Any ‘church’, inherited, emerging or whatever, is not fulfilling a basic function of ‘church’ if it is not enabling disciples of Christ to be made and deeper disciples of Christ to emerge. This is the acid test of church.
So says Martyn Atkins in an introductory comment that forms part of the mission shaped ministry course unit on Discipleship. Many, myself included, would agree but that raises the question of how do we do it? How do we participate with the Spirit in the Christ commissioned task of making and growing disciples?
A few years ago I became fascinated by the possibilities for nurturing disciples captured in Luke’s delightful cameo of the life of the early Church in Acts 2:42-47. Commenting on that passage the renowned Scottish biblical commentator James Dunn says:
- The portrayal may be somewhat idealized……. But anyone who is familiar with movements of enthusiastic spiritual renewal will recognise authentic notes: the enthusiasm of the members of the renewal group, with a sense of overflowing joy, desire to come together frequently, eating together and worshipping and including the readiness for unreserved commitment to one another in a shared common life.
- Dunn, James: The Acts of the Apostle, Peterborough: Epworth 1996, p34
That got me thinking. What if we intentionally and creatively sought to relive the habits of discipleship presented by Luke, personally and collectively, in whole life, missional discipleship?
From these musings the Holy Habits initiative has emerged. The initiative has two core resources: a book and a programme. The book was published (by Malcolm Down Publishing) at the beginning of 2016 to critical acclaim and enthusiastic sales. The programme is being developed and piloted in the Birmingham Methodist Circuit with a commitment to quality, creativity and the participation of all ages. Work is now underway to translate the programme into one for national use.
There is a real buzz around what is going on. A buzz that affirms James Dunn’s view that when Christians live life in a way consistent with Acts 2 we see renewal, hope and new life.
Commenting on the Holy Habits book Martyn Atkins said,
‘Just the job. An Accessible and authentic account of Christian discipleship, full of encouragement and insight. Which, when linked to the Holy Habits programme becomes a resource for Christian fruitfulness for each and every small group and local congregation I can think of’.
To find out more about this exciting new initiative please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Roberts will be attending ECG this year www.ecgevent.org.uk where he will be expanding on what he has discovered through writing this book.
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