Quest UMC in the Augusta District has more than 90 members currently participating in Disciple Fast Track. Fast Track is an adaptation of the original Disicple Bible Study that's ideal for busy people who want to fit a comprehensive Bible study into their schedule. The commitment is 24 weeks rather than 9 or 10 months. The response at Quest has been so positive that we reached out to Shauna Kenney, wife of church pastor the Rev. John Kenney, to find out more:
Q: Why did Quest decide to try Disciple Fast Track?
I'd heard a friend from another Methodist church talking about her current Disciple group, and remembered when I'd taken the original version (about 20 years ago!) and wanted our church family to have the same great experience of digging into God's Word, and helping it to come alive in their lives. I felt that the Lord really put this on my heart, and that is why I approached John about doing it at our church.
Q: How many participants do you have and how did you get them on board?
We have 93 participants. We promoted it by John mentioning it in the worship service -- he even worked it into a sermon when he was challenging the congregation to be in the Word -- and by having announcements about it in our e-newsletter, our bulletins and by having it on the announcements that are put on our screens in the worship space prior to the worship service beginning. Of course, we also personally talked about it with the church family as we had opportunities. Honestly, I feel like the response has been overwhelming, and it didn't feel like we even had to try that hard to get people on board-- obviously, the Lord knew this is what our church needed right now! I'm thrilled that so many people are really wanting to go deeper into God's Word, and really consider what it means to be Disciples.
Q: For such a large number of participants, how many leaders and small groups did you divide into?
We are dividing into 5 groups of about 18-19 people. It is also helpful that the way the program is set up, we will also be breaking into smaller groups within our 5 groups to study and discuss specific passages when we're together. We want our groups to experience community together as well as studying the Word, and we're working on finding ways to do that. I'm sure we will learn a lot this year about how to do this well logistically as we do this for the first time!
Q: What were the highlights of the Fast Track version of Disciple?
Since we're just about to start this, I feel like I could better answer this question at the end of the year! But for now, I'd say that one great thing about it is that it is made to really get people into the Word in a way that hopefully will not be overwhelming to them. We are doing all that we can to make this the best experience for them as possible. We are providing free childcare for our families because we have so many families who have young children and we want to remove as many obstacles as we can that would keep them from making the commitment to this opportunity. We know that the Holy Spirit will do great things among his people as we study his Word and let it come alive in us!
Q: Is there anything you learned or found inspiring that you'd pass along to another church?
I'd say that in a world where people are SO busy, you'd think that maybe people wouldn't be willing to make the commitment to a program like this -- because even though it's "fast track", it is still a big commitment to do the work each day and to meet each week. From what we've seen so far, though, people ARE willing to commit because they desire to be in God's Word and have a closer relationship with Him and with each other...so my advice would be for other churches to give it a try!
Learn more about Quest UMC at http://thequestonline.com/ and learn more about Disciple Fast Track at cokesbury.com.