GCTS Vision: Discipleship - Gordon Conwell

GCTS Vision: Discipleship



President & Professor of Missiology

[This is part 6 of a 7 part series on the community vision for Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. To become a thoughtful, loving, Christ-centered community of global discipleship.] 


Jesus called disciples. We register people in classes and call them students. Both words (disciples and students) have the same root, discipulus = student, but they have very different connotations.


When we use the expression “community of discipleship” as part of our aspiration at Gordon-Conwell, we mean this in two ways. First, we desire that our entire community (students, faculty, staff) actually are, themselves, committed disciples of Jesus, our Lord (an assumption we cannot take for granted). 


But also, we want to pursue both informal and formal patterns whereby we imitate the patterns Jesus himself modeled with his twelve disciples. Yes, students at Gordon-Conwell attend classes in a typical academic paradigm, but that is not all. We are also a worshiping, praying, caring community modeling Jesus throughout our shared lives.


However, this is not easy at an academic graduate school in the 21st century. Many students work full-time and only come to campus briefly to attend one or two classes per week. More and more students pursue their courses online—synchronously or asynchronously. Discipleship is complex; is it even possible? Yes.


Invitation to Discipleship

First, we acknowledge there are some students for whom personal discipleship is presently difficult because of job and/or family commitments. For these students, patterns of discipleship are still incidental and inconsistent. We are still thinking about how to invite these students into new patterns and practices.


Informal Discipleship

Second, many of students meet with faculty or staff on a semi-regular basis for prayer, discussion and sometimes to look at Scriptures together. Some students, staff or faculty initiate semi-formal mentoring relationships. 


Formal Discipleship

Finally, (and this is a growing subset) many students are meeting in dedicated relationships with faculty or staff on a regular basis to look at Scripture, pray, and discuss the Christian life together. These more formal relationships take place through our discipleship program headed up by Dr. Mateus de Campos and through the spiritual formation program of the Pierce Center led by Dr. Stephen Macchia. Our intention is to grow these more formal and intentional discipleship opportunities. I believe that it is out of such interpersonal commitments that our students will deepen their walk with Jesus Christ and will be better prepared to do the same in their churches. 


While we seek to uphold the highest academic standards, we also seek to grow as disciples, even as we are committed to make disciples of all nations. The Great Commission begins with our own intentional discipleship and spurs us on to becoming a thoughtful, loving, Christ-centered community of global discipleship.


Scott W. Sunquist, the new President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, writes a weekly blog, “Attentiveness” which is posted each Monday morning on the Gordon-Conwell web site. He welcomes comments, responses and good ideas.


Read more from Scott on his blog: Attentiveness.

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