Our Diocesan strategy Changed Lives → Changing Lives focusses us on the life-changing love of Christ which we have experienced, and points us outward to consider how we can make that love real for others.
The genesis of these conversations is the national Reform and Renewal initiative ‘Setting God’s People Free’. If we are to engage more fully with our world, addressing urgently the need for discipleship and leadership in the everyday is essential.
We are seeking more than ever to encourage and initiate support for churches and worshipping communities to move outside our church walls; and to express God’s love more intentionally in our work places, school playgrounds and shops, with our neighbours, friends and colleagues.
Running through all of these conversations is a golden thread; if we want to share something of our experience of how Jesus has changed us, we need to be able to honestly speak of our experience of God and faith. But many of us, both ordained and lay, do not always feel confident about ‘God-talk’ outside church on Sunday. We feel we don’t know enough, or that our experience isn’t ‘holy’ enough, or that we wouldn’t be taken seriously. As a result, we don’t talk about God, or about how faith in Jesus Christ has changed us.
Questions to stimulate conversations
The following two questions are probably best used with a pre-existing group or where a good level of trust is present.
The questions probably go best at the beginning of a meeting for a ‘warm up’, and as a lead in to prayer. Adapt the question according to the group context.
The first question is:
‘How is knowing Christ/God changing your life now?’
In pairs for 4-5 minutes to share a recent experience or perspective on this.
The second question is:
‘How can we best support one another to be 7 day a week disciples?’
Give the same pair 4-5 minutes to set up actions with one another.
A Brief Guide for Facilitating (leaflet)
Learning from the questions
Learning how more confident faith develops in our communities is key to the Changing lives conversations. What helps and hinders this growth?
Review questions are provided for each group to learn what affects the way confidence is grown or diminished. Individuals and groups might identify further learning or actions that can help consolidate and embed new discipleship practices within the life of their community.
We don’t know what actual effect these questions will have within any community but we hope and pray they might lead to refreshed understanding of God and one another so we might more fruitfully bear witness to his love.
Pilot groups are exploring the effect of these questions and responding to questionnaires that will help us to understand what effect the conversations have on churches attitudes, beliefs, values or behaviours, how might they have shifted over the course of using these questions. How do these conversations stimulate churches to be more responsive to the call of Christ in this present time?
Could you be a champion or advocate for Changing Lives Conversations?
The purpose of the advocate is to take responsibility for utilising the questions in a group they are part of, and hopefully demonstrate that you don’t have to be a vicar to ask these questions of one another!
CLC champions or advocates come in all shapes or sizes, sometimes unlikely candidates. Look around at the folk who might be eager to listen to others stories about their own life and faith for the purpose of affirming them.
Who are the people who with a little encouragement might set an honest tone about what following Jesus is like for them and who is prepared to ask and share with others how we can help one another to follow Christ more fully, with all aspects of our life. You might find the person emerges after engaging with the questions. This set of questions might be helpful also.
Resources for taking the questions further
If you find people want to know more or encouragement to explore what faith can mean in everyday discipleship, the following resources are a place to begin. Do contact the CLC team if you want to talk through what options might be most suitable amongst these and other resources available. This is just a small sample!
- ‘Apprentice’ – a daily discipleship resource for individuals and groups helping them to explore the life of Jesus more fully, designed by the Church Mission Society (CMS).
- ‘Discipleship Explored’ course described as providing a ‘discipleship kit’.
- ‘Emmaus’ – the way of faith disciple kit
- ‘Freedom in Christ’ – thirteen week discipleship course for every Christian
- ‘Life on the Frontline’ – Whoever we are, as Christians, we each have a ‘frontline’. Six week course for small groups
- ‘Holy Habits’ course from the Bible Reading Fellowship. Does your church long to become a community marked by a radically different way of life that draws others to Jesus?
- Deepening Discipleship – an eight week course helping groups of disciples to deepen their understanding and following through on what it means to be a disciples every day of the week
- intentional Discipleship – a six session group over 3-4 months exploring more fully how God guides us, shapes us and equips us for more resilient discipleship
- This Time Tomorrow – An engaging way to bring everyday life into intercessions in worship and some other ideas too
What other resources have you found useful?
Please let us know! Mhambrook@diocant.org
Do you want to take part as one of the pilot groups using the questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about the Setting God’s People Free initiative