Joining the dots between Sunday and Monday

How BRF's Holy Habits discipleship resources are helping congregations connect church life with life in the community.

What happened when 20 churches adopted Holy Habits

'They told me Holy Habits has really made them think about the connectedness between their life within church and their life in the community, and how they’re taking those habits out into their daily lives. Several people said it’s re-energised their prayer life and their Bible reading, which I think is fantastic because that’s so vital.'

For the past twelve months, Superintendent Minister Kate Cook has led the Methodist Telford Circuit on a Holy Habits discipleship journey.

Kate (right) says that having met early in 2018 with Holy Habits founder Andrew Roberts and reviewed the new BRF resources, 'the team very quickly decided that we wanted to do this, right across the Circuit, involving all 20 churches.'

What especially appealed was the way this approach embraces all of church life. 'We liked the wide range of Bible passages, the suggested music and the prayers, the ideas for sermon preparation, for Bible study groups and for Messy Church. It touched all the things that we do. We liked how comprehensive and practical the booklets were: there were so many ideas we could run with or tweak to use in our own context.'

Kate Cook
'There were so many ideas we could run with or tweak to use in our own context.'

Unleashing the creativity of the local church

It was important for each church to adapt the resources for their particular situations: Telford Circuit covers a large, diamond-shaped patch between the Welsh borders and Birmingham. The southern end is Shropshire market towns and the north is more urban and more ethnically diverse. Some of the churches are small and rural, others much larger, with urban congregations.

Kate explained the creative ways some of the different churches went about this. 'One of the larger churches decided to have a monthly film night and choose a film that was mentioned in the booklet, watch extracts together and have a discussion. In one of my own churches, I run a Bible study group, and we used the Holy Habits resources in quite an interactive way. We also used them in Messy Church and in Café Worship.

'Another church runs a mums’ and toddlers’ group three times a week. They began to see that the work they do there is not just befriending these young mums; it’s deeper than that. It’s about welcome and hospitality and generosity. So they’ve set up a prayer box that mums can pop their prayer needs into and know they will be prayed for.'

At a café church service held to review the Circuit’s work with Holy Habits, Kate asked people which habits they wanted to develop as individuals and as a church. 'From that has come the idea of organising Sunday lunches for people who live on their own who might otherwise go home and eat alone.'

 

Telford Holy Habits peace dove

Giving over two years to the Holy Habits course allows churches to find out what works well for them. 'We could have done more if we’d been smarter,' acknowledges Kate. 'That’s all part of the learning curve.'

'People have responded very well,' she adds. 'They enjoyed the variety of it, and they felt that as the first year went on they began to see the links between the habits more closely. They’re cumulative.'

A year well spent!

Wet weather didn’t put the Telford Circuit off celebrating the end of their first 'Holy Habits year' – a planned celebration in the park was moved to one of the churches. The gathering began with worship before breaking out into ten activity groups, each reflecting on one of the habits, then coming together for a talk by Andrew Roberts, and closing worship and prayer.

'It’s been a very positive thing for the whole circuit,' says Kate, 'because of the real sense that we were all doing this together. It’s not been rocket science, and that’s what I like about Holy Habits. It’s very accessible and starts where people are at. You’re not asking them to address difficult things, just the basics. It reminds us of what it means to be a disciple.'

Telford Holy Habits celebration cake
'It reminds us of what it means to be a disciple.'