What My Gym App Taught Me About Discipleship at Churches
Working out can feel more like a chore than self-care. You must go to the gym. You must figure out what exercises you will do.
Two years ago, I downloaded an app literally called, “Workout.” They asked me a few questions about my goals and then created a plan for me. I head to the gym, open the app, and then follow the plan given to me. The app directs me, but I have the responsibility to go to the gym and pay for the app. It also provides tutorials on how to work out.
This year at Browncroft, the church I serve, we focused on four habits – spend time with God (prayer and Bible reading), spend time with others (small groups), know and use your gifts (serving and giving, and share your faith (witnessing and inviting). These habits partner well with the rhythms of Rooted.
These habits walk the tension of personal investment and support from the church. At the end of the day, the question churches are asking about discipleship is, “How are we inspiring and helping individuals to engage their faith Monday-Saturday?”
I suspect if we asked that question at the church you serve, we would get a variety of answers including classes, programs, different groups, pathways, etc. Interestingly, my gym app has little fanfare. It simply directs me to a workout plan. It doesn’t give me five steps before working it. There’s an element of discipleship and working out that’s far more caught than taught.
When you consider people going deeper in their discipleship, our goal is to see them experiencing the Gospel in their habits and rhythms. We hosted Jairus Williams, the Director of Partnerships at Rooted Network, at Browncroft, and he said this, “Once people are in a rhythm of attending Sunday morning, participating in a small group, engaging daily devotion, serving, and giving…that adds up in a week.”
What if, as churches, we lead people in the discipleship process just like my workout app? It would probably create clarity. We might end up doing less to see more life-change in individuals. Perhaps, that’s why Rooted has resonated with churches. It provides one-step for people to experience following Jesus in a holistic picture.
In the same line of thinking, we created a Habit Journal that helped people engage their faith on a daily basis prompting them to consider their Bible reading, prayers, serving, and what they experienced in small groups. We didn’t just want to tell them what to do, but like my gym app, we wanted to help them see how to do it.
Chase Replogle in his latest book said, “I routinely find that God asks far less of us than we realize.” As churches and leaders, do we ask more from people than God does? I think in many ways a workout app reminds us that discipleship is simple, but not easy. It really comes down to the basics including rhythms and habits.
Peter Englert is Adult Ministries Director at Browncroft Community Church. He graduated from the University of Valley Forge with a B.A. in Pastoral Ministry and a M.A. in Theology. He also blogs at smallgroupnetwork.com and peterenglert.com