On the heels of a successful first book, conference leaders are now preparing to release another multipart sermon series on discipleship.
Titled “Come Follow Me: A Disciple’s Journey Through Lent,” it will be released in January to use this Lent, which begins Feb. 26 and runs until Easter.
Produced through the Discipleship ministry area of Conference Connectional Ministries, the project is led by the Revs. Jim Arant and George Donigian. Five South Carolina United Methodist pastors contributed to the book, authoring various sections.
Arant said the book will be available this month (January) online and in printed form.
“The first Come Follow Me sermon series distributed over 400 copies in the conference, over 40 copies were requested from outside the conference and mailed and an unknown number of copies downloaded from the conference website,” Arant said.
Donigian said one guiding hope for both of the sermon-study series has been to help churches focus on discipleship formation, taking seriously the Wesleyan understanding of being made perfect in love.
“Sometimes the church gets so caught up with institutional survival that it forgets about formation, and this series offers a necessary corrective,” Donigian said.
Dr. Laura Canine wrote the introduction and authored the first week’s topic, The Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17). The Rev. Eric Grayson wrote Week Two, The Wilderness and Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). The Rev. Zackary Dillard wrote Week Three, The Beatitudes, Salt and Light (Matthew 5:1-16). The Rev. Emily Scales Sutton wrote Week Four, Prayer and Attitude (Matthew 6:1-18). And Dr. Robin Dease wrote Week Five, Healing, Exorcism, Service, Following (Matthew 8:14-27).
In her introduction, Canine notes that the five-part series focuses on the early chapters of Matthew’s Gospel and is designed to help pastors and congregations navigate the season of Lent with a passionate calling toward discipleship.
“Just as the journey through Lent is characterized by peaks and valleys over time with seasons of repentance and renewal, falling down and battling repeated temptations, embracing an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and being sent out into the world in mission and ministry, we will follow our Savior throughout various points during his work on earth,” Canine writes.
Donigian said the leader guide includes practical experiences in spiritual formation so that the participants grow in mind and spirit.
Canine notes the first week enables readers to join with Christ in his baptism in the Jordan River. The second delves into Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness. In the third, readers meet up with Jesus teaching those who will listen about kingdom truths, which seem almost nonsensical to the rational mind—such as “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” In the fourth week, readers gather with Jesus as He gives practical instruction and the necessary tools on how to go about living a Spirit-led life of prayer and fasting. And in the fifth week, readers plunge into Jesus’s hands-on ministry, healing a man with leprosy, exorcising demons, calming storms and more.