Each and every time we gather together as a group of Jesus followers, we are being disciples together; we are in a culture of discipleship. The kinds of things which are said, how we behave towards each other, can grow this culture of discipleship. How does it differ to the culture we would experience at the rugby club or a book group?

Below is a fairly comprehensive list of features of a culture of discipleship. Which of these resonate with you? Which reflect your community of faith? Which don’t?

A culture of discipleship is

  • Christocentric – has Jesus at the centre
  • Emotionally vulnerable
  • Mutually accountable
  • Full of praise, encouragement and correction
  • Full of humour and fun
  • A place of serving
  • Caring
  • Honest and loving
  • Integrated through all areas of our lives
  • Questioning and discursive
  • A place people want to be
  • A place that celebrates and learns from the highs and lows
  • A place that discovers, nurtures and uses people’s gifts
  • A place where people lead according to their strengths
  • Good-news to share with others

It’s quite a daunting list. Could anyone build this culture?!

We are helped when we spend time with the first disciples and examine the culture they experienced walking with Jesus. They had much to disagree on, yet collectively turned back to Jesus again and again, seeking answers. They prayed, laughed, ate and worked together. They were in and out of each-other’s lives, they met each-other’s mothers (even mothers-in-law)! They expressed their doubts in a safe space; they fumbled, mumbled and messed up; yet were still part of the family. Their culture cycled through challenge, risk and learning, in a collective soup of love and grace. They corrected and refuted each other, and then forgave. They were their best selves and their worst selves, living transparently before one another.

Now that is a model that feels a lot more attainable!

More than anything, the first disciples walked a road together, following in the Rabbi’s dust. Years of trusting obedience and stretching spiritual reflection shot through with luminous moments of divine revelation.

Every one of us is responsible for shaping the communities we find ourselves in. We grow and mold culture collectively. It is not given to us by a politician, teacher or minister. We make it, amongst ourselves, daily, through our choices and behaviours: the jokes we tell, the unspoken social rules, the hierarchies built on histories, the things we challenge and the things we don’t.

The Church has developed a suite of resources which will help you examine the culture of your faith community and the part each can play in creating it. Read more here https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/resources/exploring-discipleship


Hannah Sanderson

Congregational Learning Development Worker