Being a Disciple Community: Loving God and Neighbor uses the teachings of Luke 10:25-42—"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself," the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the story of Jesus at the home of Mary and Martha—as a pattern for the life of the church community. In conversation with the Good Samaritan and Mary, eight "loving God and neighbor" practices of the church are explored: community, worship, teaching, prayer, missions, witness, care, and leadership.
Keith Stillwell has turned loose his pastoral imagination and brought us a fun, introspective, and action-oriented work. He challenges us to turn loose our own imagination to study deeper the Scriptures, to love deeper our neighbors, and to grow deeper as disciples. As we do this, we begin to understand clearer, “What is the church?”
—Bo Prosser, EdD, ACC Catalytic Coach and Consultant
Written during the Covid-19 pandemic, Being a Disciple Community is a book for such a time as this. As congregational leaders guide groups to clarify how to renew their energies by investing in commitments that really matter, these pages will be exceedingly helpful. As you pursue church health and vitality in this post-pandemic world, Keith Stillwell brings his experience, knowledge and commitment of nurturing disciples and building faithful communities to help you. He provides breadth and depth to the reader providing a holistic manual for meaningful conversations offering pathways for discussions to become decisions that result in intentional actions of renewal. Seldom do you find a work that is both extremely practical for congregational leaders and broadly informational for church members. Herein is a mine of treasures inviting you to dig deeper and explore creative approaches as you create new contextual alloys in your autonomous congregational laboratories. Happy disciple-making and community-building.
—Rev. Dennis W. Foust, PhD Senior Minister,
St. John’s Baptist Church
Critical to the spiritual formation of the local church is a genuine understanding and implementation of how to grow as disciples of Jesus. Dr. Stillwell provides extraordinary insight and practical ways in which our churches can develop in how we connect with God and one another. I have found no better educational resource for congregations to grasp what really should be the heartbeat of a faith community. Dr. Stillwell’s wisdom in this essential area of the Christian mission will energize our churches for years to come.
—Keith R. Felton, PhD, Senior Pastor,
First Baptist Church, Frankfort, Kentucky
Realizing that the church is ever-changing and evolving, Keith Stillwell also recognizes that some things about the church will always remain the same. Such things include worship, teaching, prayer, missions, witnessing, care, and leadership. This book provides a solid foundation for how the church can be a loving, faithful disciple community in spite of cultural changes, or shifting social dynamics, or even a pandemic. Keith draws upon storytelling, personal experience as a minister, Scripture, and a wide variety of ministry resources to show that being a disciple community is not only possible, but necessary, for the church remain vital in an unknown future. I recommend this book to congregational ministers and leaders who feel the sands shifting around them.
—Dr. Karen G. Massey, Associate Dean
Mercer University’s School of Theology
What does it mean to really be the church, and if it were being this, what would it be doing? The Spirit is forming and transforming the church as a disciple community into the body of Christ for the sake of the world God loves. Joining in this work of the Spirit is not only an exciting possibility, it also becomes an electrifying reality! The wide scope of reflections on key focus areas of the church’s life, the range of experiences cited, along with the breadth of practical implications make this book a most valuable resource for churches today! I have been blessed to be part of conversations with Keith over many years of this book’s making. And I am so excited for all who will now have access to this wonderful resource!
—Dale Ziemer (retired)
Center for Parish Development Chicago, Illinois
In his book Being a Disciple Community, Keith has woven his love for God, others, and self into a beautiful description of living out Jesus’ two great commandments—Love God, Love your neighbor. Having known Keith as a colleague and friend for over twenty years, this book is not merely a collection of theories on how to make the church better. Rather it is the embodiment of how Keith has lived his life both as a minister and a child of God. Each chapter is not only well thought out and designed, it is also the heart and soul of Keith Stillwell—a friend, colleague, and Christian. In that sense, one can sense Keith’s love for the church and his desire to see her become the church God intended her to be.
—Dr. Tommy Valentine
Associate Pastor of Theology and Pastoral Ministries
In these crucial days of the corporate church when people don’t want to be told “you must do this/believe that” Stillwell calls us back to intentional, deliberate, transformational CE, breaking out of traditional “you still while I instill” approaches that have little effect on behavior change. This book comes at a crucial time in which churches are redefining practices in light of a three year pandemic forced hiatus on business as usual.
—R. Michael Harton
Dean of Faculty (retired)
Baptist Theological Seminary Richmond
As we continue to learn to live amid a global pandemic that has upended our lives and our routines, it can be difficult to convince ourselves that being a part of a community of faith is worth the time and effort it requires. This readable, story-driven text is a powerful reminder for both clergy and laypeople that the church still matters, even as we wrestle with what it ought to look like. Dr. Stillwell provides a theological examination of what we do and why we do it as well as a helpful framework for thinking about what to prioritize as we regather and reimagine how to be Christ in our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world.
—Rev. Amanda Standiford
Associate Pastor of Children & Spiritual Formation
First Baptist Church, Frankfort, Kentucky