This week I am returning to my discipleship series. Last Sunday I had a great time tagging along on a ReSource weekend. There are 3 or 4 of these weekends a year organised by CMS and they give Christians the opportunity to visit a specific location and hear stories of mission and experience fresh expressions of church to inspire and inform their practice. The next one I am hosting in Kingston in February and there are still places available. To find out more, visit http://pioneer.cms-uk.org/resource. This particular weekend the focus was on using art and creativity for culturally sensitive mission. We visited moot in the City of London (http://www.moot.uk.net) and heard about the remarkable journey that has led to them becoming a new monastic community reaching out to the spiritually impoverished, both rich and poor, from a historic church opposite Mansion House tube. It was a joy and a privilege to learn the lessons of their experience as well as share in their devotions at evening prayer.
In my remembrance day blog I talked about how I have been discipling a friend who came to Christ through Alpha but then fell through the net of church as the long and painful process of healing and transformation began. In the early days God told me to ‘show her how to live’ and she stayed with us on and off as I sought to be faithful to that instruction. However, after a year or two we came to a stage when this was clearly not enough anymore and she needed something more. It was on another ReSource weekend this time in Sheffield that I felt God gave me the next step. I was inspired by a woman called Amy who was working on an estate in the city. She devised a strategy of mission that began with developing a relationship with someone who wanted to explore faith in Christ. This person would then invite a couple of interested friends and with Amy’s help they would start what they called ‘simple church’. This would involve them meeting regularly and studying the Bible. Starting with one of the gospels, they would take a short passage and ask 4 questions – what does this say about God, what does it say about me, how should I respond and who do I tell?
I knew this model was what God wanted me to use and adapt for my friend. The only problem was she was someone who lived a very chaotic life. The thought of her doing anything every week seemed impossible! Also we had the kind of relationship when I would not see her for months and then when there was a crisis we would meet every day as we worked issues through. The ReSource weekend was at the end of November and for the next few months I only saw her for brief visits. Then in February she called me and asked if she could come and stay. It was terrible timing and I said no. It transpired she had broken her foot and with a 3 month old baby in a split level studio flat there was no way she could manage at home. So I picked her up with boyfriend and baby and got them settled on the ground floor of our house. Despite the mess and disruption it was great spending some proper time with her again. After a couple of days she said she had been meaning to ask me whether we could meet to study the Bible together every week. She thought that was what God wanted her to do! I was blown away and told her about my experience in Sheffield. We agreed to begin. The next week she had a friend who also wanted to study the Bible and a little while later another of her friends joined us.
What has been amazing is we have managed to meet most weeks and I have seen all of them grow in faith in God as well as in the confidence to share what they understand of the Bible passage and to pray for one another. Last week these wonderful women carried me. They reached out to God on my behalf when I no longer had the hope or strength to do it for myself. My friend had a scripture to encourage me. God told her which book and the numbers of the chapter and verse. 1 Corinthians 12, v.12, “Your body has many parts – limbs, organs, cells…The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part…If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.” This is what we were experiencing in microcosm. So what can I teach you about discipleship? That it is God who does the discipling. The best we can do is not get in the way and let Him. Simples!