Setting God’s People Free
Within the Church of England, there is a change in culture and practice towards whole-life discipleship.
Rowan Williams in his recent book, ‘Being Disciples’ summed this up as:
“Discipleship is a way of life; a state of being’... It is rooted in a living relationship with Christ in which we learn and grow by following him and living in his Way. A disciple is one who is called to learn how to be a place in the world where the act of God can come alive.”
‘Setting God’s People Free...for Monday to Saturday’ is a national programme of change to enable Christian people to live out their faith naturally and openly, in all aspects of their daily lives, from Monday to Saturday as well as on a Sunday. It looks outside Church structures to the roles that Christians play in communities and the wider society.
Dr Nick Shepherd, Programme Director for ‘Setting God’s People Free’ invites all Christians to seek out what God is calling them to ‘be’ and ‘do’ in their own homes, community, church, workplace – and elsewhere. The SGPF programme then enables everyone with a Christian faith to develop the language and confidence to speak out about the impact of their relationship with God, and why it matters so much to them.
A small team of people* from our Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich are currently engaged in a Learning Community, working with representatives from eight other Dioceses** across the country to support and develop the programme. The teams are sharing examples of local practice and stories of Christians who are open about their faith, who have found that it has had a deep impact upon them and made a positive difference in their lives and those of others. ‘Setting God’s People Free’ reminds us that being a Christian is a way of life – not a Sunday-only club or a historical buildings preservation society! A Christian is an Ambassador for Christ.
*Current Lead Team for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese:
Bishop Martin Seeley, Ruth Dennigan (Discipleship and Ministry Development Officer), Canon Michael Wilde (Diocesan Lay Chair), Canon Dave Gardner (Director of Mission and Ministry), Elaine Hawes (Lay Elder, PCC Chair Benhall St Mary’s)
**Dioceses involved in the same Learning Community as St Edmundsbury and Ipswich:
Carlisle, Chester, Chichester, Gloucester, Leeds, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Southwark.
For further information please visit www.churchofengland.org/SGPF
This time tomorrow…..by the Revd Canon Dave Gardner
One of the ways to help members of the congregation to live out their live out their faith naturally and openly, in all aspects of their daily lives is to briefly interview them in a Sunday service asking three simple questions:
- What will you be doing this time tomorrow?
- What are the challenges you will be facing?
- In what ways can we all pray for you?
At St Matthews Church Ipswich this practice has been undertaken for many years. Recently I have heard three inspiring stories of congregation members.
A teenage young person shared how she sought to live out her faith in her secondary school where there were very few Christians or at least very few that would openly admit to having a Christian faith. More recently a policeman asked for prayer to be a reassuring visible presence on the streets of Ipswich following an upsurge in gang related activity including a fatal stabbing. A Headteacher of a nursery and infant school spoke passionately about the struggle she would be facing to make ends meet partly due to the inequality of finance for Suffolk children.
Three very different stories told with different degrees of confidence but all seeking to express their faith Monday to Saturday and not just on Sunday.
No wonder in the booklet Setting God’s people free for Monday to Saturday the comment is made that ‘This time tomorrow’ has proved to be the single most important action a leader can take to remind us that being a Christian is a way of life – not a Sunday-only club.