The time had come for Lindsay Phipps’ third child to head to kindergarten in the fall of 2018. A stay-at-home mom in Altoona, Iowa, Phipps began to wonder what her time would look like with all three kids out of the house.
She began to pray and Psalm 90:17 came to mind: “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us — yes, establish the work of our hands.”
She continued to pray and, in the meantime, began meeting for discipleship with Rev. Megan Koch, discipleship pastor at Table Church in Des Moines. The new church plant is located in the heart of Iowa’s capital and states this as part of its mission: “Everything we do stems from these four movements: we pursue God, create belonging, do justice and make disciples.”
Phipps is doing just that. In October 2019, she began meeting regularly for discipleship with Koch, who led Phipps through the Discipleship Pathway curriculum that Table Church uses. Within this time, Phipps read Psalms 51, specifically verses 12, 13 and 15: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you … Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.”
That’s when something began to stir in her heart.
“The Lord just set my heart on fire to truly show people his way. The way of Jesus,” said Phipps. “I prayed that the Lord would make me willing to obey. That he would unseal my lips and that my mouth would praise him. I had this desire and prayer to fill every available space in my day with showing other women the way of Jesus. And that’s exactly what he has done.”
In the last several months, Phipps has taken seven women of various ages through the discipleship curriculum. And a few of those disciples have begun discipling others.
Koch shared how Phipps fits into what Table Church is doing to help men, women and youth grow in their relationships with Jesus.
“We’re here to invite people to the way of Jesus,” said Koch. Discipleship isn’t just learning about Jesus; it’s learning from Jesus, who is alive, right here, and we can walk and talk with him right now. When that clicks for you and you see it, it changes everything. You become absolutely contagious with Jesus. Lindsay is one of those people. She gets it and can’t stop pulling more people in.”
Rev. Phil Wiseman, lead pastor at Table Church, said the discipleship curriculum they use at the church led to the vision for the church.
“Pastor Megan and I began designing this pathway over two years ago,” said Wiseman. “We didn’t realize it at the time, but what we were doing would eventually give way to a vision for a new church that has discipleship at the foundation: Table Church. Since moving to Des Moines, Megan has become the lead architect behind the pathway, and most recently she’s redesigned it for use in our highly digital scenario we find ourselves in.” So far, around 50 people have been involved with or completed the curriculum as well as several more outside of the area.
Phipps has grown in her confidence of discipling other women at Table Church, but she is quick to say that she’s had her moments of feeling inadequate.
“There are times I don’t know exactly how to help or answer these women, but Jesus never leaves me,” said Phipps. “It’s helpful for me to remember that I don’t have to know all the things or heal anything. I just have to seek, and encourage them to seek, the One who does.”
She encourages others who may feel intimidated or scared about engaging in discipleship to just give it a try and see where it leads.
“Any fear or momentary discomfort is so fleeting compared to the impact your obedience in saying ‘yes’ to this is,” said Phipps. “You’re saying yes to walking alongside someone else for a season of life in the expectation that Jesus will take you both deeper.”
As Phipps continues in discipleship, she believes it is indirectly impacting her family in positive ways too.
“My kids see their mom invest in others, especially right now when they see me go into our home office several times a week to talk, listen and pray for someone else,” said Phipps. She also sees her marriage being affected by it. “My husband, Taylor, is currently walking through the discipleship pathway with Pastor Phil, so we have loved getting to talk about the resources with each other which has been so rich for our marriage.”
As a leader, Wiseman is encouraged as he sees folks like Phipps step out of their comfort zone and simply be obedient to how God wants to use them in others’ lives.
“It seems to me that many of the great moves of God throughout history feature those who are not ordained, taking up the mantle of ministry leadership,” said Wiseman. “When an army of non-clergy is released, the result is unstoppable. That’s our hope for this discipleship pathway, and that’s exactly what is happening with Lindsay and her friends. When I see what’s happening with Lindsay, I’m not only encouraged because so many women are drawing closer to Christ and one another. I’m also encouraged because this sort of thing is exactly what needs to happen for our churches to have an enduring impact on our culture at large.”
“’Disciples making disciples’” is more than a motto at Table Church,” said Rev. Tim Purcell, district superintendent for the Iowa-Minnesota District. “The church’s entire vision and strategy is based on multiplication, not addition. I believe that God is launching a disciple-making movement in Des Moines through Table Church.”
Here’s some of what Phipps’ disciples had to share:
“My love for Jesus has grown. Not in the amount of love I have for him, but in the depth, the richness of being in love with Jesus. Throughout my life I’ve tried to please him, instead of just living life with him. There is a difference; it may not look different from the outside, but on the inside, it’s transformational! Jesus loves me, I am special, and I don’t have to win some big award or do something amazing for him to love me. I am walking this journey of life with Jesus and together we are sharing the love of God with those he puts in our path.”
“I’m learning so much more about the genuine love of Jesus and dismissing so many old false beliefs that have kept me bound. One of my favorite things has been … taking the time to see Jesus in the room with me and feel his presence and asking him to walk through my day with me and surrender my tomorrow to him. It is truly changing the way I want to live my life.”
“I’ve felt spiritual growth over the past few years, but I also felt something was missing for that growth to continue. I needed something to grasp. This discipleship curriculum and time with my discipler has uncovered things deep within that had previously hindered that further spiritual growth, while removing the intimidation I felt in my preconceived notion of evangelism. As I near the end of the material, I have such a desire to share Jesus’ love with others in a way I haven’t before. Humbly and boundlessly assured.”
“My life has really changed since beginning discipleship. Developing the habits and rhythms of a disciple is huge but learning to meet with Jesus in prayer and experience him in my days is what has transformed my heart. I had a lot of emotional roadblocks in the way and discipleship has helped me to see that Jesus not only can heal but longs so much for me to be healed.”
“The discipleship experience provided such life changing healing and joy in Jesus. It allowed me to grow closer to Christ by looking back at moments in my life and seeing where he was in those moments. I now know he was right there with me, loving, protecting and guiding me through each moment … I’m confident God used my discipleship experience to change, heal and grow my relationship with him and inspire me to share the discipleship experience with others in my life.”