Discipleship is not meant to be done alone. Walking Together: Simple Steps for Discipleship by author Pastor Ted Doering is a Bible study intended for a group setting and written to inspire readers to live out discipleship in their communities. So, what does it really look like to incorporate this resource in your church’s Bible study calendar?
Pastor Joshua Brakhage at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, shares his insight on how his congregation used this book for disciple-making and encouraging church members to intentionally embrace their faith as they seek to follow Jesus.
Getting Started with Discipleship
So, why did Holy Trinity choose Walking Together for a discipleship Bible study series? Pastor Brakhage answered, “Walking Together emerged as a great resource for us because we would be able to use it in multiple ways. It became the launchpad for a Sunday morning preaching series, and because the book was designed to be read in community and each chapter comes with built-in discussion questions, it was an easy resource for small group leaders to embrace. We were able to recruit eleven new leaders who had never taken on a responsibility like that before to lead discussion groups on a weekly basis. Our old Sunday School hour became Discipleship Hour.
“The material in Walking Together presents important, core teachings of the faith in a way that guides a disciple into taking his or her next step.”
Goals for Discipleship Series
“A big goal was to give our congregation a shared experience. The journey of a disciple was meant to be shared. Like in many congregations, sometimes we only see that journey being shared during the hour we gather for the Divine Service. We wanted to propel Christ’s Church to trust the promises of Jesus and to seek to follow Him together with one another in their daily lives. Additionally, we hoped the approachable nature of Walking Together would lead to a great jumping-off point for families with students at our Lutheran school who don’t belong to Holy Trinity or don’t have a church home. We bought enough copies for each of our school families to have one too. Then we scheduled discussion groups to meet just after school drop-off and just before pick-up so parents could connect with one another and with our church members as we explore together what a life of Christian discipleship is all about.”
“We hope disciples at Holy Trinity embrace their calling as those who believe and belong to Jesus. Walking Together presents an easy, actionable definition of being a disciple: ‘a person who trusts the promises of Jesus and seeks to follow Him’ (p. 21). Big ideas from the book that I think are valuable include the good news that the Gospel is bigger than we thought. As Pastor Doering says, the promises of Jesus ‘start at salvation’ (p. 31), but they don’t end there!
“The three questions highlighted in Walking Together—‘What is God saying?’ (p. 122), ‘What is God calling me to do?’ (p. 126), and ‘What is my next step?’ (p. 127)—are very helpful in giving disciples a way to apply their theology: hear what God has to say in His Word and then follow where He leads! Emphasizing the everyday nature of discipleship in our vocations, Christian identity, and how we tell our Christian story helps to transform believers into disciples. We’re not just thinking about it—we’re living it. Jesus’ mission never stopped, and now He’s taking us with Him!”
Following Jesus with One Another
In following up with Pastor Brakhage when Holy Trinity’s discipleship series concluded, he expressed that the response to the series was even better than expected. Four hundred ninety-nine copies of Walking Together were given away to families at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and School as a result of the series. Eight discussion groups met throughout each week as the series progressed. These groups became incubators for rich faith discussions, all guided by Pastor Doering’s book.
Several groups saw quieter congregation members come out of their shells and engage in the series unlike their previous participation in past group settings. One group that had been meeting just to discuss the book even decided to continue walking together as a small group Bible study.
Finally, Pastor Brakhage noted that the biggest takeaway for him was reflecting on “what a gift it is that when we’re all following Jesus together, we find ourselves walking more closely with one another as well, in ways we don’t have to fear being vulnerable.”
Quotations in blog taken from interview with Joshua Brakhage and from Walking Together: Simple Steps for Discipleship, copyright © 2021 Ted Doering, published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Join together as a church and dig into what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.