Reflecting on six special weeks at Newbury Baptist Church
Yesterday I finished teaching all six sessions of the Disciple’s Way course at Newbury Baptist Church. Each session has been taught twice, to different audiences afternoon and evening. Ages have ranged from under 20 to over 90, and over 80 different people have attended. The course was originally written in 2012, and later led to the research and publication of Journey: the way of the disciple, earlier this year.
Together we have laughed, cried, studied, reflected and pondered. We used teaspoons as a visual prompt to prayer (thank you, sorry, please) we wrote postcards to St Paul, we planned a shared journey around the world and we wrote a ‘disciple’s code’. We listened to 54 carefully selected songs, watched 20 videos, read lots of Bible stories, critiqued a sermon, listened to 11 live testimonies and prayed together. We even had people dressing up as pilgrims, complete with staff, scallop shell and floppy hat.
We collected people’s wisdom about what made the journey worth it in the first place – as seen in the wordle below.
We collected ideas on a ‘Disciple’s code’, intended, like the countryside code, to enable safe passage for all:
During yesterday’s closing session, we thought about the importance of maintaining momentum all the way from leaving home to journey’s end. On reading Paul’s lonely final words from prison in 2 Timothy 4 , we decided to write him a postcard to keep him going.
You can see a selection of the completed cards below, with messages both funny and sincere. However, the one phrase I would pick out is this: we have enclosed a mirror – take a look in it and you will see a good and faithful servant. This kind of warm, human encouragement has been the oil which has kept the wheels of this course turning.
To teach any such course to those who been have long on the journey is a danger. Will they have heard it all before? When one of our older participants said to me yesterday ‘I have been a Christian for 67 years and this has been such a help’, I was reassured.
When the course grew into a three-year research project which then grew into a book, my aim was always to ensure that every disciple’s journey becomes a pilgrim’s journey – no matter where they tread. Hopefully, that dream is coming true…