Nurturing faith

Snap 2016-04-20 at 19.17.28“Pilgrim – a course for the Christian journey”

Pilgrim is a major new teaching and discipleship resource from the Church of England. It aims to help every local church create a place where people can explore the Christian faith together and see how it can be lived out each day.  Details of the available resources can be found at www.pilgrimcourse.org

Pilgrim takes a different approach to other Christian programmes. It approaches the great issues of faith not through persuasion, but participation in a pattern of contemplation and discussion with a group of fellow travellers.

Pilgrim is comprised of two stages: the Follow stage for those very new to faith, and the Grow stage for those who want to go further. Each stage contains four short six-session courses which focus on a major theme of Christian life.

The approach of Pilgrim is:

  • It starts at the very beginning: Pilgrim assumes very little understanding or knowledge of the Christian faith.
  • It focuses on Jesus Christ: Pilgrim aims to equip people to follow Jesus Christ as disciples in the whole of their lives.
  • It flows from the Scriptures: The primary focus of each session is a group of people engaging with the Bible together.
  • It draws deeply from the Christian tradition: In the Early Church, the Christian faith was taught by the transmission of key texts which summed up the heart of the Christian message. Pilgrim restores this approach for the twenty-first century.
  • It honours the Anglican way and its many streams: Pilgrim has been developed as a specifically Anglican resource which aims to cater for every tradition in the Church of England.

There are two stages, each with four courses each:

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faithpictures“Faith Pictures”

Church Army has produced a new evangelism course, entitled Faith Pictures, which was launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the General Synod of the Church of England on 25 November 2015.  The free, downloadable course centres around identifying an image, or faith picture, to help people talk about their faith.

Faith Pictures takes a significantly different approach from other evangelism courses, with three main features:

  • Honesty – about the faith journey, without bracketing out hard questions
  • Humour – Faith Pictures is designed to be fun for participants
  • Whole church – it’s a simple idea that can be used across the entire church, encompassing different traditions and age groups

The Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group identified the needs for this type of resource and asked Church Army to produce it. Faith Pictures comprises six sessions in total and is designed to be run by groups over a six-week period, with one session a week. Each of the six sessions features a video, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Comedian Milton Jones, TheologianPaula Gooder and many more.

Justin Welby says about the course: “Faith Pictures is an amazing gift to the church. It is doing just what we need – helping every Christian to share their faith with friends and family. It doesn’t patronise or give standard answers, but stimulates each person to tell what they have experienced of God. It is fun, engaging and free. Please think about running this course in your church.

Details can be found at the Faith Pictures site

discipleshipessence-300

“essence”, Rob Frost, Share Jesus International

 

Available as a free download at the Share Jesus International website

“Essence is very much a product of the post-modern, ‘spiritual’ age. The emphasis is on the experiential rather than the cerebral. Not all will find it helpful but for those who do, this could be the just the resource they have longed to use.”

Essence is a six part course designed to be run off church premises. It aims to give an experiential introduction to the Christian faith in a culturally relevant way. The overriding objective is to help people who may view themselves as ‘spiritual’ to journey towards the Christian faith. The course seeks to start where people are, so the concepts explored are all recognisable to those familiar with New Age spirituality. Essence seeks to help participants look at these concepts and issues from a Christian perspective. The course material is contained in a leaders’ handbook and accompanying CD.

The six sessions are: the journey so far, the journey within, the journey to a better world, the journey to wholeness, the journey to spirituality, the journey to the future. Each session contains a rich blend of Biblical material, reflection, and a great range of activities. Activities include: crafts, collage, meditation, drawing, salt dough modelling, massage.  Considerable use is made of music, poetry and symbols.

Essence has been produced for the unchurched in particular. However, in the introduction the author relates how ‘hungry committed Christians are for something less cerebral and more experiential in their faith’. He then goes on to comment on how Christian participants have ‘found Essence stimulating and refreshing’. This is part of the appeal of the course. As well as opening up Christianity to non-Christians, it would also be helpful in introducing Christians to wider, richer experiences of Christian faith and life. Essence would be particularly good for young people and young adults.

discipleshipfoundations-300“Foundations21”, brf

Foundations21 is a purpose-built web-based discipleship course that covers most of the Christian basics and aims to bring people to a place where they can identify their key gifts and ministries.

A particularly innovative and inspiring feature of the course is the quiz at the beginning that enables participants to identify their Gospel Learning Style. The site has four gateways – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – through which participants enter the rooms (sections) of the course.

The twelve rooms are: Jesus, The Bible. God the Father., The cross and resurrection, The Holy Spirit, The church, Prayer, Worship, Intimacy with God, Christian lifestyle, Christian ministry, Christian mission.

A particularly valuable feature of the site is the devotional material that is included. Participants can use Foundations21 for their daily prayers, readings and reflections.

Participants can work through the course wherever their computer is. For most people this will probably be at home, but the course could also be done at work or college, at church or in a cyber café. In each room there are exercises and reflections to be done. Space is provided for responses and also for journalling. Participants are encouraged to invite a mentor to accompany them on their journey. The value of learning networks is recognised and it is suggested that those doing the course meet with others in their church, locality or network.

Access to the material is at the Foundations21 website

“The whole of life for Christ – Enriching everyday discipleship”, Antony Billington and Mark Greene, 2015, IVP

“Enriching Everyday Discipleship. 7 studies for individuals or small groups.

Suppose for a moment that Jesus really is interested in every aspect of your life. Everything – the dishes and the dog and the day job and the drudgery of some of the stuff you just have to do, the TV programme you love, the staff in your local supermarket as well as the homeless in the local shelter, your boss as well as your vicar, helping a shopper find the ketchup as well as brewing the tea for the life group, the well-being of your town and the well-being of your neighbour … Suppose the truth that every Christian is a new creature in Christ, empowered by the Spirit to do his will, means that Christ is with you everywhere you go, in every task you do, with every person you meet …  Suppose God wants to involve you in what he’s doing in the places you spend your time day by day … Suppose your whole life is important to Christ …

It is.

These seven studies will help you explore and live out the marvellous truth that the gospel is an invitation into whole-life discipleship, into a life following and imitating Jesus.”

This book is part of a resources produced by the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity , an organisation that “exists to envision and equip Christians and their churches for whole-life missionary discipleship in the world. We seek to serve them with biblical frameworks, practical resources, training and models so that they flourish as followers of Jesus and grow as whole-life disciplemaking communities”.  More information can be found here

A comprehensive list of discipleship resources can be found on the Fresh Expressions website.

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