(Mark Greene and Tracy Cotterell, London Institute for Contemporary Christianity)
The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) is passionate about whole life discipleship. LICC has a mission to help Christians apply their faith to every aspect of their lives; from prayer to football, from studying the scriptures to shopping, from work to worship
LICC has developed the Imagine Project which aims to help churches recover the centrality of disciple-making. The work of LICC in general, and the Imagine Project in particular, are extremely valuable resources for all mission shaped churches and especially for fresh expressions seeking to build whole life discipleship communities.
What is the LICC?
The LICC was founded in 1982 by John Stott to help Christians live out the Word in the world. Its role is to envision and equip Christians to engage Biblically, relevantly and vigorously with the issues they face and to act as a resource to the church for that mission and a frontline participant in the mission through media engagement. LICC is led by Executive Director Mark Greene.
What is the Imagine Project?
The Imagine Project was established to help Christians live an 'ordinary life in a robustly Christian way in today's new world'. At heart Imagine is a missionary initiative which recognises that the only way to reach the UK with the gospel is by making whole life disciples who can relate their faith to every aspect of their lives and share that faith with the people amongst whom they live, work and have their being.
Imagine is led by Project Director Tracy Cotterell. There are two key publications that explain the Imagine vision and approach. They are Let My People Grow and Imagine: how we can reach the UK.
What are some of the key messages of Imagine?
The key issue is not the form that a church takes but whether the goal of the community is to make disciples.
Let My People Grow
Imagine, repeatedly and helpfully, stresses the need for whole-life discipleship. The underlying theology behind this is that our Creator Lord is interested in every aspect of our lives and wants us to enjoy and share abundant life. This life involves the full expression of who we are through art, music, food, celebration and sport as well as worship, prayer and the study of the scriptures. Whole life discipleship is presented as
- a scriptural imperative;
- a pastoral imperative;
- a mission imperative.
Whole life discipleship breaks down the sacred/secular divide by encouraging and equipping Christians to engage with the personal, social, economic, political and cultural issues that impact upon day to day life in God's world.
We need to be more Christian in the world and more human in the church.
Imagine: how we can reach the UK
Imagine highlights the need for mentoring or apprenticing in discipleship – for all Christians, not just leaders or ministers. It encourages the development of honest and real fellowship where disciples can share their struggles, temptations and failures as well as their joys and triumphs. The project also emphasises the need for natural witnesses.
The great lack in the contemporary Christian community is not for a new generation of platform evangelists but for a community of people who can talk about Jesus over a cup of coffee.
What do the LICC and Imagine provide to help with discipleship development?
- a clear and cogent vision for whole life discipleship.
- a set of values. Let My People Grow argues that a church must sort out its values before its programmes.
- the two key publications Let My People Grow and Imagine.
- training events.
- the review magazine 'eg'.
- stories, research and resources.
Imagine is not a course and there is nothing to suggest that LICC intends to produce another discipleship course. Like Share, LICC does provide reviews of discipleship courses and resources.
Imagine will not provide all the answers to every question regarding discipleship in a fresh expression, but it does provide many of the right challenges and a lot of inspiration.
There is a sense that Imagine is a work in progress, but it is an exciting work with a real sense of adventure. Given that growing in discipleship is a lifelong process of discovery, the sense that there is more to come is exciting.
Would it work in a fresh expression context?
Absolutely! Both Let My People Grow and the LICC website provide case studies of churches that have been helped by the LICC/Imagine approach to discipleship.
Imagine is a superb initiative. For those seriously reflecting on discipleship, an hour or two spent browsing the LICC website or reading Let My People Grow and Imagine will be time well spent. For fresh expressions practitioners, it will be especially beneficial because of the common concern to connect with those for whom church is often completely detached from the culture they inhabit.
The LICC's commitment to whole life discipleship is to be particularly welcomed.
If we can't testify to a Lord who can help us address the issues in our daily lives, then what gospel do we have to offer others?
How to obtain the material
The Imagine pages can be found at on the LICC website and include a page of resources.
Mark Green, Tracy Cotterell, Let My People Grow: Reflections on Making Disciples Who Make a Difference in Today's World, Authentic, 2006, 978-185078671-9.
Mark Green, Imagine: How We Can Reach the UK, Authentic, 2003, 978-185078544-6.