New Hope UMC

See All The People

This is a 3 week study from the UMC as produced by Although it's a short study, it is critical to the mission of the church which is to go into the world and make disciples. And the timing could not be better for us as we have just completed a 12 week study, Life Is A Journey, that took us through what it means to be a Christian. Lesson #12 was entitled Inviting Others to Join You.

We have a long history of Bible study at New Hope. We have enjoyed the experience of studying God's word together for many years now. Countless hours have been spent with the prophets, the patriarchs, the apostles and Jesus. We are truly better Christians and followers of Jesus by having committed ourselves to this undertaking. Now we enter into a different type of study. The message here is "intentional discipleship" and is a straightforward approach to achieving what Jesus intended for us as his followers. It is led by Junious Dotson, the head of See All the People organization. He is assisted by Jacob Armstrong, pastor of Providence UMC, a church he founded 10 years ago and one in which intentional discipleship is practiced. Both of these presenters are gifted communicators and their message is clear and convincing. The three lessons are:

  1. Whose Job Is It to Make Disciples?
  2. Stop Fixing Your Church
  3. Discipleship Begins with Relationship

Each lesson begins with a short presentation by Dr. Dotson, followed by a discussion with he and Pastor Armstrong. These cover about 20 minutes so there is plenty of time left for discussion. There is a study guide available on the website. All of the lectures and discussions can be accessed online. Go to the site and scroll down to Learn More and Enroll and follow the instructions to set up an account.   


1: Whose Job Is It To Make Disciples?

October 24, 2019

We began a new study from, from Discipleship Ministries, an agency of the UMC. The study is led by Rev. Junius Dotson, assisted by Pastor Jacob Armstrong. Rev. Dotson is the CEO of See All The People and Pastor Armstrong leads a 10 year old church that has adopted the principles of intentional discipleship.

Before getting into Lesson 1, we watched an introduction video and a short movie about Sarah, a story of intentional discipleship at work. Rev. Dotson explains the concept behind the course, suggesting that the goal of "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world" is still intact, but that perhaps it needs some rethinking as to how we go about it. Intentional Discipleship is the working theory and it is presented in three lessons: Whose Job Is It, Stop Fixing the Church and Relationships.

Here is a quote Dotson uses in the course: "If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Perhaps this is a good thing to remember as we go through this course. The work must include a vision that must be shared and practiced by everyone. Pastor Armstrong has monthly meeting at his church to keep the vision on track. Nothing else is on the agenda during those meetings.

The job of making disciples, of course, belongs to all of us. It's not the pastor's or that of a committee. Everyone needs to be on board. This takes time obviously but it starts with each individual. The first milestone is following Jesus on purpose - intentionally. This is intentional discipleship. The church enables a deeper experience with God and the individual participates. Commitment to personal discipleship changes the culture of your church, creating a vital faith community.

In the discussion following the lecture video, Pastor Armstrong shared how his church, Providence UMC in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, used intentional discipleship to fulfill its mission through 4 phases. At Providence church, all:

  1. Seek God (worship).
  2. welcome people (invitational lifestyle)
  3. offer Christ (small groups)
  4. serve others (out of spiritual gifts).

These are the core concepts of their vision. How it happens involves much work, but the vision does not change. Align hearts and minds with a shared vision: "to see people who feel disconnected from God and the Church connect with Jesus."


2: Stop Trying to Fix the Church

November 14, 2019

Churches of all denominations are faced with declining membership and attendance. The response has often been that we are doing something wrong and we must do more to attract people. A praise band, a new fellowship center, feeding programs. etc. While these are fine and may work for a time, in the long they often manage to hide the real problem. Tonight the authors tell us how to go about changing the "fixing the church" mindset. First, we must rediscover the calling that we are to make new disciples. We learned in the last lesson that this is really the job of each of us - to make disciples. This mission for making new disciples then becomes a part of everything the church does. The point is made that we already have a form of intentional discipleship in place in our church. People see us for who we are in church and in our daily lives. This may need some work and reshaping. This is where See All The People comes in. We must be willing to go to the people and see them as they are in order to fill Jesus' commandment to love our neighbor.

Next week we will talk about relationships and share some insights on how developing these are accomplished. First it is important to precede this discussion with an understanding of what must take place before these relationships happen. Pastor Armstrong suggests an approach involving reaching out to community leaders. These people have earned the trust of the community in outreach programs. They are already there and know the work that needs to be done. We can offer to "come alongside" those already serving people in the community. We go, we listen, and come alongside where someone is already connecting / seing / helping the people in our community

Rowesville is a small community but it offers opportunities for service. We are already invested in this through our Food Bank. There was some discussion generated that reaching out to community leaders in a directed, focused way could afford opportunities for service and making disciples.


3: Discipleship Begins with Relationships

November 21, 2019

In the final installment of See All The People, Rev. Dotson and Pastor Armstrong give us the essence of what achieving a mission of making disciples is all about. It's hard to imagine after 2,000 years of Christianity that we can come upon any groundbreaking ideas or new information. But that is exactly what this lesson feels like. Sometimes we have to try to get back to what we have lost. To what the early Christians owed their very existence to: working together, praying together and supporting each other. Relationships were a given in those meager circumstances, but the hard life they faced brought out the best in what following Jesus was all about. We now find ourselves in a society where those close relationships seem an option rather than a necessity. We are beset with television and social media to the extent that even the art of conversation is sometimes slipping away.

The authors are bringing the concept that discipleship begins with relationships. They must be authentic, organic and consistent. In other words, we are to seek out and develop relationships with people we encounter and those we are serving. Soup kitchens and food banks are fine but the idea is to bring the opportunity of knowing Christ to those we are serving. This occurs through individual contacts where people care about each other. You can't fake sincerity which is a trap we churches seem to fall into at times. We value our programs an missions certainly but we should care even more about the people we are reaching through them. Orgainic means that relationships are built in to the fabric of the church. It is the central theme of everything we do. It must be consistently applied in our church outreach, not just a once in a while thing.

Thiis had been a really good and eye opening series, althogh a short one. There is much more avaiilable from See All The People that we could explore. Thanks to Kevin for bringing this to us. And thanks to for putting this together.