Series One: Episode 1: Whole Life Discipleship

In today’s episode we begin to unpack what to expect in this our first series of the Journeying Faithfully podcast. 
We look at whole life discipleship and talk about the ways that our faith journeys are unique and different. We also begin to discuss how faith can relate to healing and what we can learn about discipleship during the pandemic.

Below are the show notes for our first podcast episode. The episode can be found on Spotify and by following the link below:

Section One

IntroductionAre you currently on a journey of faith? Lost and bored in the old ways of doing it? Want more creative and fun ways to deepen your faith? Then we welcome, to the podcast Journeying Faithfully, the monthly podcast, with your hosts Josh and Ash, as we begin to look for new and imaginative ways to explore our faith. Let’s take this journey together…

Section Two

The journeyIf you have ever wondered if there is more to faith than attending church on a Sunday or listening to Christian music in the car?  Well this is a podcast for you!
In each series Josh and Ash will look at a theme and explore how it can relate to our faith and how we can integrate it and develop our faith to incorporate our whole lives.  Each series we will try and include at least one guest who is working in that particular field to show how they have integrated faith and discipleship in their every day lives. 

Today’s episodeLet’s get down to today’s episode? What are we looking at today, Ash? Today we are looking at adult discipleship. And why is that important? Well, as we have already mentioned most “christians” understand attending church on a Sunday. They may even be attending a church virtually in the current climate. But many Christians don’t seem to appreciate the importance of developing their own walk with Christ. Yes, often we fail to remember that 98% of people who attend church on a Sunday will spend 95% of their lives beyond the church walls and that this is the primary context for their discipleship! Whether they be at home… we are all spending a lot of time at home at the minute. or at work, or at the school gate, on the sports pitch or whether they are most of our lives are not lived in the church building.  So, if that is the case, we need to think a bit about our discipleship then? Yes, we especially need to think about what it means to nurture our faith when we are not in the building. We need to think about what it means create “whole life discipleship.” Yes, we need to be intentional about spending time with God. And that doesn’t need to be boring.  Or even look a certain way. Not at all. There are so many ways we can connect our faith and lives together and they will not look the same for everyone.  Should we may talk about some of the ways we connect with God?  Yes, and while we are at it maybe we can bust some of the myths that church needs to be boring as well! Let’s maybe not try and tackle to much in one episode!
Section Three

Whole Life DiscipleshipSo why do we put our faith in a box? That’s an interesting question. I wonder if it’s because we get caught in a school type mindset. If we think of it as a type of learning. You read the bible to learn about God. Or you go to church to become a better person. I wonder if we frame it in terms of head knowledge.  Yes, often we get caught in wanting to know stuff. We need to prove that our faith means something, or that God exists, or that Jesus was real and we do not leave space for what some people call heart knowledge.  Yes, Jane Regan, who is a Director of Continuing Education and Associate Professor of Theology and Religion Education at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, argues that “information is not enough – it is information for its own sake”. She goes on to suggest that what we need is “information that is in the service of formation and transformation”. Now, that is something I could buy into. The idea that we take our “head knowledge”. The things we learn in Sunday School maybe and transform them into heart knowledge. But, how do we go about that? Well, it’s different for everybody isn’t it. No two people are the same and neither is our faith. We cannot all follow the same path.  And that’s  what makes discipleship so exciting.  Yes, it is. For me, what I think is amazing about Christianity, is hearing people’s stories. Often people come to faith from different places and that impacts how their faith works. For me, I was raised a Christian. From a young age a read the bible and learnt about God. I knew a lot of it in my head but it wasn’t till much later that it resonated in my heart. That it became heart knowledge. For me faith wasn’t found in dust old books, although I read a lot of them at Theological College, but in spending time with others. Encountering God in the day-to-day outside of church on a Sunday.  But, what could that look like? For me it is nature. I love walking and can often find God more in the hills than in my study. If I can pray and walk I am at peace. God is different for everyone though.

Faith is different for me I didn’t’ come to church as a young person and the way I have connected with God has been through finding different ways to pray at different times. I came to faith when I was 18 and I definitely believed that everyone had some magic formula to prayer and faith and it took a long time to realise that God is in the everyday. That how I connect to Him can be in the everyday. … Yes, we are all different. All our stories are unique and as we think about discipleship we need to be willing to adapt the practices of others to help us develop and grow.  We need to improvise.  You know I love improvisation. As a drama student and wanna be jazz musician there is nothing better than improvisation. But what could it have to do with our discipleship? Well, Helen Cameron, who is chair of the Northampton District of the Methodist Church, suggests that as disciples we are called to be playful both in our witness and our discipleship.  Oh, that makes sense it’s like when you let a toddler loose with paints in the garden.  Kind of, but a bit more structured. Cameron writes: ‘It is playful improvisation when play means meaningful and purposeful thought and behaviour that has patterns but no prescribed our predetermined outcomes.’ Yes, you need to be given the tools. That’s what we do with 5% of our time in church and then we take those tools into the world and improvise. Yes, it isn’t exactly like the toddler in the garden. More like the musician outside of the music lesson. We practice the skills we learn in church and use them in a way which works in our day-to-day lives. So we need to be creative and imaginative with the tools we are given? Yes, that’s it.  The question seems to be: what can we do in our every day lives which can connect us to God?  Yes, but before that, we need to ask what are we missing in our lives that mean we are not connecting to God. Yes, and that is what this podcast will be about. Each episode we are going to take a theme and look at what it can show us about discipleship and offer some simple take aways that we could use in our day-to-day lives to connect more with God.

There is another question though.  Really? Yes, and it is one which is very specific to our current time.  You mean like now, at 7.50 pm, when we are recording this? No, I mean in 2021.  Oh, and what’s that? What does discipleship look like in a digital world? Yes, that makes sense. I suppose we could say we are spending 100% of our time outside of church and there must be lessons that are specific to that. There are, but I also wonder why we have been so fearful of technology in the past? I wonder if we have been?  We haven’t got models that seem to sustain our faith.  But, what about all the work we have done this year. Yes, and that has been wonderful but could we go further? I think we may be getting side tracked from the issue.  You may be right, but as we think about our whole life discipleship we need to think about what life may look like in the future and what role technology can play in that.  Is that why we have recorded a podcast? In part, but also I think “hybrid church” will be a thing for a lot of people because it helps them connect with faith in ways they could not before. Yes, like the lady in Neston who couldn’t face sitting in a pew but can worship from the comfort of her own home.  Yes, and I am sure there are many more who have been excluded from worship who are now a part of our church.  I see what you mean. Maybe we should think about how the pandemic has effected us?

The pandemic has pushed us to think more and more out of the box when it comes to our faith. We have lost so many of the ways we used to do “church” and our own discipleship has become even more important.  Yes, and I suppose there will be a temptation to just jump back in when things go to normal? Exactly, and yet there are so many things we can learn from the pandemic about our faith.  Maybe we will value the scattered and gathered times we can spend as Christians more.  I certainly hope so! I also think it has prompted us as a church to think more about discipleship. Yes it has.  Should we maybe tell people what our focus will be this series? I’ll be impressed if they are still with us.. Yes, but I am sure they are. They listen to us at other times! I guess so! This series we are going to look at the interplay between health and faith.  Yes, we are going to use your experiences in theology and your experience in pharmacy,  to look at how we can use our whole lives to worship God more fully.  That sounds amazing! Should we start now? Well, I think we have discussed a lot this week. So maybe we should leave it there? On a cliff hanger Not on a cliff hanger no…

We have learnt so much in fact that I just don’t want people to go away frazzled!  Okay, okay, maybe I have got a little over excited! Yes, but that’s what our faith should be like.  Exciting! and creative. That’s what we’ve talked about today, isn’t it? Yes, we have learnt that our discipleship is about more than the 5% of time we spend in the church building.  It’s about how we spend the other 95% Our time in church should equip our faith outside of it  Yes, and we should approach faith in a playful way.  It’s not about a formula or set of rules . Instead it is about connecting with God in a meaningful and purposeful way. That’s so important, especially while we cannot go to church. Or church isn’t exactly what we expected it to be. We need to be willing to connect in new ways.  Exactly, and that is what we will be looking at in future episodes.  So, what are we exactly looking at in future episodes? Well, the next episode is all about health and the gospels. We are going to explore together the dynamic and creative ways Jesus demonstrates connecting healing and faith.  Great, that sounds interesting.  What can the listener do in the meantime though? Well, they could become part of the journey.  And how would they do that? Well, if you have been inspired or intrigued by what you have heard today why not subscribe to the podcast on whatever streaming platform you have used to listen today. Also, make sure to sign up to our mailing list and also check out journeyingfaithfully.comWe cannot wait to continue the journey and we hope you enjoyed today’s episode.  Thanks for joining us on the journey. 

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