From the Archbishop
The Call of
The Most Revd Kay Goldsworthy AO, Archbishop
What is discipleship? Of course, we Anglicans know the answer to this question. We know that it means more than simply being a student or a follower of a teacher.
As a teenager, when I was first aware of what it means to be a disciple, I was working out why the stories of Jesus meant something to me. It meant enough for me to be ‘all-in’ for church.
It was there that I heard gospel story after gospel story, telling about how Jesus loved people. He met them at their moments of deep need. He gave them a future, one that was incredibly different to what had been. He loved them with God’s love.
As a teenager those stories of God’s welcoming love found a home in me and changed my life.
Though I was just a young teenager, other disciples – other members of the church – found ways for me to participate and contribute in a way that was meaningful. I remember being in a small bible study group, where we not only learnt about how to read the bible, but also discussed ‘what does this text mean for us today?’ In that study group, every question was OK, and questioning was warmly encouraged.
Now, in my leadership roles, as one who has a responsibility for helping others become disciples, I am a storyteller and an encourager. I help people to work out where they need to be, as followers of Jesus. In parish ministry, for example, I really focussed on the study groups of the day including Companions in Christ, Disciple and EfM – the Education for Ministry programme, where people grew into new and mature ways of following. Now, as a bishop, I enjoy working with teachers and leaders in our schools. With them, I listen to their connections with God. We talk about Christian leadership, and about finding accessible ways to communicate the love of Jesus to young people in this part of the 21st century. My ministry includes encouraging adults on the fringes of faith to re-connect with the God they may have let go of in the past, and to explore being a disciple from deep in the core of their being, as someone whom Jesus has called to follow him.
Late in May, the Lambeth Call on Discipleship was launched in a webinar with an invitation to Anglicans around the globe to pray and study together, strengthening our common life and listening for the Holy Spirit as we seek the future. The Call emphasises the importance of discipleship, the study of the Bible, and the need for spiritual growth within the Church.
This Call urges individuals, congregations, and the entire Church to embrace a life of discipleship. and deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The call emphasises the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, the need for personal conversion, ongoing repentance, and daily prayer. It also highlights the role of the Church in nurturing and equipping disciples through teaching, mentoring, and fostering community in the body of Christ.
One foundational text from the Call is Jesus' Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:19-20. Jesus sends believers to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus has commanded. Another key passage is found in Luke 9:23. Jesus says, ‘If anyone wants to become my follower, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me, ‘emphasizing the self- giving, self-sacrificial nature of discipleship, and the call to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, even when it is challenging and hard.
The Lambeth Call on Discipleship is a significant document that I hope many will use in your in personal study time, in a small group, or in your parish community over the next few months, seeing how this Call sits alongside the Five Marks of Mission, as a rule of life for Anglicans.
The link to the webinar and related resources is at Bible Study Resources - Discipleship (lambethconference.org)
How about each of us do something, over the coming weeks, to deepen our own discipleship? It will help us become the person who invites someone else to ‘come and see!’