As we view the vast expanse of God’s renewal of the world, we realize that God’s work isn’t just happening “out there.” He begins to re-form every nook and cranny of our lives too! This transformation can be difficult and slow, but a beautiful new version of “us” emerges as we trust that God is, in Christ, forming us into the person he has made us to be.
At Advent, our main avenues of formation outside of Sunday worship are Small Groups and Gospel Friendships, which start in the process of Relational Discipleship. We also offer other opportunities to grow through classes and Bible studies, especially during the summer. To learn more about our Summer Studies, click here.
When people think about growing in their relationship with God, they often think of classes, or books, or retreats. All of those are very helpful, but we believe that transformation also occurs in the mundane aspects of life: family, friends, work, personal devotion, and in the sheer perseverance of following Jesus even on the difficult days.
Throughout Scripture and church history, the spiritual discipline of Gospel Friendships have been a key component to personal, day-by-day transformation. Gospel Friends talk regularly about their faith, share normal life together, encourage one another, and challenge one another to welcome God's gospel in their lives. It's a simple but powerful idea! The practice of Gospel Friendship has been largely lost in our culture, and we want to help recover it.
There are two stages to our Gospel Friendship ministry at Church of the Advent:
1. RELATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP
To get you started on the journey of Gospel Friendship, we offer a 12-week process called Relational Discipleship that pairs you with another person at Advent and allows you to explore what God is doing in your life, right now, together.
“What does it look like?”
Relational Discipleship at Advent is a process, not a program. We meet you where you’re at in your spiritual journey, working together with you to choose a guide to walk through the journey with you. After that initial phase, every pair looks different…but here’s a typical scenario. Once a week, you and a guide will sit down over coffee and a lesson that reveals some aspect of God’s grand story. You’ll chat about the week, pray together, and then dive into the material, asking “How does my story weave into God’s story?” In the process, you’ll probably be exposed to some new ways of following Jesus and be encouraged to incorporate them into your day-to-day routine.
"What curriculum do you use?"
Relational Discipleship is based on a 12-week curriculum written by Pastor Rob, with input from others in the congregation. It's one-part Bible Study, one-part reflection, and one-part discussion-starter. The curriculum is a resource intended to guide your conversations, as well as serve as ongoing resource for helping you live the Christian life. You can download the Relational Discipleship Booklet here.
“What have others said?”
People who have gone through the process have testified that Relational Discipleship connected them into our Advent family more deeply, led to emotional and relational healing, helped them discern God’s leading more clearly, or gave them a new sense of purpose and mission in life. Every journey has been unique!
2. gospel FRIENDSHIPS
After Relational Discipleship, we encourage you to continue the spiritual discipline of Gospel Friendship. You might pursue a Gospel Friendship with someone you're already close to, or you might seek out someone whose life you respect.
The three ingredients of any healthy Gospel Friendship are:
1. Regularity - It's important to set a goal for how often you want to connect, simply because life will get in the way otherwise!
2. Intentionality - Gospel Friends, quite simply, talk about and share their spiritual journeys. For some this may be awkward, and for others it may be easy. However, we all need someone to share the journey. Intentionality is what distinguishes the discipline of Gospel Friendship from other friendships. Gospel Friends are intentional in centering their friendship around God. Other friendships may also include spiritual encouragement, and even deep sharing, but Gospel Friendships are formed and nurtured for this particular purpose.
3. Flexibility - Even as we seek to be intentional, it's crucial to keep in mind that there are many ways to share our spiritual lives! Here are just a few suggestions:
Study the Bible or a meaningful book together
Dialogue about where God has been working in your lives
Confess sin to one another
Pray with and for one another
You can find more resources and questions to guide your experience of Gospel Friendship here.