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Spence Network Update: Discipleship Community of Practice


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This evening begins the first day of a three-day retreat at CrossRoads Camp & Conference Center for churches participating in Spence Network’s Discipleship Community of Practice.

We asked Laura McDaniel, Network Catalyst for Spence, “What is a Discipleship Community of Practice?”

Laura wrote:

Over the course of the last several years, there has been a discipleship movement across Virginia Baptist life where a number of pastors/their church teams have been engaged in huddles and learning about discipleship through the lens of Lifeshapes.

In 2012 we gathered several pastors together to begin to answer the questions: ‘now that we are using this, what’s next? How do we use this to build the ‘out’ of the Triangle in a missional context’?

Together we developed a process that would be unique to Virginia Baptists, one that would:

  • help innovative churches move from ‘now’ to ‘next’ and build a discipling culture outward with a missional focus,
  • connect these churches together for continued inspiration, encouragement and accountability,
  • begin to adjust the metrics by which success is viewed.

In 2013 we just completed the ‘beta’ Community of Practice (CoP) with 6 churches from across Virginia (Northminster Church in Richmond, Chestnut Grove in Earlysville, Grace Hills in Appomattox, Heritage Baptist in Farmville, Woodland Baptist in Arrington, Webber Memorial in Powhatan). Towards the end of the process Convergence in Alexandria also joined in.

The 2014 Discipling Culture CoP will consist of several church teams from across Virginia who share the common vision of using lifeshapes to develop a discipling culture within their church.

In essence, participating in a CoP with other churches going through a similar journey provides a high level of support and challenge, encouragement and accountability, and ideas and application that would hard to replicate outside the CoP experience. We believe there is also great benefit to networking with current CoP members as well as former CoP pastors and church teams.

We pray for the churches that are beginning this exciting journey together. Watch a video with testimony from Sammy Williams (Northminster Church, Richmond) and Greg McCormick (Woodland Baptist Church, Arrington) talking about their experiences with the Community of Practice process: