During my time on sabbatical I was looking at how the church today can make and nurture followers of Jesus, (disciples/apprentices) in the busy and consumer driven world we live in.
Many people I met agree this is the biggest question facing the church in the UK today. I’m drawn back time and time again to something Jesus said, recorded in John’s Gospel chapter 10: “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.”
......and I find myself asking
Do we help people to become the people God made them to be, to find ‘life in all its fullness’ as Jesus said he came to bring?
This is what God desires for people, but do we really understand the scope of what God wants for us and why are we so often so far away from it…… what is it that prevents us being fully devoted followers of Jesus?
Let me tell you now there is no silver bullet (not that I expected to find one!) but what I have brought back with me is a toolbox full of things which, used wisely in our context I believe will make a real difference.
To get us started, here’s something which I think is fundamental and it’s something which has a huge impact on us as Christians living in the West today.
It’s known as the sacred/secular divide and it’s a tendency to think and live as if there are some things God is interested in and some things he isn’t. Sundays is for church and the rest of the week is about the rest of life. Now this is about as far away from Jesus’ teaching as you can get.
Mark Greene author of 'The Great Divide' summarises it really well in this video:
More and more people are realising that we need to work towards seeing everything we do as important to God. Our work, our families, our hobbies, our neighbours, the clubs we belong to, school, college, university. We are followers of Jesus 7 days a week, A follower of Jesus is a disciple—all of us—it’s the calling of every Christian. And we need to work towards seeing the whole of our lives as important to God and living that out
This is called Whole life discipleship.
Now, there are two ways we exist as the church—as the Jesus movement—here to be a blessing to the world. We are church when we are gathered—here on Sundays or midweek or in groups or on courses and so on And we are equally the church—equally part of the Jesus movement when we are scattered—in our homes, with our families, in the workplace, in our leisure time and so on. I think a lot of how we grow and develop as a church and as individuals will be based on this.
We are the church, the followers of Jesus when we’re together and when we’re dispersed through the week. There are a whole number of small ways we can enter into this:
You will see some changes to the language used when we gather together (see if you can spot them and let me know!). There will be lots of ways we develop support for people in their every day lives and this will lead to new ways of doing small groups, prayer and learning. It will. I hope give us a fresh outlook on our lives and where God is at work in them, as well as a more outward looking focus.
To be a follower of Jesus is to live a fully human life, bringing hope to the world around us. That’s something worth working for......