This may be shocking for some of us today, but Jesus never asked anyone to believe in him. His consistent invitation to the first century people of Israel was just two simple words, “Follow me,” and his invitation to you and to me today is the same. He asks each of us if we are willing to be his disciples, to learn from him as we walk the roads of life together.
The spiritual disciplines are essential to being Jesus’ disciple. We cannot follow him without them. Beingdisciples.com is more than a website about the spiritual disciplines. It is designed to help us be more intentional about our practices. The disciplines are not additional spiritual tasks; they help us engage the life of a disciple more deeply. They help us stop doing discipleship and start being disciples. For that reason I offer three resources: a book, resources for individual disciplines, and a blog.
The book, Stop Doing Discipleship and Start Being Disciples is a short read and yours free for subscribing. In it, I explain what the disciplines are and why they are essential to following Jesus. The resources focus on individual disciplines. Each practice has an article about its history and purpose as well as a guide to practicing it. I will continue to add new resources. You can subscribe to get an email when new disciplines are added. Finally, the blog has short articles about being a disciple.
I pray this website will be a valuable tool to help us follow Jesus. When we stop doing discipleship and start being disciples we are transformed. We take on the character of Jesus and become the people we were created to be. We live the lives we were created to live, and we bring the kingdom of God to the world around us.
The site is currently under construction. I am working hard to make it pretty and easy to navigate, so please forgive the mess as I learn how to build a website. The blog and disciplines will be available soon, but the book is available now! If you subscribe, I can let you know when the site officially goes live.
Who is J. William Feffer?
William Feffer is an evangelist for the spiritual disciplines. For over twenty years he has been helping people follow Jesus in their everyday lives with his teaching and writing. He is business leader by day, proving you don’t have to be a monk to cultivate a life connected to God. J. William has a B.A. in Christian Education with an emphasis in Spiritual Formation from Wheaton College and a M.A. in Ministry Leadership from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. He is husband to a beautiful wife, father to a couple amazing sons, and he currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago, IL.
The long version
For years I lived what Dallas Willard called “vampire Christianity.” I called myself a Christian. I wanted to be like Jesus, and I wanted to go to heaven when I died. But I gave very little attention to Jesus in my ordinary day. I wanted to live life on my terms.
Don’t get me wrong. I did the “right” things. I went to church. I read my Bible and prayed. I didn’t drink or smoke or sleep around. Sometimes I wish my story included a sordid past with a dramatic conversion, but it doesn’t. Generally speaking, I was a good dude. But something was missing.
I identified with Thoreau. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” I expected more from the Christian life than I was experiencing. There was a nagging desire for something more deep within me, but it was hidden, pressed down and suppressed.
Then one warm, summer day on my back porch I read Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. I had been a Christian over fifteen years, but when I read this book I realized I had believed only half of the Gospel. The kingdom is present, Willard taught, and the abundant life of John 10:10 is available if we are willing to give our lives to following Jesus. Too many in the church today are like I was, living half a life. It’s not supposed to be like this, and we know it.
We miss the fullness of the Jesus life because we believe it is about belief and moral behavior. “Believe in Jesus and behave so you can go to heaven when you die” is the general understanding of the gospel. We don’t realize the primary invitation of Jesus hasn’t changed in the last 2,000 years. His invitation to us today is still two simple words, “Follow me.” And those who know his invitation are often at a loss for how to do it.
I believe if we can figure this out, if we can follow Jesus—I mean really follow him with our whole hearts in every area of our lives—we will become the people he created us to be. Then we will live the lives we were created to live (John 10:10) and bring the kingdom of God to the world around us.
I think we get it wrong when we talk about evangelism and discipleship as distinct activities. If evangelism is focused on crossing a line or getting to heaven when we die, we are creating a barrier to being a disciple. But if evangelism is an invitation to follow Jesus, well, then we’ve got something. This is why I call myself an evangelist for the spiritual disciplines. I long to see people—those who are in the Church and those outside it—choose to follow Jesus, and the disciplines are essential to following him.