This blog was written by Harvest Member, Danyelle Catoe.
For years I have been trying to step in to this thing called “discipleship.” I have learned a lot about what discipleship looks like over the past few years and I’ve been eager to get plugged in and start a discipleship relationship with a younger girl or group of girls. And for years, I have tried and failed. I have had great conversations, but minimal formal discipleship groups, despite my prayers and greatest efforts. As Harvest began Path 1 of the Gospel Journey, I prayed through what group of women to reach out to about starting a group. I had so much fear in praying that because, as a single gal, I felt presumptuous to “lead” anything - there is still so much that I don’t know! But that doesn’t disqualify me! As I seek to learn to follow the Lord and live for His glory, I know that I can invite others to join me in the journey, and pray that the Lord uses me as a vessel in the process even as I continue to learn from those around me. The Lord has opened so many opportunities for discipleship through the Gospel Journey at Harvest. I know that many of us here at Harvest have been stepping into our fear and inviting others to follow us as we follow Christ. I'm honored to be able to share the story of what God has done in and around my circle of relationships and I pray it is an encouragement to all of us in our fear and our following of Christ.
As I prayed, I was led to a group of women who are all in their early twenties. I had seen them around church and I began initiating time with them outside of Sunday mornings - we would go to lunch, hangout out over the weekend and we started to become friends. As we grew in our friendship, I asked them if they would like to walk through the Gospel Journey together. Everyone seemed super excited about it, so we started a group text (which is obviously what makes it “official”) and began to plan a time to meet.
We started walking through the book of John together and talking about how to study the Bible, shadows of Christ in the Old Testament, prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament, systematic theology, how to live as believers, prayer, theology of work, and what Jesus must have been like as a person who walked among us. The process has all the grace of a giraffe on ice, but we are leaning in to the Scriptures and engaging the process of discipleship as we study God’s Word. So far, while our time together hasn't been perfectly led or organized, it has brought a deep, abiding joy in God and His promises for me and the girls I'm blessed to meet with.
As we’ve been meeting, we’ve found a very simple method that works well for our group. Each week, we individually read through the passage in our own devotional times. At our weekly meeting, we spend the first part of our group catching up on life. As we get to a point where everyone has gotten to share a bit about their week, I’ll pull out my Bible, pray for our time together and ask this super deep question: “So, what did you guys see in this week’s reading?”
That is ALL that I do. Seriously.
For those of us that have read the passage before group that week, the Lord has spent the past five - seven days bringing His Word to life to each of us. For the girls that haven’t read yet, they will skim through the passage as we discuss and bring up points that stand out to them. Occasionally we will also pair an activity to our study to help us put what we are learning in to practice. For example, when we read through the High Priestly prayer in John 17, we spent most of our time in prayer for other believers, and sometimes we’ll spontaneously “love prank” others to get in the practice of “stirring up one another to love and good works” that Hebrews 10 talks about.
As we’ve been meeting, we are able to talk through not only what we’ve learned from John, but also walk together through how we’ve learned it. The questions from the Gospel Journey bookmark are simple enough to remember but bring us to deep abiding truths of Scripture. We practice those questions in our group so that it becomes habit for each of us to ask those in our own personal time in the Word. Each time I come to Scripture, I am thinking through (1) Observation: What do I see in this passage? (2) Interpretation: What does this teach me about God, the Gospel, or myself? and (3) Application: What is my biggest take away and how did God’s word challenge how I think/live?
These questions, while they may seem basic, have been able to lead us in to very deep conversation and prompted us to ask difficult questions. As a group we are able to talk about theology, interpret Scripture with Scripture, dive in to the Word, and find other resources that help answer the questions we don’t know the answer to. Together we’re able to wrestle with the text and learn more about the God that we worship.
However, even in the midst of the joy that comes with what we’re learning in Scripture, life happens. And life can get messy. To have the privilege of sitting with these girls in the midst of the pain of life has been such a picture of the body of Christ. We were not designed to do life alone and it has been an honor to get to really do LIFE with this Gospel Journey group. That involves a lot of time outside of our weekly time in the Word- we are hanging out on weekends, talking on the phone, and processing through what is going on in life. To get a deep intimacy in our group, we have to invest time with each other regularly and be honest about what is really going on in our lives. There is a lot of fear in being vulnerable, but the experience of being together in the midst of the pains and heartaches of life makes it worth it. To watch the Lord commune with us as we confess sin, share struggles, and sit together in joy and sadness is truly transformative. When He meets us there, we are able to learn where we can take our struggles, loneliness, hurts, stories, and joys - Jesus meets us in all of that!
As we’ve made our way through the book of John, I have loved getting to see how the Scripture comes alive and meets us in our daily experiences. The Word is truly living and active. To watch the Word shape, mold, sanctify, and breathe life in to His daughters is pretty sweet. It hasn’t been easy as the Lord is pursuing the hearts of His children. We often feel like we do not have what it takes to follow Christ, but we are able to follow the example that Christ sets before us in the feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21). In this story, we see Jesus challenge the disciples to feed the crowd. The disciples are able to find five loaves of bread and two fish. As they offer that to Jesus, He blesses the food and allows the disciples to distribute that to the crowd. To their astonishment, they have enough to feed the entire crowd, but also have twelve baskets of food left over - conveniently one basket for each disciple. This is such a beautiful picture of our pattern for ministry. I come to the Lord offering my gifts - it isn’t enough to feed everyone, but Jesus is able to break the bread and multiply it to feed the crowd. As the disciples take the food to the crowds, they model for us a pattern of ministering to others and returning to Christ so He can fill the baskets. As we seek to make disciples, we must demonstrate and cling to a pattern of allowing Christ to fill our baskets and feed us as we feed others.
It is only the power of Christ and the enabling of the Spirit that will sustain us as we seek to share Christ and make disciples. That is the only thing we can cling to, the only thing that will never fail. It was Jesus taking my small offering and multiplying it that led to this group of girls walking through the Gospel Journey together, and we pray that He would continue to multiply that offering. As we began the Gospel Journey group, we knew that it was just that - a journey. It isn’t the “Gospel Wanderlust” - we journey with purpose. Journeys have a destination. We launch our groups with the vision and purpose of replicating and multiplying out. As someone wise once shared with me, we see the masses through the (wo)man, and build the (wo)man to reach the masses. In meeting with these girls now, I envision the countless women that they will continue to reach through a life of faithful ministry and discipleship, and I can’t wait to see when and how the Lord is going to launch them out!