Developing Discipleship

To be a disciple is to be called to a life of learning and formation in the likeness of Christ. Jesus calls men and women to be disciples: to learn from him, to pattern their lives upon his life, to follow him. Disciples are formed and sustained primarily through the grace of God seen in the witness of the local church. The local church is a community dedicated to a life of prayer, learning, service and worship.  The community live this out when they gather on Sunday for worship.  At the end of the service the congregation are sent out to live their discipleship in daily life.

Disciples are formed through the ancient discipline of catechesis, teaching the faith to those who are ready to learn more. However the learning from and following of Jesus doesn't stop at baptism or confirmation. Discipleship continues throughout the whole of the Christian life through being with Jesus and being sent out. Lay or ordained, we grow in our discipleship through Christian witness at work and in our homes, in our prayers and in our worship. Divine and human agency both play their part.

Nurturing discipleship across the Church is vital as the Church of England seeks spiritual and numerical growth. Nurturing discipleship lies at the heart of re-imagining both lay and ordained ministry.  There are many good things and excellent work happening to develop discipleship but there are significant obstacles before our hopeful future is realised.  According to a recent report, lay development and discipleship are not clearly articulated as strategic priorities in most dioceses. It was widely perceived that the biggest obstacle in lay development is the clericalised culture of church and ministry. In addition, although some fine theological leadership is being given by individuals, overall there is no well-developed authoritative source for the theology of discipleship. The Church of England has not devoted a great deal of time and energy to reflection on the discipleship the whole people of God in recent times.

To address this we are:

•    Developing a Pilgrim Catechism in collaboration with the Pilgrim authors and Church House Publishing.
•    Partnering with other organisations on cross-discipline research to better understand the discipleship challenges and experiences of Christians.
•    Exploring the theology of discipleship in order to better resource the church.
•    Working in partnership with other divisions of the NCIs and Renewal and Reform work streams to develop cross-boundary solutions with an emphasis on whole-life discipleship and passing faith on to children and young people.