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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

the @c_of_e developing discipleship paper - a summary of the main sections and the 3 recommendations on 10 marks of developing #disciples, deepening the conversation & revising the #Catechism

On 13/1/15 the CofE shared the above video on youtube along with a tumblr post on the Developing Discipleship paper by the Bishop of Sheffield.  A transcript for the you tube clip is here

That post said that at the February 2015 Synod the paper will provide a context for the important conversation and debate about the reports from the four Task Groups due to be published this coming Friday.

The post says the paper has gone through several versions following discussions in the House of Bishops and and the Archbishops Council and that the final result is far from the last word. It describes the main focus of the paper as - the need for the CofE to take more seriously the call to all to be and to become a community of missionary disciples called to love God, to love one another and to love God’s world.

A discussion forum on the Developing Discipleship can be found on the Church of England website.

I have attempted to summarise what the paper proposes below.

1) What does it mean to be a disciple? - covered in paragraphs 6 to 15 with references to relevant bible passages. "To be a disciple is to be called to a life of learning and formation in the likeness of Christ" (para 7) AND it " is also to be called to live a distinctive life of witness and service, an apostolic life, sent into the world, to follow God’s call" (para 8). 


2) How are disciples formed and sustained? - (paras 16 to 21) " primarily through the grace of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit seen in the witness of the local church, through a community dedicated to a life of prayer, service and witness in daily life which is a living interpretation of the Christian faith" (para 16).

3) Discipleship in the tradition (paras 22 to 30). "it is possible to identify periods of significant reflection on the central importance of discipleship in the life of the Church" (para 22). "These periods of reflection are almost all in times of significant change" (para 23). " As the Church of England in 2015 we face the challenge of calling one another afresh to follow Christ in the face of a global, secularised, materialistic culture, often experienced as a desert for the soul. We need to draw on the deep wisdom of the past but also to apply ourselves afresh to an authentic and Anglican understanding of discipleship for the 21st Century." (para 30)

4) Reflection on discipleship in the contemporary Church of England (paras 31 to 40). " 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." (para 34). ".there is no well-developed authoritative source for the theology of discipleship to which the contemporary Church of England can readily look to inform its teaching here” (para 37). "We should not be surprised or discouraged that we need to do further work in this vital area nor should we blame others or ourselves for the present situation. Rather we should recognise that the changing times in which we live call for a changing and evolving understanding of discipleship within the life of the Church. (para 40)

5) The paper has 3 recommendations:

a) Ten Marks for Developing Disciples - the paper commends these to parishes and to Dioceses. An appendix lists the 10 marks of a diocese committed to developing disciples AND gives a few examples under each of what that would look like in a diocese.

1) A lifelong journey of discipleship and growth in Christian maturity is supported and modelled by all.
2) The importance of discipleship in daily life is affirmed.
3) Gatherings for worship celebrate the discipleship of all the baptised.
4) Disciples are equipped to help others to become followers of Jesus.
5) Diocesan work on vocations is based on the principle that all the baptised are called into God’s service.
6) Good practice in facilitating learning and formation is developed.
7) Gifts of leadership are recognised and developed among all the baptised.
8) Innovation and experiment are encouraged in mission, ministry and discipleship.
9) Specific diocesan policies and plans promote discipleship development
10) Diocesan resources are committed to the development of the whole people of God.

b) Deepen the conversation - a new theological conversation on discipleship and ministry by a group of theologians, bishops and theological educators.  This group will prepare the ground for a larger conversation between bishops, theologians and theological educators on these themes in September 2015, as part of the College of Bishops.  Following that conversation it is hoped  a group will develop fresh theological resources in this area for the General Synod in the next quinquennium.

c) - to the House of Bishops -  the need to develop and revise the Catechism in the next five years and to commission resources to help the whole Church explore and live out our common discipleship. (The catechism is a much neglected summary of discipleship and what Christians believe)

Related CofE Posts

CofE Discerning & nurturing paper - with Green Report attached - from January 2015

Church Commissioners' funds and inter-generational equity - from January 2015

CofE Resourcing the Future - from January 2015

CofE Resourcing Ministerial Education - from January 2015

CofE Simplification paper - from January 2015

CofE Developing Discipleship paper - from January 2015

“In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal - from January 2015

The Green Report - on CofE talent management - from December 2014

CofE typos in services - a compilation of a @OurCofE twitter hashtag - from December 2014

CofE 2013 mission stats - from November 2014

Household of faith conference - one of several posts summarising - from July 2014

CofE Strategies - one of several posts summarising - from June/July 2014

Role of church in society conference - from June 2014

CofE church growth research conference - from January 2014

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