Transforming discipleship in Telford
Ecumenical Mission Enabler for Telford & Shropshire, Rev Chris Densham, shares the story of #DoYouKnowHimTelford?...
Imagine 51 Churches of every denomination and stream across a Borough with one aim. To spend ten weeks focusing on discipleship and evangelism, encouraging one another to get to know Jesus better and then to share that good news with those around them.
#DoYouKnowHim? is a simple concept that was initially developed by the Churches in Skipton spearheaded by Rev Phil Burns and was adopted by the churches of Telford & Wrekin earlier this year. Telford has a long history of working ecumenically. Along with other new towns of that era, the historic denominations were determined to work together, to establish church at the heart of new communities. This has continued and now a strong core of church and lay leaders has, in the last decade, worked together to raise the missional impact of the church. #DoYouKnowHimTelford? is the latest step on the journey.
Sermon titles and outline notes, together with midweek study notes and materials for children were produced by a team of church leaders from different traditions. Youth material was produced by Engage, the ecumenical secondary schools project.
These materials were positively received, as one Lay Reader expressed 'I have been using the #DoYouKnowHimTelford? material for both preaching and for the small groups and I wanted to say how much I appreciate them. The small group booklet is accessible, easy to follow with little preparation needed and I like the variety of styles within it'.
An image and logo were created to support the initiative. And large banners and posters were hung outside Churches and in homes. A Facebook Page and Group were created, and posts boosted. A wrap-around advert was placed on the front of the local free newspaper. The intention being to try and raise awareness of the question, so that individual Christians could follow this up.
To encourage faith sharing, Chris Duffett, an experienced evangelist and trainer of evangelists, led two Saturday training sessions. The initiative extended to local primary and secondary schools with pre-recorded Religious Education lessons and an art competition.
Overall the initiative was a huge encouragement to the church across the Borough. A frequently reported response from Church goers has been that they’ve been following Jesus for years, but have been deeply challenged as to whether they really know Him. As one church leader put it 'my understanding of what discipleship means and looks like has been radically transformed'.
One church was so impressed by the youth materials that they created a new youth group to use them.
Several churches took the opportunity to use the time to prayer walk their “patch”, seeking to discern what God is calling them to next.
Another church created their own evangelistic course based around their own journey in discipleship. Three friends accepted the invitation, thoroughly enjoyed the course, and are continuing the journey with them.
If your church or local group would like to find out more about this initiative you can contact Rev Chris by email.
Find out more about Telford Christians Together.