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Deepening Discipleship Quick Survey of Incumbents

by Adrian Smale last modified 13 Mar, 2020 10:44 AM

Deepening Discipleship       

Our vision for discipleship in the diocese is ‘a contextually appropriate way of deepening discipleship in every parish, team or benefice’.  In 2019 Incumbents were asked for ways in which their parish, team or benefice is intentionally seeking to deepen discipleship at the moment.

Here are their responses - if want to know more about any of these ideas please contact .



Parish Weekend at Lee Abbey

Local pilgrimage (pausing for prayer and reflection on the way and in the churches), enabled a different quality and form of conversation about faith and discipleship, including with those on the edge of the church

Gateway Christian Healing as a demonstration of the kingdom

‘A Space to Breathe – under the beech tree’ – opportunity to experience Christian worship outside and in creation in a safe place with teaching of Contemplative Christian Meditation techniques. Folk from Talking Tuesday came and brought friends

Spiritual Book Club

Questionnaire given to congregation – led to 4 areas: social activities and parish outings, prayer, Bible study/learning about the faith, and contemplation – quiet days and retreats

Baptism preparation takes place over three visits and ensures the families discuss the contents of the service and the readings they choose. Sometimes the DVD ‘First Steps' CPAS is used to encourage learning

Conversations about beliefs with those whose faith is different linked with the Muslim Women’s Group. Talks on ‘Is religion good for the health?’ and ‘What are the most important teachings of the leader of my faith.’ Shared discussion. Good attendance and positive feedback


Holy Habits, Andrew Roberts

BRF booklets promoted especially on illness, death and bereavement.

Creating Community: Ancient Ways for Modern Churches Simon Reed (developing a rule of life based on this book). Meeting together as a prayer community which holds a common rule of life. Has strengthened faith, encouraged vocations, enabled & energised our prayer lives. It is ongoing. Probably most valuable discipleship work I've ever done

Finding your Hidden Treasure Benignus O’Rourke



Thy Kingdom Come week of prayer booklets

LWL training material - leading and participating

One day on Christian spiritualities (led by Spiritual Adviser from Gloucester Diocese)



The Bible Course (Bible Society)

Lenten courses on social justice issues (planned with worship committee and mission and vision committee, this enables them to grow and lead)

Advent Compline and meditation course annually run, a quiet space for reflection and contemplation about poetry and the arts based around advent readings

Fruitfulness on the Frontline (LICC)

Inductive Bible Study (Precept Ministries)

Talking Jesus

Theology Quests and Questions (Sarum College) attended by congregation members

Creation of a Pastoral Care Team and ongoing maintenance/ nurturing /building /supporting of this:

Although outwardly this is about serving others, and so there is discipleship in that, it also becomes quite a powerful group activity where members care for one another and we discuss faith and practical theology in the light of what we do.   We meet monthly at the Vicarage and share a light lunch together first

Eco Church:

Discipleship through the Eco Church principles is promoted through magazine articles and sermons as well as discussions on various committees that link the practice with the theory

Engagement with young families:

Parents and toddlers, junior and café church, school assemblies, holiday club


Local learning groups (during ordination training) we were encouraged to engage with drawing on members of the congregation and on others - enabled and freed people up to think about possibilities for their setting, gained courage and began switching their focus from simply keeping the church going to having an outward looking focus – led to Open the Book

Monthly Compline and poetry discussion group

Confirmation Groups – including post-confirmation, as difficult to move to Sunday attendance

Home groups builds community and relationships, lay leadership, deepens prayer, working together on outreach projects, but proportion of congregation in groups fallen, particularly young families, and can become inward looking

Monthly ‘Theology Thursday’ in a local pub: The ritual is light: people write down questions as and when and place them in the theological biscuit tin, we pick them at random and discuss them. We cover three or four questions each session lasting about 90 minutes

Pause for Prosecco- once a month evening ‘space’ that encourages ‘BIG Questions’ and fellowship at the local social club; we often use of prayer stations to end the evening

Pause for a Pint; an evening group that met once a month and is trialling meeting twice a month. The group encourages discussion of ‘BIG QUESTIONS’ and fellowship for men in the local pub

Monthly walk day – nature, exercise, prayer and poetry

‘Talking Tuesday’ – monthly, providing a safe space to explore big issues (intentionally not called a ‘house group’)

Lay Leaders:

Promotion of spiritual direction for those in lay leadership

Regular meetings with LPAs for reflective practice


Whole Parish Lent meetings

Lenten Personal Journey accompanied by a mentor/companion: discuss and agree a simple ‘rule for lent’ much easier for a curate to intro than the vicar (different dynamics)


Pray Serve Grow discussions in PCC meetings- has raised importance of growth on all sub-committees and enabled the church to move forward in its culture and thinking

PCC discussion on how to talk about my faith. Using some material from CMS- this is an ongoing discussion this year

Talking with PCC members about their spiritual gifts and looking at membership of PCC as being a spiritual responsibility


Diocesan Lent Prayer booklets valuable, not only for Discipleship but also to help my congregation members to realise they are part of something much bigger

Prayer Directory has a list of people and their contact details, but is split into 30 sections so that we can pray for a few people each day of each month

Exploring Christian Mindfulness/Contemplative Prayer – study/discussion and experiencing it 

Prayer Days and retreats, prayer stations, quiet days

Silent meditation and Lectio Divina in the benefice (weekly).  This arose from our own inner compulsions - it does us good, and from the literature, it does others good too, (contemporary mindfulness practice)

Prayer stations (discipleship in schools). Now teachers want more interactive prayers for their classrooms and reflective time in the curriculum

‘Roads 2 God’ – prayer exercise praying for roads in the parish, cards being delivered to houses asking for prayer requests. Prompted a new ‘Prayer chain’ with prayer champions praying for requests

Prayer partners/triplets

Prayer groups – small, ‘Whilst difficult to show a direct link, interestingly we are seeing things gather momentum in this village’


Stewardship campaign:

Has been owned by more members of the congregation so that the practice of giving generously is realised and owned by more people than the PCC


All-Age Service encouraging active involvement in planning and prep from adults and children

Messy church discipleship- ensuring that the Messy Church worship is reviewed so that both adults and children are learning

2 min talk in services from congregation members ‘Why I attend church and what my faith gives’ and ‘why I give my time to church and money to church’

Regular ‘Talk time’ in services to engage the congregation in discussion and peer learning as well as sermons

Sermon series on the Five Marks of Mission

Preaching intentionally on discipleship based on the Lectionary Gospel readings. We have started fairly gently with some “big picture” ideas about what patterns of discipleship we might take from the Gospels, including looking at St Peter as a reassuring model!  As we progress through ordinary time, I hope to move onto more specific topics, like generosity and community. 

Trying different styles of liturgy, and a non-Eucharistic service

Interview style sermons slots with those who talk about what they are doing in the community to help enable people to talk about their faith to those outside church

Breakfast church

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