At The Vale we model what we do after the ultimate Teacher and Leader Himself - Jesus Christ. We call this model The Pathway. Every member of our church family is moving along this path, growing in their relationship with our Creator and becoming more and more like the men and women He's calling us to be. The images below illustrate the concept behind our strategy.
About the Pathway
We are serious about making disciples. By emulating Jesus' fourfold strategy for reaching and developing new believers, we created a pathway for healthy church membership. Though discipleship requires us to learn new ideas and practices, our conviction is that discipleship is primarily caught rather than taught. Far too often, in too many places, discipleship simply becomes a process of learning information that we never actually use!
To counter this unhealthy trend, each step on our pathway is both instructional and relational. Our hope is that those who participate in this pathway toward maturity will become disciples who make disciples.
So how does it work?
Jesus frequently encountered large crowds of people, but from these a congregation of convictional followers emerged. Out of that multitude Jesus called the twelve to form a genuine community of faith. To deepen His discipleship efforts even further, Jesus invested in Peter, James, and John through intentional experiences leading to growth. To the best of our ability, we are seeking to make this pathway of discipleship our model.
Here's what it looks like in our setting.
Everyday we meet prospective people in the crowds who are curious about Jesus. Our hope is to help them know God through our initial witness and then on a greater level as they commit to our weekly worship and teaching ministries. Once a person is attending faithfully, our goal is to help them find community within our weekly Sunday School gatherings (or Bible Fellowship Groups). These groups are where meaningful relationships form and strategic partnerships for ministry are born. Out of the relational network within these communities, our next step is to make mature disciples within our annual Core groups of 3-5 people. These weekly meetings provide instruction, modeling, and most importantly, accountability for each of us to grow in our faith. After completing these pathway steps, we are ready to release our members to change the world by helping other potential disciples walk through the same process.
Discipleship is not just one thing among many that we do at The Vale. Our goal is that every ministry has a discipleship target that is measurable and life changing. We even created our logo to reflect our mission. Notice that each group in the pathway is represented below, and that the symbol for our core groups points outward. For us, discipleship is not an end, it is a means to reaching others so that they too can become disciples.