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Staying Focused on Our Common Call

Contributed by: The Discerning Our Common Call Steering Committee

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We have one purpose: To form people as disciples of Jesus Christ who participate in God’s mission of reconciliation in the world. We share a vision of the Diocese of New Jersey as an interconnected community of 138 schools of discipleship.

These past 20 months have been unprecedented in our lifetimes. Pandemic, political unrest, injustice, personal loss, and more have taken a toll on us as individuals and as the faith community of the Diocese of New Jersey. Recently, the Discerning Our Common Call Task Force got together to brainstorm ideas on how, at a time when so much else is clamoring for attention, we can remain focused on our common call of following Jesus. We have come up with a few ideas to share.

You do not have to do all of these things (or any one particular thing). Choose one to begin with. As that practice strengthens you, choose more, or share your own discipleship practices with us.

Focusing on Our Own Spiritual Strength

  • Read the Bible Use the lectionary, the Book of Common Prayer, or another structured reading program that helps you stay focused on the story of Jesus.
  • Note God’s presence in your daily life and always ask, “Where is Jesus in my life and what is he calling me to do?”
  • Commit regular time to listening for and noticing the voice of You might meditate in the sanctuary or in a natural setting; journal about the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  • Engage in daily prayer, take weekly sabbath days, and/or take frequent personal retreats, to listen for the presence and guidance of Christ in your
  • Engage a personal coach and/or a spiritual director who will help you hear and respond to God’s presence and mission in your work and
  • Eat well, stay physically active, get enough Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, a physical part of Christ’s Body in the world.
  • Be unafraid to say no to new requests for your time that may feel urgent but will not support your discipleship

These may sound like additional tasks to perform, but in fact, these are ways to lighten the other tasks in our lives, to receive the support that God offers, and find and fuel the holy joy and hope that make daily tasks and difficult challenges more attractive and doable. Plus, you’re growing closer to Jesus, and will find it easier to know what Jesus would have you do when decisions are urgent and you are busy.

What We Can Do with Friends and Family

  • Provide coaching and mentoring and Bible study to help others interpret the presence of God in their lives and follow Jesus
  • Plan time to gather with friends and family (virtually or in person) to share laughter, hope, and joy
  • Start a personal transformation group; gather others who will help you stay focused on the transformation Jesus is working in you, and help them in the same
  • Teach other people about Jesus so we have more resources, more partners in our
  • Spend time with children, seeing life through their eyes and using their vision to teach them about God, Jesus, and

One of the very best ways of strengthening our own discipleship, of feeling more rooted in our connection with Jesus, is to keep company with others who are also following Jesus. We don’t have to be experts to help someone else, and we don’t have to be new to learn from someone else. When we help one another on the way, we ourselves grow stronger and more connected with God.

Outreach Into the Community

  • Be courageous, in imitation of Christ, and take a stand on issues of social justice and equality
  • Find new opportunities to participate in community activities; seek the presence of Christ in places you have not yet

These practices can help you feel the urgency of discipleship, prayer, and faith at times when everything else tries to seem more urgent. In imitating Jesus, we also tap into Jesus’s power and strength to affect things that seem too big for us.

Growing in Christ with Our Church Family

  • Remain engaged on a congregational and diocesan level in worship and missional
  • Teach others about Jesus
  • Support congregational church leaders
  • Lead Bible study

Our congregations, and our diocese as a whole, are meant to be “schools for discipleship”, and help us to follow Jesus more closely. Because the work of our church is to follow Jesus together—to live as Jesus would have us live—taking an active part in that work will help remind us of  our common call, and keep Jesus’ mission an active part of our lives.