Growing in Faith Advocate Rev. Ann Perrin considers the meaning we give to the word disciple at this time in the life of our church.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (Second Edition Vol. 4) the first entry describing of the word disciple is to teach, train and educate. The second entry is to convert to the doctrine of another; and the third is to subject to discipline.
What interests me at this time in our church’s life is the meaning we give to the word disciple that we are to follow.
Does that mean we keep doing what has been done by those who have come before us?
Or, in our faith journeys for today, do we reclaim the understanding that to be a disciple is to learn, to discover, and to grow and be transformed by God through new learnings and discoveries?
In a church that needs to adapt to new contexts I ask: how do we go about discovering what we need to learn in order to be the church today for the sake of God’s tomorrow?
What do our leaders need to discover?
What do our congregations need to discover?
How do we go about looking?
I believe we need to be looking outside our church life. For congregations there is a need to be listening to the wider community so that we may discover what we do not know about the wider community in order to relate with it today.
If the church continues to look at the world through its own lens the church will not know how to respond to the world. It is in the knowing how to respond to the world that we can regain people’s trust so that they might listen again to the church and find we have something to say that they might find valuable.
I am wondering if we have cognitive dissonance between what we as the church want to say to the world and how the world now wants to hear our message.
I am thinking that one of the aspects of discipleship we need to rediscover is the art of listening and shaping who we are as disciples to a context that appears not to want to engage with us.
The art of discipleship might now be lived into by a people of God who recognise we need to regain people’s trust in order that we can be invited into conversation about the flourishing of society.
I am wondering if part of our new discipleship thinking there might be a new apologetic of the Christian faith that responds to the world and shares the gospel in new ways.