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Called to discipleship: A lost practice

by Valora K Starr

Discipleship is not an everyday kind of word.

However, you cannot get very far in reciting the Women of the ELCA purpose statement without speaking it.

As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

Is God still creating women in God’s image and calling them to discipleship today? The answer is yes!

True, mainline denominations and their women’s organizations are experiencing declines in membership. And that is all the more reason to practice discipleship.

Women know Jesus’ instructions, and many respond.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18–20).

Many women know they should be disciples, but they are unclear what to do, or if they’re already doing it. Jesus’ words are still the blueprint for discipleship today, yet many might say, “I’m not a teacher, and on most days I’m not sure I understand what God has commanded me.”

Each disciple must establish her own practice of carrying out Jesus’ command. A doctor may be part of a practice with a team of doctors, but each physician brings her own gifts and skills to the group.

You can do that, too, as disciples. Here’s how to start:

  1. Claim your identity. Read Matthew 28:19–20.
  2. Examine the instructions. Read Women of the ELCA’s purpose statement. There you will find Matthew 
28:19–20 in greater details.
  3. Ask the Lutheran question: “What does this mean in 
my daily life?” Discipleship is daily practice.
  4. Journal. This will help you to be intentional and assess 
how you are practicing. 

Valora K Starr (valora.starr@elca.org) is director for discipleship for Women of the ELCA.