February 20 2023 at 10:44 PM
Author: Bishop Dan Schwerin

Siblings in Christ,

Let me begin with gratitude: thank you for the warm welcome you continue to offer Julie and I, particularly, your support of the Days on the District. I write today, moved by a conversation I enjoyed with some clergy in the Prairie Central District.

We discussed some of the challenges of forming faith communities these days. Online worship portals have been a gift—but then how do we introduce growth in faith and the development of deeper commitment to a faith community? Many of those who attended in-person worship four times a month a short time ago, may attend once a month now. How might we deepen community with these shifts in participation? Imagine someone attending worship online for perhaps six months and summoning the courage for in-person worship—how do we welcome, affirm, and give stewardship to their growth in faith?

These pastors were asking a pivotal question, and a Wesleyan one: how do we go deeper than worship as we develop world-changing disciples of Jesus? Part of John Wesley’s genius was not just field preaching but following up with small groups and formation in a faith community.

Luke notes in the Book of Acts:
‘The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.’ (Acts 2:42 CEV).

Note the door to the deeper aspects of community: ‘they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.’ I write today to invite you to a holy Lent, and as you consider moving from Epiphany into Lent, please consider your own formation. Is there a group or class you would participate in—not only for yourself but for the development of a faith community in this strange and fractured moment? What might it mean for you to ‘devote yourself to the apostles’ teaching?’

More deeply, consider the third general rule, as Bishop Job states it: ‘stay in love with God.’ There is nothing as transformative as a relationship with Jesus. Your love of God in Christ is the ultimate blueprint for transformation. Imagine that each of us observes a Holy Lent by staying in love with God and committing to study and faith community development—we would surely grow discipleship communities that increase radically inclusive love and justice. I will commit to the same in my own life.

Know that I am praying for you.

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