“We’re absolutely brilliant at walking around a forest and talking about spirituality, but how do we move from that to discipleship in Christian faith?” So asked the leader of Pioneering in a major UK denomination when we met him last year.
It’s a question that I imagine many of us have been asking…. How do we move from the curious questions we are often asked, to something that begins to look like a gathering of disciples? How did the apostle Paul manage it? How did he go from a standing start in places like Thessalonica or Corinth, to churches that within a few weeks or months were able to begin to understand his theologically sophisticated letters, letters which were packed with biblical allusion? How did he do it?
We work for years in our communities, we build relationships, we are loved and highly regarded, but how does this begin to move to Christian discipleship? And if our existing approaches to church inhibit this journey for some (the emphasis being on the word “some” since existing models of church will continue to be a key part of this journey for many), then what new models might work? The projects which were awarded Seeds for Growth grants over the past year are attempting to make this very step.
Some hope to develop a different kind of space for discipleship and worship: a community garden in Partick, a repair shop in Robroyston. Others are building on gatherings where faith is already part of the group’s life: Youth Ministry in Dunfermline East and Kinross Others build on a connection that has always been vital to the Church of Scotland’s mission – the shared bonds of geography (Dundonald and Dunblane).
Over the next five years, Seeds for Growth is hoping to support many more congregations on this journey. You can apply multiple times (we want to get to the point where, if possible, an award is made), and you can have more than one project in a congregation (as long as you have the resources to make things work). Over the last year we have realised that we need to be serious about projects being able to pay for themselves within 5-7 years (if it’s a youth project or in an area of economic deprivation then that will be a slightly different conversation) and there is a lot to be learned from each other on this journey, a journey where none of us are totally sure of the path ahead (does the Holy Spirit ever lead us on any other kind of way?).