Anvil journal of theology and mission
Challenging discipleship, noticing the Spirit and nurturing everyday faith
by James Butler
The suggestion that what is needed in churches in twenty-first century Britain is better discipleship is an almost irrefutable statement. Discipleship has been held up as a direct response to church decline and a cornerstone of church renewal. The logic goes that if people grew and deepened in faith, then they would become more actively involved in church, evangelism and mission. Engaging with the grassroots experience of learning in the Methodist Church, through this research project, has brought some helpful insights that challenge typical narratives of discipleship and church renewal. In particular is the insight that the development and deepening of faith often take place in informal and conversational ways in the midst of everyday life. This raises important questions about the discipleship narrative, particularly around who is discipled, who is doing the discipling and where that discipleship happens. In theological terms, this is about agency within discipleship and the relationship between the work of the Spirit, the work of the leader and the actions of the individual Christian. I will argue that the accounts of learning and deepening faith from our participants challenge a notion that the leader is that agent of discipleship and instead put the emphasis primarily on the work of the Spirit. They also suggest that churches need to see everyday life, and not the formal patterns of church, as the primary site of learning. I propose that Christians should, rather than seeing themselves as teachers who pass on knowledge, be seeking to cultivate practices of noticing, nurturing and naming in response to the work of the Spirit. I argue for a much more reciprocal approach to discipleship that promotes mutual accompaniment rather than a relationship of disciple and discipler.
I will begin by outlining the turn to discipleship within Christian denominations and the problem of agency particularly in the work of David Heywood and Mike Moynagh. To do this critique I will turn to the lived practice explored in our research, and finally I will outline the practices of noticing, nurturing and naming as key practice of mission and discipleship.
The turn to discipleship
In denominations, organisations and training institutions the language of discipleship continues to gain currency. It was at the heart of the Church of England’s programme of Renewal and Reform,1 it has been highlighted in the Roman Catholic Church by various voices,2 and British Methodism has used it as a key way to understand its core principles and the Methodist Way of Life.3 The World Council of Churches’ Commission on World Mission and Evangelism put discipleship front and centre in the Arusha Call to Discipleship, and it is pointed to a key within many texts about mission.4 In their edited volume, Andrew Hayes and Stephen Cherry highlight how the term discipleship has been raised to “new levels of prominence and significance within the church” and how there has been a huge range of programmes, materials and books on the subject.5 They chose the title The Meanings of Discipleship to reflect the “diversity and plurality of discipleship” and their volume is a witness to such diversity.6 Simon Foster observers similar trends but highlights how often the perspectives of ordinary Christians are missing.7 During his research he identified that the language of “disciple” held little traction with these ordinary Christians who did not regard themselves in that way, so much so that he left the question referring to disciples out of his questionnaire.8 While Foster continued to use the term disciple in his research, his experiences raise interesting questions, given the prevalence of the term in wider literature, of why it had so little purchase for ordinary Christians. The fact that they don’t recognise themselves as disciples does not necessarily mean that they see no need to grow and develop in faith, but it might indicate that their self-understanding is rather different. What is the benefit of naming them as disciples and to whom? This is the focus of this paper: exploring questions of agency in learning and discipleship.
To demonstrate this problem with agency in the accounts of discipleship, I will briefly turn to two authors who use the language of discipleship within their proposals for church renewal within the C of E: David Heywood and Mike Moynagh.9 For both, discipleship is a key means to developing a focus on mission and seeing churches grow and flourish. Both make observations that are in keeping with the findings of this project: around the need for discipleship to be focused around everyday life; about it being relational; and how it is different for every person, relating to their own vocation and journey. Heywood recognises that “most learning is unplanned and completely informal”, is often unconscious, is normally related to personal goals and vocation, and takes into account past experience.10 Likewise Moynagh emphasises the “varied nature of people’s [faith] journeys toward Jesus” and how in contemporary Britain that journey tends to be more prolonged.11 What is striking about both accounts is that despite acknowledging the importance of the informal and unconscious, when they turn to talk about discipleship, they address the leaders as those who are responsible for discipleship. Heywood addresses “Christian educators” and leaders helping them to plan curricula and encouraging them to lead Christians into reflective learning. While often emphasising their facilitating and enabling role, they are positioned centrally within the discussion of developing discipleship and he spends some time offering a justification for the leaders determining the aims and objectives of learning.12 Although he recognises the place of both formal and informal learning, he quickly turns to learning in the formal processes with a section headed “planning a programme of Christian learning”.13 Moynagh is less explicit about who is being addressed, but the implication is that there is a leader or a group of Christians who are helping other people coming along to the fresh expression to grow as disciples. Moynagh draws on models of faith development such as the Engel Scale, encouraging those leading to pay attention to the milestones of faith and to ask, “What stages have people reached and what would help them to take the next step?”14 In both accounts the leaders are those who plan, determine what is needed, identify the next steps and initiate the conversations. Both Heywood and Moynagh identify the significant role of the Spirit, but the primary focus of each book, at least in terms of the practices and approaches encouraged is the leader. Heywood states, “In everything I have written in the previous section about shared reflection I have assumed the presence of the Holy Spirit”15 and later states that “the Holy Spirit co-operates with the normal mechanisms of human learning”.16 Such broad summary statements cause me to question the extent to which the work of the Spirit is truly integrated into the account of learning given by Heywood. In reality, much of the focus of his writing remains on the leader and on the leader’s agency in the process. By turning to the lived experience of how people learn and grow in their faith from our research, I want to explore ways that the Spirit’s work can be seen as central and the conversational and informal nature of learning can remain the key site of learning.
While I have framed the paper around discipleship, and the turn to the language of discipleship in denominations was something which motivated the research, the language we used in the project was learning. We saw this as a more neutral term, although we found that it still had negative and unhelpful connotations for some within the research. In the next section I will therefore use our language of learning and particularly faith learning, before returning to discuss discipleship at the end of the paper.
Faith learning and the current context
As described in the editorial and project introduction, the accounts within our research reveal quite a different understanding of what we have called “faith learning” than is front and centre in the accounts of discipleship above. They tell of how developing, growing and changing in faith takes place in the midst of everyday life, often in the informal spaces, through conversations and through the ups and downs of everyday living. In this section I will highlight how these grassroots accounts offer a different perspective on the issues of discipleship discussed above. Through them I will suggest a different way to understand faith learning and “discipleship” that retains the centrality of the informal and of the work of the Spirit.
In the discussions within the research sites, “learning” was most immediately associated with learning in school. Those who had enjoyed their school experience and succeeded in that kind of formal learning were happy to embrace similar patterns of learning in church. We met with a number of Bible study groups who enjoyed that approach and found the discussion helpful and enriching. The kinds of curricula and patterns of learning encouraged by Heywood would appeal to these groups, but for those who had had a bad experience of learning in school, there was more resistance and hesitancy. Rose,17 from Oakfields Methodist Church, a small suburban congregation, was worried about not being able to find the “right answers” in the Bible study she participated in. She reflected on the way their new minister ran the Bible study in a much more discursive way.
[The previous minister] was very good at explaining and it was lovely to hear her and to understand but the truth is she did all the work, you know. I think [the current minister] makes us work a bit harder but we never seem to know the answers or I don’t, anyway.
She was happy to listen to someone else talk about the Bible, but when the rest of the group was asked to contribute, she felt that they didn’t know the answers. Anne, from a church in a small rural town, described her experience of leading such a Bible study.
One of the ladies in particular was very reluctant to join in anything that she thought was too academic. She used the word theological but I think she really meant academic. And therefore, the word “study” was off-putting so we called it Bible chat. And we said that it was going to be easy enough for everyone to take part in.
People within the group… were thinking it was going to be too difficult, too hard. But I don’t think any of the material was particularly. It was just their expectation that it might be.
Thinking of it as a chat rather than a study was not simply a case of disguising the learning, it changed the expectation of what kind of learning might be taking place and what kind of participation might be acceptable. Ann found that everyone had enjoyed it and they had had some really good conversations. Rita relayed something similar from the Lent Bible study group on the book of Jonah that she had been involved with.
It wasn’t just about learning facts and things like that. Having a laugh at some of the peculiar and wonderful situations that this dear gentleman got himself into. It was also about how this changes your own spiritual growth and where you are. And you can’t put a finger on that.
In our conversations we tried to move the discussion towards other ways of understanding learning. In contrast to her concerns about giving “right answers”, when Rose reflected on the ways she had grown and matured in faith, she expressed how it was through “comradeship and the support, seeing everybody Sunday through Sunday”. She describes how being a Christian means to “follow Christ’s teaching. You have to understand other people, how they see things. We don’t put people down, we try and be kind, try and be helpful, try to be fair, do your best really.” Her lived experience of growing in faith was in the everyday faithfulness of following, loving and serving. In the same church Tom talked about how “it’s been a continuous journey… your faith deepens, you learn and you change through experiences and just by going on this journey of life with other people”. When we asked where this happened in the life of this church, people began to talk about the “deep conversations”. Learning and growing in faith happened through conversations where people shared more personally and openly. It was easiest to identify deep conversations happening in times bereavement and serious illness. The church had previously reflected how to encourage these conversations and had tried to have lunches together after church, but it did not work as they would have hoped. These conversations where faith deepened could not be easily made to happen.
There were some clues from other sites about how conversations deepen. Keith, from one congregation in a fairly small, semi-rural town, made this observation.
You learn more in a coffee morning than you’ve done in church because you start to talk about what was said then and all of a sudden it broadens out.
“Broadening” and “deepening” were ways participants described these moments when conversations take a turn and more significant connection and learning seems to take place. These are more easily identified in the big events of life such as bereavement, illness and having children. But Keith suggests that these moments can also happen in everyday conversation. These deep conversations cannot be made to happen, but when space is made for everyday conversations, like in the coffee after church, sometimes they do. Similarly, we saw moments taking place in other ways in everyday life: visiting the elderly, a walk in the countryside, a chance conversation on the dog walk, the cuppa at the farmhouse table or the conversations at parent and toddler group. Rather than try to make these conversations happen, it was more about tuning in to notice them. The more we looked, the more we saw faith learning taking place in these ordinary and everyday moments. People taking risks and stepping out in their lives also deepened faith and there were examples of people doing the prayers in church, getting involved in a children’s summer lunch club, helping with RE in schools and volunteering to visit the elderly. People noticed the ways in which stepping out and trying something was an opportunity to grow and develop.18
The context for so much of this learning taking place was the caring community. There were many stories of people being supported and cared for that were important for their own faith. Wendy described how her hope was to “explore faith and what it means to us in the context of the loving group that we have, that can encourage, support and help us move on”. We heard this too in more formal theological education settings. Ruth, who had trained for ordination, talked about her experience at theological college.
I learned more through that experience of kindness and compassion than I think anything because it was the relationship of being cared for. That was the formation.
In these caring groups people learned to see and experience God. Alice, who was working as a pioneer in a rural area, described how much she liked visiting the small chapels.
If I were retired… I’d go to one of these little churches because that’s where they know me, that’s where I know them. That’s where I can have intimate conversations and personal conversations. That’s when I come up face to face to people and see God in their face and hear God in their story.
It is in the loving group and the caring community and through the relationships that form that people can hear and see God in their interactions between each other.
As we explored faith learning in focus groups and reflector meetings, it became clear that the kind of learning associated with faith was different from learning in school or learning skills for a job. It was difficult to describe this type of learning, as Rita noted.
You’ve got this rather mysterious side of spirituality, haven’t you, which you can’t put your finger on to say is that learning. You’ve developed, let’s say, in that side of your life. Because it’s difficult to put it into words, isn’t it? So how would you put that down on a feedback form?
William noted “faith is different” to learning in school. He compared biology, “where it’s mostly about learning things, applying things”, with faith, where “you allowed that to blossom and to become part of you and your personality and your whole being”. Kate, the minister of the church where William and Wendy were members, reflected on how one sees things differently as they grow and develop, saying, “The only thing I can say to you is it’s Spirit-led.”
Presented in this way it could easily sound like the best thing to do is allow everyone to just find what works for them; to trust that the Spirit is at work and leave them to it. Certainly, some of the participants, particularly those who emphasised that they had a “practical faith”, were reticent to identify a place for engagement with the Christian story and Scripture, what in our research we have referred to as “normative voices”.19 Elizabeth, part of Westown Church, and heavily involved in serving and supporting others within the church and beyond, stated, “I guess it’s more about being and doing and relationships than, you know, why would I need to talk about it?” However, we did find a clear place for normative voices. In one focus group in a rural church, we heard about how important the supportive coffee group was. It was only later in the conversation we discovered that there was some element of Bible reflection within the gathering when one member said, “If the Coffee and Conversation, it was just having a chat and coffee, I don’t think it would be the same.” She explained how the Bible helped to “centre their thoughts”. These more formal elements of learning had a place, often feeding the conversations in natural and at times surprising ways, but the ways in which these voices resonated and the way learning came about was not really planned. It needed to be responded to in the caring and loving context discussed above.
Learning, change and growth in faith appears to happen in the peripheral spaces, in the everyday and in unexpected ways. It happens in a context of conversations and caring relationships. This can also be seen in the interviews included in this edition of ANVIL. It is in the moment when conversations “deepen” and “broaden” out. These moments are life moments, the events, crises and unexpected moments of life. They can come through risks and trying things out, and they are enabled because of the caring and supportive people around. Most significantly, this kind of faith learning is not easily pinned down, “you can’t put your finger on it” and is “Spirit-led”.
Allowing the Spirit to lead
As we have shared the insights about faith learning developed above with those involved in encouraging and enabling learning, they agree with what we have identified. The fact that people are always learning, and this learning takes place in conversational, informal and even unconscious ways, is not in itself a new insight. The problem arises when educators and leaders try to draw on these insights to develop approaches to discipleship. So often the response to such observations is to ask how these insights can be drawn into formal learning and how they shape the way the leader approaches their learning. For Heywood this meant leaders placing theological reflection at the heart of learning and designing curricula around the felt needs of learners. For Moynagh this meant leaders identifying the next steps for those exploring faith and becoming involved in the church. This results in the agent of learning and discipleship reverting to the leader, and tries to draw these insights into the formal sites of learning, rather than finding ways to enable what is already going on. A story from the data helps to illustrate this point.
In one focus group the story was told of a group of friends who would go out for a coffee together after the service, and often go to each other’s houses for Sunday lunch. They described how they “discuss all kinds of things, and quite often someone will say, ‘Oh, what did you think of the sermon this morning?’” which opened up a variety of conversations. “We have an opportunity to discuss and question and… ideas, so that people would get more out of it.” They noticed how, within these informal gatherings, opportunities sometimes appeared for conversations to deepen. Someone responded to this story and compared that with their own experience.
We did [something similar] for a while with the Revd Jones after preaching; he decided one Sunday a month to have a discussion service. He said a few words for about five minutes, then we sat in a circle in the vestry and he faced us, and we asked questions and had a discussion. Most of the questions went over my head, but… so we did try that for a while.
The idea of learning through conversation is picked up by the Revd Jones, but it is brought into the formal space and rather than being the “opportunity to discuss and question” in the Sunday lunch example, this just went over their head. This is the move made by Heywood, and in a different way by Moynagh, to bring these insights into the assumed learning context rather than to find ways to create spaces to support and facilitate that learning. Heywood wants leaders to design curricula and Moynagh wants them to develop pathways and stepping stones, but in the context of the reflections on grassroots learning, I suggest a different emphasis is needed. Given the importance of informal conversation, peripheral spaces and the everyday experiences of life, both big and small, they need to be at the centre of what we refer to as “discipleship”. Even more significant is the sense that this needs to be primarily identified as a work of the Spirit. In this section I will propose a way that this can be done drawing on the insights of “not being able to put your finger on” the kind of learning going on and naming it as Spirit-led. If the Spirit’s agency is primary, what might it mean to take an approach to learning that, following a missio Dei theology, seeks to discern what the Spirit is doing and join in?20 To do this I’m identifying three postures: noticing, nurturing and naming.
It was interesting to see how the kinds of conversations we had within the research as we gathered with the teams, had focus groups and reflected together on what we were learning were identified a number of times by participants as something they needed to do more of. A missio Dei theology of mission sees mission as God’s, with Christians and churches called to participate in that mission. This has been summed up more popularly, following Rowan Williams, as “finding out where the Spirit is at work and joining in”.21 While this is a complex and somewhat contested task, what is needed is a posture of noticing and discernment. This can be picked up in the context of faith learning. Noticing is about developing an openness to what God is doing in our lives and the lives of those around us. In the data this happened in a context of care and through often informal conversations. Given the reflections on how deep conversations happen, one way to explore this further would be to become sensitive to conversations and deepening and to notice what keeping that space open might look like.
Learning was identified in the data as taking place in the context of the “loving group”; of having a supportive community and of being cared for. Interestingly some of those involved in leading and training who participated in the research showed a level of resistance to the idea that a key role for a leader was support and care. They were happier with challenge and encouragement, but what we saw again and again was that ordinary life brings enough challenges, critical moments and events without a need for them to be created artificially. If faith learning happens in the everyday events and moment of life, both big and small, then the caring community and a posture of nurturing allows these moments to be noticed, to bring insight, to spark conversation and to deepen relationships as people learn together through them.
Pope Francis talks about mutual accompaniment, disciples accompanying disciples. He writes about the importance of trusting the Spirit’s work in the Christian and how the Spirit leads, guides and helps in discernment. Alongside trusting the Spirit is mutual accompaniment: “Missionary disciples accompany missionary disciples.”22 Francis describes accompaniment as an art, “remov[ing] our sandals before the sacred ground of the other”.23 Connecting to the idea of noticing, he encourages careful, compassionate and patient listening. “Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives.”24 The grassroots accounts of learning demonstrated this kind of growth, each person having their own experience of faith, and of learning together while accompanying each other in a nurturing community.
All this raises two important questions about the place of the Christian story and tradition, and how faith is shared. Rather than thinking about the Bible, the Christian story and the normative elements of faith as the things that need to be taught to encourage growth, we saw the ways the normative sources of faith-initiated conversations arose within wider conversations and helped make sense of experiences. In presenting this research there have been questions about whether we are placing less emphasis on Scripture and tradition, but what we are actually trying to highlight is how Scripture and tradition, and other normative voices, come from multiple sources and connect with the learning taking place in the ordinary and peripheral. These normative voices might be the starting point of a conversation as it connects to the life and faith of the Christians engaging with it, but it could just as easily be something offered into the natural flow of conversation. Rather than thinking about one source for the normative, these normative voices are more like multiple springs and wells that are discovered in the context of the accompaniment of the “loving group”: people sharing from their own experience and wisdom. After all, Christians are not empty vessels, but many of the people in the communities and churches have long histories of faithfully engaging in prayer, Bible, worship and mission. Viewed like this, it suggests there should be less anxiety on where the normative voice might come from, and a greater focus on recognising and naming those voices when they arise. The Christian story, the Bible and tradition can be seen as offering a shared language and a way of naming faith and the experiences. Mark McIntosh talks about spirituality being the impression of the encounter with God, and sees theology being the expression of that encounter.25 Naming these encounters and bringing them to expression takes them from being a personal experience to one that can be shared with others. By turning explicitly to the Bible and Christian tradition, there is a language where these experiences can be made sense of, discussed, shared and become meaningful for the whole group, not just the individual. The Christian story and tradition provide a language to name and share faith in the middle of deep conversations.
Growing in faith, hope and love – a conclusion
Rather than thinking of discipleship as something that needs to be initiated and planned by a leader or leadership team, our research suggests that it needs to be identified firstly as a work of the Spirit. The Spirit is at work in people’s lives, and as Francis highlights, trust is then one of the first responses. Rather than thinking about how leaders bring about discipleship, what I have offered is a series of postures for Christians that would enable a mutual and reciprocal approach to discipleship to develop, one that retains the Spirit as the primary agent of discipleship at work in everyday life, of learning and of deepening faith. These mean seeing discipleship primarily as participation in the work of Jesus and the Spirit.26 Postures of noticing, nurturing and naming through mutual and reciprocal relationships become the basis of a discipleship that sees the Spirit as the primary agent. As Christians we seek to participate in what God is doing in the lives of those around us and walk together on the journey of faith.
Turning attention to the agency of the Spirit in discipleship also raises the question of what learning is for. Rather than seeing learning in the context of reversing decline, renewing the church or even developing faith, the turn to the Spirit encourages it to be set in a wider and expansive eschatological vision. It is a learning that has an eschatological scope, that anticipates and participates in the coming kingdom of God. At the heart of learning is a vision of participation and of growing in wisdom. The letter of 1 Cor. surfaced regularly in conversations within the research project with its themes of maturing, of wisdom, of discerning and of love, and so perhaps that is the best place to finish here. 1 Cor. 13 is a reflection on what is important, what the things that last are and what the things that will come to an end are. This is an eschatological vision where the things that last – faith, hope and love – undergird all that is done. In the context of church decline and uncertainty of the place of faith in post-Christian Britain, these are words that offer hope and open our horizons to the work of the Spirit above our limited and at times anxiety-driven views.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.27
The kind of learning we need, the kind of discipleship we need, is the kind that notices the Spirit, participates in the work of Christ, and nurtures and names the things that arise; one that is focused on the things that last: faith, hope and love.
About the author
James Butler is pioneer MA lecturer and assistant coordinator for Pioneer Mission Training at Church Mission Society. He teaches in the areas of mission, ecclesiology and practical theology. His PhD explored how small missional communities sustain their social action. He also works as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Roehampton, researching themes of learning, discipleship and social action.
More from this issue
- Renewal and Reform has three stated goals: 1) contribute as the national church to the common good, 2) facilitate the growth of the church in numbers and depth of discipleship and (3) reimagine the church’s ministry. See The Archbishops’ Council, “General Synod: A vision and narrative for Renewal and Reform,” The Church of England (2017), https://www.churchofengland. org/sites/default/files/ 2017-11/gs_2038_-_a_vision_for_renewal_and _reform.pdf. ↩︎
- Sherry A. Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus (Huntingdon, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2012). ↩︎
- Martyn Atkins, “Contemporary Methodism: a discipleship movement shaped for mission [The General Secretary’s Report],” Methodist Conference Reports 2011 (The Methodist Church in Britain, 2011), accessed 4 June 2018, http://www.methodist.org.uk/ downloads/conf2011- pc-2-gen-sec-conference-report-0812.doc; Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples. ↩︎
- The Archbishops’ Council, “Setting God’s People Free,” The Church of England (2017), https://www.churchofengland. org/sites/default/files/2017-11/ gs-2056-setting-gods-people-free.pdf; Weddell, Forming Intentional Disciples; Atkins, “Contemporary Methodism”; World Council of Churches, “The Arusha Call to Discipleship,” International Review of Mission 107, no. 2 (2018): 542–46. ↩︎
- Andrew Hayes and Stephen Cherry, eds., The Meanings of Discipleship: Being Disciples Then and Now (London: SCM Press, 2021), 1. ↩︎
- Ibid., 3. ↩︎
- Simon Foster, “What Helps Disciples Grow?” Saltley Faith and Learning Series 2 (Birmingham: Saint Peter’s Saltley Trust, 2016), 2, accessed 21 July 2023, https://www.saltleytrust.org.uk/? ddownload=760 ↩︎
- Ibid.; something similar is lamented by Weddell. ↩︎
- David Heywood, Kingdom Learning: Experiential and Reflective Approaches to Christian Formation (London: SCM Press, 2017); Michael Moynagh, Church for Every Context: An Introduction to Theology and Practice (London: SCM Press, 2012). ↩︎
- Heywood, Kingdom Learning, 49. ↩︎
- Moynagh, Church for Every Context, 339. ↩︎
- Heywood, Kingdom Learning, 137. ↩︎
- Ibid., 125. ↩︎
- Moynagh, Church for Every Context, 340. ↩︎
- Heywood, Kingdom Learning, 108. ↩︎
- Heywood, Kingdom Learning, 124. ↩︎
- All names of people and churches are pseudonyms to protect the identity of participants. ↩︎
- I have written on this in more detail here: James Butler, “The ‘Long and Winding Road’ of Faith: Learning about the Christian Life and Discipleship from Two Methodist Congregations”, Practical Theology 13, no. 3 (2020): 277–89. ↩︎
- For more information see the introductory article in this edition of ANVIL, “Researching the grassroots experience of faith learning”. For more on the “four voices” approach, see Helen Cameron et al., Talking about God in Practice: Theological Action Research and Practical Theology (London: SCM Press, 2010); Clare Watkins, Disclosing Church: An Ecclesiology Learned from Conversations in Practice (London: Routledge, 2020). ↩︎
- Quoted in Kirsteen Kim, Joining in with the Spirit: Connecting World Church and Local Mission (London: SCM Press, 2012). ↩︎
- Ibid., 1. ↩︎
- Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, 2013, para. 173, http://www.vatican.va/ content/francesco/en/ apost_exhortations/ documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html ↩︎
- Ibid., para. 169. ↩︎
- Ibid., para. 171. ↩︎
- Mark A. McIntosh, Mystical Theology: The Integrity of Spirituality and Theology, 1st edition (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998), 6. ↩︎
- The apostle Paul’s emphasis on being “In Christ” and of “life through the Spirit” would be a helpful way to develop this. See, for example, Michael J. Gorman, Participating in Christ: Explorations in Paul’s Theology and Spirituality (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019). ↩︎
- 1 Cor. 13:12–13 (NRSV) ↩︎