What helps develop a sense of Christian discipleship as a lifelong enterprise, but one which is also attentive to the different challenges and opportunities of each age, stage and turning point in the life course? This project seeks to discover.
‘Through-Life Discipleship’ is a long-running interest of ours at St Peter’s Saltley Trust. We’re keen to to encourage action and reflection around Christian discipleship as a life-long journey whilst also recognising the specific needs and challenges of individual stages and transitions of the life course.
Ageing affects all of us. We believe that, far from being incidental, God is interested in our growing up and growing older, the things we experience and the people we become in the process. And if Christian discipleship is potentially a lifelong journey, every stage of life and time of change presents new challenges and opportunities in following Christ. In the light of this, how do we create churches which are attentive to the hopes, needs and experiences of people at different ages, stages and points of change across the life course, and which enable different generations to learn from and support each other in navigating the journey of life? We call this ‘through-life discipleship’.
Working in partnership with local churches, our partnership work on through-life discipleship seeks to:
capture and share the good work churches are doing already in supporting discipleship through the life course and life transitions (at all ages and stages of life);
encourage new work relating to Christian responses to the life course, life transitions, lifelong discipleship and intergenerational learning; particularly where there are gaps
This is specifically focused upon four key areas:
The whole life journey: we often describe our Christian faith as a journey, but in what ways can we intentionally explore discipleship as a life-long endeavour?
Changes in the shape of the life course: how might the changing shape of the life course present new challenges in living out our faith? Is there a need for greater support and resourcing in this area?
Key transition points or life-changes: How can churches help people negotiate the major times of transition in their lives?
Generations, and relationships between them: how can we bring different generations into conversation and learn from each other?
We began some exploratory work in this area during 2012-13 with the able assistance of our then-intern Ben Baker, working in partnership with St Mary’s Ross-on-Wye, Hodge Hill Church Birmingham, the Generations Project (Solihull), the Diocese of Hereford and the Diocese of Lichfield.
One resource to emerge from the project is There is More to Life, a four-session small group resource for exploring discipleship in ‘third age’, written by David Primrose, Lindsey Hall and Manjula Patel (Diocese of Lichfield) and Ian Jones (St Peter’s Saltley Trust). You can download the course here [link to document: ‘there is more to life – final’] and an additional worksheet for session 3 here. [link to: ‘talking about my generation – final’].
We’re also working on some introductory small group materials to introduce the whole theme of ‘through-life discipleship’ and would love to hear from anyone who would like to help us trial and develop these.
You can read more about Through Life Discipleship on our dedicated mini-site here. http://throughlifediscipleship.weebly.com/