Pathways

Our Pathways Journey of Intentional Discipleship

You can learn more about the Pathways journey of intentional discipleship by reading the PATHWAYS WELCOME and PATHWAYS TRAVEL GUIDE.  Copies of these guides are available in the church office or in the atrium as you enter the sanctuary.  Please contact the church office or Sandra Boedeker if you would like more information.

 

The intentional discipleship program at FUMC, Graham is called, “Pathways.”  After almost two years of planning Pathways was started in Fall 2014.  Some of the information and guidelines about Pathways are listed below.

Pathways

The Bible shares that discipleship revolves around a relationship with God through our Savior Jesus Christ, and relationships with other people.   The essence of these relationships was revealed by Jesus when he shared the two great commandments in Luke 10:27, “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is much more than being a member of a church.  It is letting the redeeming love of God in Jesus Christ transform our hearts, words, and actions, so that we serve and glorify God in all we do.  At First United Methodist Church of Graham we understand our mission as making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by knowing, loving, and serving God.

Pathways was designed by our church to help the disciples of Jesus Christ at First United Methodist Church in Graham to journey and grow in their faith.   All Christians grow and move in their faith in different ways, but we are all traveling on a faith journey led by God.

Pathways is designed around three themes:  Knowing, Loving, and Serving God. 

First United Methodist Church of Graham designed Pathways to help disciples grow in their faith through an intentional process.  We wanted this process to involve every age and stage of the faith journey.  Our goal is to help every disciple of Jesus Christ at First United Methodist Church of Graham to be engaged in a discipleship journey and to grow as a committed Christian.

At the heart of Pathways is a study called Journey 101.  This three-part study explores discipleship through the topics of knowing, loving, and serving.  A brief definition of each area would be:

            Knowing:  Exploring the good news of the Bible and discovering Bible study tools and

                        Resources to deepen your understanding of God and the Scriptures.

            Loving:  Experiencing spiritual transformation through spiritual practices that will help

you fall more in love with God and grow in your relationship with God and

others.

            Serving:  Understanding the biblical context for service that will enable you to use your

                        hands, your time, and your spiritual gifts to serve others and share Christ.

Each age level in our church family is part of an intentional plan of learning.  This plan of learning incorporates elements of knowing, loving, and serving God.  During the year all three elements are addressed although one may be a focus for a specific amount of time.  We have a plan of spiritual growth for our children, youth, and adults.  Growth in belief and action is one of the important ways that we can experience and witness God transforming our lives.  As we center on knowing, loving, and serving God, the love that Jesus requires of all disciples is made manifest in our lives.

Preschool Children

We provide a loving, nurturing, caring, and protected environment for the youngest in our church family.  All of our nursery caregivers are carefully screened and trained so that we maintain the highest standards of care.  As children make the transition to age three, they begin to learn more about God through Sunday School.  Parents are provided a “Parent Page” that provides an overview of what the children will be learning each quarter in Sunday School.  The lessons utilize resources that enable our children to begin learning the basic Bible stories through lessons appropriate to their age.  We also offer a quality weekday preschool during the school year for children age three through pre-kindergarten.  For three days each week the children learn the skills and tools to grow as individuals and to prepare for kindergarten.

Not all children of a similar age are academically or socially on the same level, but we believe that all children can know that God loves them, that they can talk with and respond to God, that we are created by God to love, and that church is a secure place where people care and listen to them.

Elementary Children

Sunday School for children in kindergarten through fifth grade utilizes a rotation format of learning centers: computers, storytelling, games, science, art, music, cooking, and movies.   Rotation through these learning centers exposes them to a deeper knowledge of the Bible, provides participation in appropriate mission projects, and gives them opportunities to discover the importance of caring, prayer, giving, and serving.

We want our children in the elementary ages to begin relating to God as Creator, Jesus as the Son of God, and God through the Holy Spirit.  This is the time to teach them to be comfortable with prayer, to understand God has created and loves our world, and to know that they are important to God.   This is a time when children can expand their role in the church family by serving as acolytes, singing, playing bells, and participating in special worship services.  Children should begin to understand they are participants in worship and not observers.

Youth

Our youth in grades 6-12 have a wider variety of learning formats.  They are discovering how to make their faith personal and how to live out their faith.  These goals are met through Sunday School, as well as weekday, weeknight, and other special learning and mission opportunities.  We want our youth by the time they graduate from high school to have a good understanding of the Bible and to have meaningful experiences in worship, prayer, and care for others.  We want them to have personal experiences in mission and outreach that will shape their faith as they grow as disciples.

During this important stage of growth our youth can begin to identify their gifts in God’s kingdom.  They can become more involved in the church family by volunteering to serve, beginning a serious reflection on scripture, and reflecting and discussing faith, moral, and ethical issues from a Christian perspective.  This is a time for our youth to gain a sense of self and to belong to large and small groups.  Through this time of growth the foundational experiences of childhood are shaped and formed into the beliefs that will guide them as adults.

Adults

At First United Methodist Church we are intentional about nurturing adults in their faith and recognize that people are at different ages and stages of their spiritual journey.  Our goal is to offer all adults, regardless of where they are on their journey, opportunities to grow in their personal relationship with Christ and with others.

Opportunities for growth include a strong adult Sunday School program with a variety of classes, weekday/weeknight short-term and longer-term Bible studies, faith-focused workshops and seminars, and topical studies.  There are also many opportunities for adults to be hands-on and to “grow by doing” through our extensive community outreach ministries and mission trips.

Our goal is for all adults to be a participant in a group study of Journey 101: Knowing, Loving, and Serving God, which will be offered on an on-going basis.   We want all adults to grow in their faith, to connect their faith to their own life experiences, to grow in their understanding of the Bible as a guide for their lives, to grow in their relationship with others, and to use their spiritual gifts for serving in the name of Christ.  We hope all adults will be involved in at least one ministry area in addition to worship.

We invite all adults to join in this grand journey of knowing, loving, and serving God as we strive to be a community of committed Christians living Christ-centered lives.  Wherever you find yourself on this trip of a lifetime – in the exploration, planning, packing, mapping, first steps, refueling, you name it – we are here to travel with you.

Where am I on my path?

Discipleship is a life-long process.  It is a journey that expands and grows with us as we enter into a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.  As we follow Jesus and desire to grow in our faith, we learn and build upon the foundations of the faith that have been handed down through the ages.  Because we grow in our relationship with Jesus and travel in our faith journey, everyone is at a different place and stage of the journey.  Some of us may just be recognizing that we are on the pathway while others have been traveling and exploring their faith and relationship with God for many years.

If you are not sure just where you are in your faith journey, here are some ways to reflect on your pathway and to see where you are and where you might want to go next.

New on the Path – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, but I really don’t know much about the Bible or how to grow in my faith

Occasional Traveler – I believe in Jesus as my Savior and try to occasionally read the Bible and pray, but I would like to do more and to do it better.  I may not be sure where to turn next to grow in my faith.

Seen the sites – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I have been discovering how to know, love, and serve God for many years.  I have experienced a variety of learning settings, but I am still looking for new ways to grow.  I feel that my faith is pretty well grounded and would like more guidance on the next step in my faith journey.

Well-Traveled – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I have shared in what seems to be every Bible study and mission experience that has been offered.  I feel that my faith is solid, grounded, and I have no doubt about my faith relationship.  I am ready to explore spiritual disciplines, deeper theological discussions, or more hands-on experiences to grow in my faith journey.  I know there is more I can do to explore and deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Adventurous Traveler – I believe in Jesus as my Savior, and I would like new and exciting ways to deepen my faith journey.  I want to take the road less traveled and discover God’s deepest blessings for my life.

What is my next step on this pathway?

Because each of our pathways is different on our faith journey, there is no one pathway for all people.  God leads each of us in different ways, using our gifts of the Spirit and our desire to work in God’s kingdom.  Because we believe that God leads each of us in different ways and that all people learn differently, as a church family we intentionally provide a variety of settings to grow in your faith.

We believe that one important role of the church is to nurture, encourage and challenge every disciple as we strive to grow in our faith.  Our church family provides a variety of opportunities to experience God in small groups, different worship settings, and in many hands-on experiences that allows us to use our spiritual gifts for God.  

Disciples always grow best when they are engaged in corporate worship, when they gather with other Christians to study, pray, learn and grow together, and when they discover their spiritual gifts and participate in God’s work through the ministry of the church.

The Pathways Destinations document is your guide for growing as a disciple.  Pathways Destinations will be published twice each year listing a variety of opportunities for knowing, loving, and serving God.  If you are unsure what direction to go next, ask God to lead you, listen to that leading, look at the opportunities in the Pathways Destinations, and then try a direction.  You can sign up for a Bible Study, join a small group, volunteer at the Friendship Meal, go on a mission trip, or work in one of the local mission sites.

If you have a specific interest or area of study you would like to pursue or feel God leading you to discover and do not see it listed in the Pathways Destinations, please visit with our Program Director or one of the pastors.  The types of classes and experiences offered will vary throughout the year.

Let the compass guide you!

Look for the compass logo that accompanies Pathways.  When you see the compass around the church and in printed materials, you will know that something important and exciting is happening as we grow as disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world through knowing, loving, and serving God.

Pathways – Additional Information

Three Core Classes

We determined there were core beliefs that all believers should know or be exposed to in order to better grow in their faith.  We determined that the study, Journey 101, provided the core basics we believe are important.  These classes are taught on a rotating basis.

Points of Interest

We call our seasonal or special studies “Points of Interest” for adults.  These can include any number of topics or emphasis.  The goal is to rotate between Bible, spiritual, short and long term studies, as well as hands-on events.