For four years I took something for granted that I have since learned to cherish. That is, community. Community simply happened around me in my four years of undergrad education. I could venture out into the hallway of my dormitory at any moment to find life and energy. Friendships developed and were sustained with little effort because paths crossed organically. I never had to go out of my way to spend time with friends because our lives were ordered in such a way that we saw each other all of the time. Then, I graduated and things changed.
My wife and I found ourselves living on a city block next to neighbors we didn’t know. Our friends moved away from our town in pursuit of employment in various parts of the country. It was not uncommon for us to go weeks or months in between times of fellowship with our most dearly loved friends. We were simply too busy, as was everyone else. We found that in the “real world” you have to go out of your way to meet new people. We had become accustomed to being surrounded by peers with similar life experiences and interests since kindergarten. But now we found it necessary to make an extra effort in order to cultivate a sense of community.
One life lesson we’ve gleaned through our lives post-graduation is that community is precious. It is life-giving. We were made for it, and, consequently, it is essential to our happiness and health.
This is why I am grateful to The Discipleship Project and the Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) community at large. For the first time in five years I am surrounded by like-minded people who are called to ministry and are also grappling with the deepest mysteries of their faith.
I spend about half of my week on campus. The other half of my week is spent in full-time ministry in a small Midwest town one and a half hours from CTS campus. When I arrive at CTS for my three- to four-day stint of academic engagement, I fall into my newfound community with a need for a place to be utterly myself and to be encouraged. These needs have been met in a large part by my Discipleship Project cohort. In our times together I have sensed a real concern and affection for myself and my family. I have felt welcomed by them and am encouraged to know we are committed to one another for the next two years! This is what I believe The Discipleship Project is all about.
The Discipleship Project seeks to address a very important need—one that will be felt keenly by each of us in our ministries. We need to be in community with fellow travelers along the way. We need to share a place with others were we can be ourselves, free from the demands congregations place on their ministers. We need a place where we are sustained by loving friends. I hope that The Disciples Project will become that place for all who experience it.
Heath Jones is a full-time student and pastor. He is the senior pastor at Central Christian Church (DOC) in Van Buren, IN, where he serves alongside his wife, Kelly. They have one daughter (2 years old) named Josie and a dog named Mr. Jones.
The Discipleship Project is a groundbreaking approach to theological education at Christian Theological Seminary that is inspired by Jesus’ pedagogy in the New Testament gospels. To request permission to repost this content, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.