The core vision of The Mathetes Trust is to help make disciples in the local church, and one way of doing this is to produce innovative materials for use in small groups. Last year the Anglican Communion decided to put discipleship at the top of its agenda, and its report Intentional Discipleship recommended three discipleship courses for use worldwide. One of these in Rooted in Jesus, a course which we wrote for rural Africa, and another is The God Who Is There which we wrote for the UK but is now also widely used in South Africa.
Most group discipleship materials adopt the method which put Bible study back on the map a generation or so ago: group members were invited to look up Bible verses at home and then answer some questions. The answers were then explored fully when the group met.
The originality of The God Who Is There lies in the interactive lesson plan format, a familiar concept for any school teacher. The course consists of 30 topical lesson plans beginning with Creation, continuing with Sin and Suffering, and going forward from there; group members are given a copy of a booklet with spiritual and practical exercises to complete at home after each session. It’s probably true to say that The God Who Is There offers a lesson plan for almost any major Christian topic! The other original feature of this course is that it places a much greater emphasis on the corporate nature of discipleship, following Alison Morgan’s observation that the plural of disciple is Church. We cannot be disciples of Jesus alone; we can only be disciples together.
It has been particularly encouraging to work with Colin Cooper, an Anglican minister in Chesterfield. Colin has invited the entire church to join a group to follow the first part of the course, Beyond Ourselves. Colin feels that people have grown in both understanding and commitment, and the church is soon to start on the next book, The New Community. Every Sunday the sermon takes the next week’s topic from the course; Roger has been delighted to be invited to visit the church and preach some of these sermons.
If you would like to find out more about The God Who Is There have a look at our page on Small Groups, where you will find some commendations from those who have used it, and be able to see the outcomes that can be expected for churches who follow the course.
It’s that time of year!
If you still haven’t sorted yourselves for Lent, you may like to take a look at our tried and tested Lent Course Season of Renewal. Written by Alison Morgan and Bill Goodman, it follows the same interactive format, with lots of exercises to do during and after each session. It can be previewed and ordered from our Publications page.
“A group of about ten of us finished ‘Season of Renewal’ last night. It was unanimously agreed that it had been the most inspiring and helpful Lent course we had ever shared in” – Canon John Gunstone