When Pastor Steve Schaufele attended an intensive Way of Jesus training in Kitchener, Ontario in June 2017, he hoped to come away with something that would assist his church back in Okotoks, Alberta. He got more than he expected.
“It was the most life-giving, impactful conference/retreat I had ever attended in my years as a pastor,” says Steve. “I arrived thinking of [the Way of Jesus] as a tool, but at the intensive, I realized that first and foremost it was about how I was relating to the Lord, about my own faith walk.”
Steve flew home and, in God’s perfect timing, just two days later began a scheduled two-month sabbatical. “My wife, Jessica, and I had already been talking about Way of Jesus since back in 2016 as we were aware of this emphasis in our denominational family. Now, with a stretch of time at home, each day we went over one of the 7 WoJ markers with our 4 kids, aged 16, 12, 10, and 9. We wanted them to understand and know ‘this is what mom and dad are doing.’”
The Way of Jesus can be used as a discipleship model
Steve had already been developing a discipleship model for the church, but after being introduced to WoJ by Regional Minister Brian Archer, he decided to work with it instead and ordered a supply of WoJ cards to hand out as a simple summary of what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Back at the church after the sabbatical, Steve began more intentionally to weave the WoJ markers throughout the life of the church and in materials intended for visitors. In a summer series, each sermon concluded with the marker that tied in and provided opportunities to respond. The church welcome packets now carry an explanation of the Way of Jesus and one of the wallet cards. They’ve also developed an 8-week class suitable for new people and others interested in membership, where each week they discuss a different aspect of WoJ.
“We want people to know why it’s good to follow Jesus.”
Foothills Community is a warm and welcoming congregation that talks a lot about Jesus. The new 8-week course helps participants figure out what it means to love their neighbours and how to practically live this out. “It is our mission to follow Jesus as individuals and to help each other follow Jesus. And then to show that following Jesus leads to loving our neighbours and city. This will make us life-long leaders.”
The church vision is to someday see a neighbourhood church in every neighbourhood of the Foothills of Alberta. “We want each person to see their neighbourhood as a mission field. It is our job to support people as they reach their neighbourhood.”
(Foothills Community Church, in Okotoks, was planted in 2006 and Steve was called as pastor in 2011. The church had been independent for about 3 years when Steve contacted Lynn Dietz, who connected him with Brian Archer. In 2015 he was ordained by EMCC and that same year the congregation voted in favour of applying to become a Full Member EMCC church. Of EMCC Steve says, “It feels like we’re home.”)
7 Markers of Following Jesus
His Life – I have begun following Jesus, and am depending on the Spirit of Jesus in my journey
His Mission – I am being sent by Jesus to bless others and invite them to follow Him.
His Character – I am becoming like Jesus in my attitudes, behaviours, and character.
His Love – I am learning to love God and love others.
His Teachings – I am learning the teachings of Jesus.
His Disciplers – I am helping someone and someone is helping me to be a reproducing follower of Jesus.
His Community – I am participating in a community of followers of Jesus on mission to the world.