Banded Discipleship Groups Bring New Opportunities to Asbury’s Spiritual Life – Asbury University
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Banded Discipleship Groups Bring New Opportunities to Asbury’s Spiritual Life

August 31, 2018

Holiness Emphasis Week 2017“Shame loses power when it is spoken,” Wednesday morning’s chapel speaker Rev. Mark Benjamin said, as he quoted the words of author Brené Brown, who writes extensively on vulnerability, shame and empathy. 

It’s with this idea in mind that Asbury University’s brand-new Banded Discipleship Groups were introduced in chapel on Aug. 29. The name refers to student groups that will band together for encouragement and support in a shared journey of faith.

From fall revivals to inspiring Chapel messages, Asbury has long been a place of spiritual awakening, growth and transformation for many of its students. And now, there are even more resources for students to draw from to help strengthen their walk with God. Gender-specific and comprising three to five people, Banded Discipleship Groups will meet weekly to discuss scripture, pray and provide accountability.

Though students have had the option of joining small groups in the past, Banded Discipleship Groups provide a more structured, trackable format than in previous years while also challenging students to take more initiative within the groups.

Rev. Greg Haseloff, associate dean of Spiritual Life and campus chaplain, hopes the program will provide a tool for students to encourage and support one another.

“We really believe that there is more opportunity for growth when students are consistently meeting with each other, being honest about their need for prayer, confessing where they have fallen short and asking each other questions about what the Holy Spirit is doing in their lives,” Haseloff said. “We believe that that is the essence of Christian growth and that it would be such a mark of God’s work at Asbury and God’s work in our student body.”

According to Haseloff, though the groups are student-led and don’t necessarily have an appointed leader, one student will serve as a facilitator of sorts among each group to help set a meeting time and keep the group moving through a list of core questions. The Spiritual Life staff will go over these core questions in a series of training meetings that will occur every three to four weeks during the academic year.

Banded Discipleship Groups are meant to be a place where the lie of shame is removed and students can speak freely about their struggles and triumphs in their individual faith journeys.

“We don’t expect there to be an immediate place of vulnerability or a trust level that takes place in the second meeting of the group being together,” Haseloff said. “But as groups grow into the fifth or tenth week, we see that the questions really have a level of depth to them that would be accentuated by same-gender groups.”

Haseloff notes that the hope for Banded Discipleship Groups is that they are born out of an organic environment wherein students will create bands based on who they already naturally connect with. Though, there is a small group of student leaders and members of the Spiritual Life department who will be required to lead or participate in a group.

“If God is at work in your life and you want your relationship with Christ to grow, then band together with three or four friends of the same gender and meet weekly to talk about that and talk about what God’s doing in your life,” Haseloff said. “That’s the big picture of Banded Discipleship.”

Students are encouraged to find each other and create their own bands.

“We’re kind of creating the model and the framework, really explaining the reasoning behind it, why being in a band plays such a crucial role in their own spiritual growth and then students are released to find one another,” Haseloff said. “They are the ones that drive the bands coming together.”

Benjamin, a 2006 Asbury Theological Seminary graduate who currently serves as the director of New Room Conferencing & Resource Development at Seedbed, spoke in Chapel about the value of taking part in “bands.”

“We long for connection,” Benjamin said. “We were created in the image of the Triune God. The image of God already exists in a tight-knit community. We long for connection with each other. Our instincts say when we’re lonely, pull away. But when we feel lonely, we need to lean in.”

Benjamin also discussed the importance of community in inspiring spiritual growth within the individual. This will be spurred on within Banded Discipleship Groups through Bible readings and the core questions.

While groups will mostly be student-formed, those who are interested in finding a group can also contact Greg Haseloff or Assistant Director of Spiritual Life Jeannie Banter for more information.

To learn more about Spiritual Life at Asbury, visit