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Last updated 9th October 2018

2019 Diocesan Year of Discipleship

In 2019, the Diocese is beginning a period of focusing on Making Disciples, which will encourage people from parishes across the diocese to engage with the importance of discipleship in our everyday lives as Christians.

Archdeacon Mark Ireland, the Archdeacon of Blackburn, writes about plans for the year here ...

A time to focus on making disciples

When Rowan Williams was asked about having a Decade of Evangelism in the 1990s, he described the idea as ‘a necessary idiocy’, like announcing ‘a decade of breathing’.

In other words, evangelism isn’t something you can just do for a decade and then forget about; rather, it should be as much a part of the life of a Christian as breathing.

Yet the Decade of Evangelism was necessary and important in helping the Church regain its essential missionary focus.

Much the same could be said about the idea of ‘A Focus on Discipleship’ which is being planned for the diocese starting in 2019. Forming individuals as disciples for Jesus Christ is surely the primary calling of every local church, and so discipleship ought to be at the top of our agenda not just for a year but every year.

However, forming disciples is not something we are very good at. Traditional habits of personal Bible study and prayer get squeezed out in our busy lives.

Fewer people belong to small groups. When we think about lay training too often we are equipping people to take on roles in church, rather than empowering them to live distinctively Christian lives from Monday to Saturday in their place of work, recreation or family responsibilities.

And when churches are short of money this is often not a financial problem but rather a sign of a deeper problem of discipleship.

As we prepare for a ‘Year of Discipleship’, look out for a number of resources designed to help members of your church to grow as disciples of Christ and discover their particular calling from God. These will include:

  • Bishop Julian’s Bible Challenge – a creative new approach to encouraging children and adults to read the Bible regularly
  • A new DVD course which will be released this autumn designed to help small groups think about money and giving, in the context of the generosity, gift and grace of God
  • A new programme of retreats and quiet days at Whalley Abbey in 2019, designed to help individuals and groups take time with God in this ‘blessed place’ at the heart of the diocese
  • Pathways to Prayer – a series of taster days across the diocese led by a new team of workshop leaders available to come and teach different ways of prayer in parishes and deaneries.

I invite you to join with me in praying that over the coming year each of us will grow deeper in our relationship with Christ and discover afresh how we can make a difference for God in our daily lives.

Archdeacon Mark Ireland


Ronnie Semley

October 2018