At Gilead We Seek … Openness. We believe that Christian should be OPENING their hearts to God's Word and to one another. This means belonging to a small group where we are challenged to love each other and to love God's will.
In Matthew 28, Jesus tells us that the mission of the Church is to "make disciples". This means that even though the Church does many different things and engages in many different ministries, all of those activities and ministries should be targeted to produce disciples.
What is a disciple?
Disciples of Jesus are people who apply their growing understanding of God's design and desires to every aspect of their life on earth while trusting in God to give them the strength to please Him. The Bible calls this growing "in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus." (2 Peter 3.18) This means that a disciple will (1) want to know more about how God wants him or her to live and (2) rely more upon the strength of God to help him to live that way. When someone's life looks like this and is looking more and more like this with each passing year, then that person is a disciple and will see ever greater evidence of God's presence and power in his or her life. Jesus put it this way, "If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8.31-32) Jesus means that the life of a disciple is "marked" by truth that sets that person free through the work of God in his or her life. The evidence that God is indeed present and working in our lives is called "fruit".
How Is Fruit Produced?
At this point, it is natural to ask how such fruit is produced. Is it something that happens in a moment? Does it require work on our part? Should we expect to be perfectly fruitful in our lives? The Bible is clear that a fruitful life of discipleship is not produced by being struck by a spiritual "lightning bolt". There is no "Minute Rice" maturity; no drive-thru discipleship; no fast-food path to fruitfulness. Discipleship is the process of faithfully walking a path throughout the course of one's life. Jesus said that, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9.23) So discipleship is a daily commitment to follow Jesus as He guides us in His path. This means that discipleship takes time. Praying one prayer or signing one card doesn't prove that we are disciples of Jesus. Instead, consistently walking with the Lord day by day for the rest of our lives and bearing fruit is what proves that we are His followers. This is why Jesus said that, "You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers." (John 15.8)
What Fruit Should I Look For In My Life?
As followers of Jesus we should expect to see Him conducting a process of change in our lives that produces noticeable fruit. At Gilead, we believe that fruitful discipleship can be marked by progress in four general areas of our lives. We remember these areas by using the word HOME.
We grow by:
Harmonizing Our Lives with our Father and family
Opening Our Hearts to God's truth
Meeting Others' Needs through meaningful ministry and
Engaging Our World with the gospel and love of Jesus
This means that the ministries and meetings of Gilead are intended to help you continue to experience the process of growing in these four areas.
How Do I Commit Myself To This Process?
The first and most important step in committing to the process of life change is to talk to God and tell Him that you understand that He saved you so that you could live a fruitful life of service for Him. Another important first step is asking God to give you greater commitment to the people of Gilead. For example, "Lord I know that you want use this church to grow me in my faith and that you want to use me to help others in this church to grow in their faith. Please help me to commit to your process of life change in this church."
The other pamphlets in this series will give you greater detail on how you can grow more in tune with what God is doing here at Gilead and how you can find a community of caring and accountability that will challenge you to be ever more open to how God will use you to minister to the needs of others. And finally to explain ways that you can begin to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ with those who don't know Him.