In this video Trellis board co-chair Kirsten Waldschmidt asks Dana Sproule of Erickson Covenant Church about her church’s adult disciple-equipping process called The Timothy Project.
Reflecting on The Timothy Project & Adult Discipleship
In 2017 Erickson Covenant Church received a two-part Trellis Discipleship Grant to create an innovative year-long process called The Timothy Project to equip lay leaders for the work of making disciples. The church leadership was responding to a need to multiply the number of people with a capacity to disciple others in their rapidly growing church community.
In this video Dana Sproule, Associate Pastor of Erickson Covenant Church, reflects on The Timothy Project process—an intensive cohort experience for 20 adults—and the fruit it has born in her church community one year later.
“The program will focus on increasing self-awareness, developing a biblical worldview, and practicing the art of mentoring,” Sproule wrote in the church’s grant application. “[This will] allow us to write the next chapter [for our church] where the people are equipped for the work of the ministry and they start multiplying disciples in every corner of our [Creston] Valley…. We will work to instil values like always being on the lookout for someone who might be gifted for ministry, and always taking someone along with you so that you’re ministering and teaching at the same time.”
As is often the case with adult spiritual development, the process was not as straightforward as Sproule had hoped. “We definitely did increase our self-awareness” and “we absolutely grew in [our capacity for] Bible study,” Sproule writes in her grant report. She also discovered the participant’s readiness or willingness to lead and mentor other people was going to take more time. Sproule describes more of the fruit of this process:
“We also developed our capacity to have communal conversation and build shared understanding of scripture. That comes from being in a year-long manuscript Bible study. It’s surprising how much impact that has. One member of the Project said in our debrief, ‘I learned that it’s okay for people to have a different opinion about the Bible from me. It seems obvious, but I didn’t know that was okay, and I didn’t know how to listen and learn from them before. And that’s really changing my marriage, actually. Because I know it’s okay for me to listen and learn without having to change her mind.’
“In smaller ways, we also increased our awareness of issues around race. We participated in the Blanket Exercise, which was the first time some of our members had ever considered an Indigenous perspective on our Canadian history. People were wary about doing it, but very glad to have participated. Some of the team is still in the process of reading White Awake now.”
In the video interview, Sproule names on the most significant fruit of The Timothy Project as this:
“The biggest and most incredible fruit of that initiative is that these twenty people—who were really a cross section of the church, who probably did not spend a lot of time together or know each other on a Sunday morning—feel like they belong to one another,” says Sproule. “The atmosphere of the church has been incredibly shaped by the fact that twenty people can immediately, without hesitation, think the best of one another, and know that they can build bridges and initiatives with people that they’re not automatically related or connected too. And so we’ve seen people join in ministries, lean into service, we’ve seen people really grow in self-awareness and the capacity to be together with others.”
To learn more about The Timothy Project and what Erickson Covenant has learned for the next disciple-equipping process, look them up at ericksoncovenant.ca and drop them a line.
Applications for Discipleship Grants are due May 1 and November 1 each year—learn more on the application page.