“This is about the core task left to us by Jesus. It usually takes theDisciples who make Disciples
form of accompanying people on a journey to faith by the inten-
tional use of nurture courses, mentoring, the catechumenate, or
Jesus called people to follow him and learn from him. These disciples were then given the task of calling more people to join them as they continued to extend the circle of Christ’s community. We are disciples who make disciples.
Discipleship is a life-long journey and one which we are all called to make. As churches we should therefore seek to provide opportunities for all ages to grow as people of God. We should seek to nurture those within the church and those who are not yet members.
In Milton Keynes many of our churches are very good at discipleship; others
could do with more help, support resources and encouragement.
Courses and Programmes
One possible way of assisting people in their development as disciples is to make courses available on a regular basis. It is also helpful to have people who are consciously nurturing, mentoring or encouraging others.
Alpha MK has been promoting the Alpha course for some time and it would be good for us to encourage local churches to put on more regular courses for discipleship and nurture, including Alpha, Emmaus, Essence and so on...
While it is good to have courses focused on new disciples, we also need opportunities for existing
church members to grow and develop. There are a number of possibilities available, including the CPAS course, Growing Leaders, which has already been used by two of our parishes.
Putting on high quality courses and programmes can require a huge amount of effort, time and resources, so it may be good to look for opportunities to work together in wider partnerships.
Many people are able to grow and flourish as Christians within existing and inherited forms of church. The Church of England believes that we also need fresh expressions of church which are primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet members of any church. There are various ideas in circulation including CaféChurch, alternative worship, Messy Church, new monasticism and so on... These options are not for everyone, but they should become part of our tool kit as churches. Some of them will be developed by local churches, but others may be cross-parochial and require us to think and work together as a deanery.
We have a fresh expressions project group in Milton Keynes which is in the process of becoming a FEAST (a Fresh Expressions Area Strategy Team). This group is working to inspire and inform, provide training, build networks and support our entrepreneurs. It would be good for the deanery to support this work.
Discipleship must be a priority area for us but we should also encourage a healthy, balanced and sustainable approach. We need to promote an understanding of Christian life and service which encompasses the whole of our lives, not just the things we do in church. We also need to ensure that we are all giving time to “sustain the sacred centre” of our own lives and that no-one is overstretched or exhausted by their commitment to the church.
The Deanery of Milton Keynes will:
- Encourage and support Alpha MK.
- Support the development of fresh expressions in Milton Keynes.
- Provide opportunities for churches and individuals to learn more about the tools and programmes which could be used to nurture disciples.
- Provide some financial support for parishes who want to launch new initiatives aimed at “making disciples”. We would like to make £500 available to each parish from our reserves.
- Hold each other accountable for the way we spend our time. We must keep on reminding each other of the need for a balanced and healthy approach to life and work.
- Continue to look for ways to equip and support discipleship in local churches. This should be a priority for the work of the synod. There will therefore need to be regular space to share and discuss ideas and good practice.