Growth in discipleship #3

I want to try and answer my own question from the last post in this sequence: “do we provide a context within which people can enter in all sorts of different ways?”

Four different ‘shapes’ – and recognising that we are all a blend of them: active experimentation (‘doing’); concrete experience (‘feeling’); reflective observation (‘watching’ – actually I think ‘imagining’ is better); and abstract conceptualisation (‘thinking’). Let’s call them earth, water, fire and air ;o) And of course – and essentially – they all feed into each other.

So what we’d need, to have a healthy environment within which people can grow as disciples, are places where:
– we can get on with the ‘doing’, eg serving the community – classic example: soup kitchen;
– we can get on with the ‘feeling’, eg pastoral care – classic example: home visiting;
– we can get on with the ‘imagining’, eg creative arts and liturgy – classic example: the eucharistic liturgy; and
– we can get on with the ‘thinking’, eg doing theology – classic example: bible study.

The questions, therefore, are: do these characterisations work to sum up how people can get involved in the faith (these are the different paths by which people can come in – have we covered all the bases?); and – and here’s the kicker – what do we have in place by which people can do this?

Here on Mersea, my initial thought is that we are pretty healthy (tho’ not perfect!!) on the latter three, but there’s quite a gap with the first.

4 thoughts on “Growth in discipleship #3

  1. Just wondered in which category you would put ‘worship’. I think it should go into ‘imagining’, thats its natural position, BUT to most people these days eucharistic liturgy is a huge block to them being able to engage with the church at all. the language is incomprehensible to them. For those of us brought up with it may well love it, but does it help or hinder?
    The church needs to stop doing things for its own comfort, the ‘we have always done it this way’ brigade, and start to look outside its doors and follow the great commision to go and make discilpes of all men. and that means meeting people on their terms and not ours. So updating, making contempory or completely ditching old fashioned eucharistic liturgy so the non churched can feel welcome rather than excluded is a good place to start.

  2. Anonymous – yes. The thing is, if you think about a medieval high mass, it would be the most stunning out-of-world experience possible. It’s not often like that today.

    (Which isn’t to say that the very simple, stripped back eucharist isn’t wonderful in and of itself, but I suspect that such things require a certain level of faith already, rather than being something that will act to draw others in.)

  3. A parishioner e-mailed me to say “… it may be that the gap is partly made up by individuals from within the church ‘doing their bit’ in the community! No statistics on this but my experience is that church members pop up an awful lot in the Island’s voluntary organisations. Maybe they ‘hide their light’ a bit?”

    I think this is certainly true – all the voluntary organisations are very well stocked with Christians (from this church and the other churches) it’s simply that it isn’t ‘shouted from the rooftops’ and doesn’t have a ‘church’ label on it – which I tend to think is a good thing.

    So for me to say there is ‘quite a gap’ isn’t right. Perhaps we simply need to become conscious of this – and to promote it as part of Christian discipleship – within the church community itself, so that it is fully embraced and endorsed. Hmm. More stuff to ponder.

  4. Your final point, here, Sam, is a salient and pertinent one. Much of my work as a Faith in Action Adviser has been about celebrating the hidden ‘yeast throughout the lump’ of Christians in community service and action, whilst trying to articulate a greater endorsement and advocacy of this in our communal church life, whilst also resisting the trap of thinking that it has to be ‘owned’ as ‘Church’ in order to be valid.
    There again, couldn’t the same be said about all the other aspects of discipleship, too?!?…

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