Asbury First has a long history of thriving small group ministry. We believe that small groups are a great way to connect with others, and to grow deeper in our faith.
The Discipleship Project at Asbury is an initiative to strengthen our connection with God and with each other through a growing number of small groups focused on Discipleship. These groups are called Classes after the original small group of our faith tradition.
The Discipleship Project is a network of Class & Band Meetings that covenant together to be accountable to a Methodist way of life.
We are a discipleship-focused initiative at Asbury First United Methodist Church to rekindle a movement in order to (1) reach new disciples and (2) deepen the discipleship of already practicing Methodists.
We help individuals deepen their discipleship in the community by:
|RECLAIMING THE METHOD||RENEWING THE MISSION||REIGNITING THE MOVEMENT|
|We are called Methodists because of the 'methodical discipleship' of our church ancestors. We aim to reclaim these practices by increasing participation in Class Meetings and Band Meetings that hold us accountable for faithful living and by apprenticing new Class Leaders.||Authentic discipleship has a concrete effect on our lives. It changes our hearts in a way that moves us to action. We aim to connect participating individuals and churches with opportunities to engage in solidarity-based ministries of compassion and justice in the broader community.||Using the framework of Class and Band Meetings, the early Methodist movement spread like wildfire. We believe that authentic and intentional discipleship is contagious. We aim to rekindle a multiplying movement that isn't bound by the walls of a church building but extends into our community.
We believe that disciples of Jesus Christ:
A Class Meeting is a small group of 10–12 people who commit to meeting weekly to intentionally discuss their lives and discipleship. Historically, Class Meetings have met to answer the question, "How is it with your soul?" Class Meetings provide participants with a weekly opportunity to reflect with others about the ways in which God is (or sometimes perhaps seemingly isn't) present in their lives.
A Band Meeting is a group of 4–6 people who covenant together to meet weekly to hold each other accountable for living a life of discipleship. Band Meetings are a more intimate commitment than Class Meetings in that they provide participants an opportunity to confess sins and shortcomings while striving together towards more holy living.
Professional musicians don't just gather for performances. They spend countless hours perfecting their technique between concerts.
For Christian disciples, weekly worship is an important practice — but worship attendance is not what marks us as followers of Jesus. Discipleship is about our day-to-day living. Faithfulness is about the ordinary small and large decisions we make every day and how they align with the gospel message of good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:18).
You don't learn an instrument by reading about how to play it, you learn by playing it — probably very poorly at first!
We believe that churches sometimes slip into emphasizing study over action. Sunday school curriculums, book groups, bible studies, trainings, and workshops can all be valuable tools, but the best way to really grow in our personal discipleship is to get out and do it! We learn how to follow Jesus by striving together to follow Jesus in tangible action-oriented ways.
A single musician can't properly perform a piece that was meant for a trio, quartet, or full orchestra - and ensembles don't practice in isolation. They need to practice their parts together, over and over, in order to successfully create the harmonies and textures of an entire work.
The only way to follow Jesus is in the community. John Wesley said: "There is no gospel, but a social gospel. There is no holiness, but social holiness." While personal piety is important, Christianity is necessarily practiced together. The Methodist model of Classes and Bands provides us with a framework for intentional discipleship and shared responsibility in the community.
There are tried and true methods and best practices for learning instruments. There are standard exercises and etudes that have been passed down and used by generations of musicians.
The Discipleship Project is simply a revival of a very old method. Over two hundred years ago a movement of Class and Band Meetings began. This localized grassroots-organizing approach to discipleship spread like wildfire, reached millions of people, and eventually birthed the many streams of Methodism we know today. It is time we return to our roots and embrace the tried and true method after which we are named!
Part of the program with the Discipleship Project is sharing stories of faith journeys and God's meaning in our lives. At the Together In Ministry Sunday — our first Sunday with in-person worship in over a year and a half — we shared a special litany about "What New Thing Has God Done in Your Life?". Please watch the video below to find the light that came during a dark year.