“The Discipleship Experience provided me a place to be known and a framework for discipleship.”
In Spring 2016, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary received a generous donation from a friend of the seminary to introduce a formal discipleship program for students. By that fall, Rev. Thomas Pfizenmaier, Ph.D. was recruited to lead The Discipleship Initiative. In its first year, eight faculty and staff discipled thirty students interested in developing and growing their spiritual journey with the understanding that they, too, would later disciple other students. Since then the program has continued to multiply.
“I left a very strong community when I came to campus. The first couple months built foundations for good friendships, but it was still easy to feel not known even around friends. In the midst of that, meeting with Jon provided a safe context that allowed me to not be alone with the burdens I carried. As a result, our times strengthened me to continue to grow spiritually and invest in my seminary experience. Moreover, the initiative gave me a framework for discipleship.”
The sole purpose of The Discipleship Experience is to create disciples of Jesus who will create more disciples.
“Despite growing up in the church, I had never been formally discipled. Given my preference for processes, discipleship in my mind was more of a tutor taking you through a curriculum. Instead, Jon’s example showed me discipleship consists more of walking alongside someone and building upon the work God is already doing through his Spirit and Word. I’ve been grateful how that has worked itself in my life. And I imagine those the Lord later gives me to disciple will be grateful for it as well.”
The Discipleship Experience is four semesters long, with breaks for reading weeks and assumes one hour per week with their discipler. The key focus of the program is to provide an opportunity for one-to-one discipleship that encourages the student’s personal relationship with God to develop alongside the rapid growth of their theological understanding. Each student makes a two year commitment to the program, as a disciple in the first year, and as a discipler in the second year. Just before the beginning of the Fall Term each year, interested students can attend an information session during orientation to provide greater insight into the program, its design, and expectations for participants.