Coordinator for Intentional Discipleship, The Revd Jolyon Trickey, reflects on a recent Intentional Discipleship visit to Lusaka in Zambia.
Z is for….
My grand-daughter, Jemima, loves mimicking words. ‘Appul’ (Apple) was one of her first, as we have many in our garden. Her latest are ‘Zambia’ & ‘Zebra’, because Grandad was in Zambia with the team who oversee Intentional Discipleship across the whole Anglican Communion. We came from the Philippines, Amazonia and all places between, to consider how we can encourage all Anglicans to Live and Share a Jesus Shaped Life.
Zambia comes last in many ways: in the alphabet and as a new nation that is economically weak and struggling with failed rains and poor harvests. The Anglican Church there has also been struggling. Yet the Church in Zambia, the Lusaka Diocese in particular, is among the first in terms of Intentional Discipleship.
We heard from The Rt Revd David Njovu, Bishop of Lusaka Diocese, how a large conference in 2014, for all groups in the Church, had a ‘transfiguration’ experience. ‘We recognised’, he explained, ‘that our people make an emotional response to the gospel, but have no deep roots or deep relationships with God. We decided we needed to disciple our people and to do so intentionally. In 2015 we agreed to be a Church that seeks, empowers and transforms God’s people for mission and we identified 8 key goals. For us the ACC16 Resolution, calling for a season of Intentional Discipleship, was a confirmation from the Lord that we were on the right path’.
Local clergy explained that:
- a new lectionary now focusses the whole Church upon discipling (family in 2018 & community in 2019);
- 20/20 groups are equipping 20 at a time for discipleship and then asking them to disciple another 20;
- one church now uses a 4 level discipleship course to induct new members & train people for ministry. It is now a multi-generation church, growing especially amongst the young.
These and many other things have already led to growth in baptisms, confirmations, small groups and many other ministries
The Intentional Discipleship Co-ordinating Group loved being together. We prayed, worshipped and dreamt of an Anglican Church that lives and shares a Jesus Shaped Life in every one of the 168 countries in the Communion. We laid plans for how this focus might permeate our prayer & worship life, our liturgy and songs and how to make deep formation & discipleship central to our training institutions and our churches. We looked at resources, a strategy for regional teams and our communications.
But our main learning came from being in Zambia and amongst God’s people there.
Grandad came home with a wooden Zebra for Jemima. He also learnt that in God’s kingdom ‘The first shall be last and the last shall be first’. Z is for Zambia. God is at work in the Anglican Church in Zambia, where an honest focus upon ‘the need to disciple our people, and doing so intentionally’, is growing God’s Church!