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Leadership | Discipleship | Whole-life

Tracy Cotterell

location, location,

‘Where do most of the people in your church spend Albert has a vision to make a difference
in his place of work. Quietly spoken,
most of their time in an ordinary week?’ asks Tracy
with a sense of humour, a diplomat and
Cotterell. Most, she says, will be out ‘on the frontline’. a good listener, he deploys his gifts by
How, then, to nurture and encourage them? actively engaging with the relational
tensions of his workplace. Along the
way he hopes to drive lots of people

safely from A to B, enable as many as
n 2009 the London Institute for passionate about serving people,
possible to experience grace through his
Contemporary Christianity contacted extending those courtesies that make life
attention to their needs, and to speak
3000 Christians who had been to easier – waiting for the person who’s still
about Jesus, the one after whom he’s
Spring Harvest. We asked: ‘Where do you running to the stop; exercising patience
chosen to pattern his own life, the one
find it most challenging to be a disciple with those who’ve lost theirs. He’s also
whom he seeks to know more deeply as
of Christ?’ The response was: work, bothered about the other drivers in the
he lives life with God on the ‘frontline’.
home, the neighbourhood. depot. When I met him he was about to
return to work following a short strike Home, work, neighbourhood are where
Where we are really matters to God.
during which only five drivers had crossed most Christians cross paths with non-
A little while back I met a man called
the picket line. ‘My job tomorrow,’ he believers. They’re the places of ‘frontline’
Albert. Albert drives buses. He’s
said, ‘is to be a peacemaker.’ engagement with ‘the world’.

6 CL73 ©TRACY COTTERELL, Photo: © Konstantin Sutyagin – Fotolia.com

Tracy Cotterell is chief operating officer at the
London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.
Prior to that she was director of LICC’s Imagine
Project which seeks to serve churches and leaders
in developing whole-life disciple-making churches.

Whole-life Something changed in the church group the Alpha course? The mission partner in
The capacity of the church to nurture whole- that heard this story. Something changed Uganda?
life disciples is key to evangelism in the UK. in the minister who heard it. Up till that
All of these are heroes. But there are
Increasing numbers of leaders certainly seem point he had thought he’d been preaching
more. There’s Albert the bus driver; there’s
to think so. Bishop Graham Cray, leader of to a congregation most of whom were
our lunch-providing grandmother – and
the Fresh Expressions team, says: ‘Churches over the age of 60. Suddenly he discovered
thousands besides. Have you heard their
have to realise that the core of their calling is that at least one of his congregation
stories? Do you know the issues they face?
to be disciple-making communities, whatever was passing on his sermon to a twenty-
Are their stories shaping the whole life of
else they do.’ It’s a biblical mandate, a something woman. He began to think
your church – the preaching, the praying,
pastoral need and a mission imperative. about what might be most relevant to her.
the worship, the conversations, the ministry
The others in the group had never heard
Church attendance is indeed in decline of the people of God to one another?
this lady talk about her grandchildren.
overall. Yet 3.2 million (the 6.3% of the adult
So no one prayed for them, nor for the Sometimes all it takes is a one-degree
population who attend church once a month
ministry that the grandmother had in the shift to start changing a culture: the
or more) is still an awful lot of people.
family. The group stopped, prayed and
What might happen if we took seriously re-commissioned the lady back to her
the challenge of envisioning, equipping, family. Home, work, neighbourhood
encouraging, commissioning and celebrating
A few months later, at the next are where most Christians
the people of God for the places where
they spend most of their time as disciples of
group meeting, she reported: ‘Well cross paths with non-believers.
I don’t know what’s happening, They’re the places of ‘frontline’
but my granddaughter’s asking
10:110 questions about faith and church. engagement with ‘the world’.
Unless we’re paid by the church, or in I’m on a bit of a roll. I know what
a certain season in life, 10 hours is the I’m supposed to be doing now.’
maximum most people have available per
Challenge mirror on the mission board that reminds
week for ‘gathered’ church life: Sunday
A church leadership team that sets its face the whole church of their calling; the
worship, small groups, meetings, youth
to the challenge of nurturing whole-life minister’s musing as he or she prepares the
work and so on. The remaining 110 hours
disciples must engage with the dynamic sermon... where will this body be ‘this time
of their waking week they’re dispersed ‘on
relationship between the gathered and tomorrow’ – 11am on Monday morning?
the frontline’, maybe at home, in college,
dispersed community, the relationship Or the church praying for the woman who
at work, or in the gym – and so on. Who
between the ’10’ and the ‘110’. This goes back to paid employment after 20
knows? Who prays? Who challenges? Who
should profoundly reframe our approaches years, who struggles with the transition and
offers wisdom and biblical perspectives for
to disciple-making. with the culture of her male-dominated
the issues they face? Who believes that they
workplace; who is encouraged by her
can make a difference because God is at Great discipleship courses, programmes
church to believe that God wants to use
work in them, with them, through them? and so on are crucially important.
her in that place; which provokes her to
However, the contemporary challenge to
Kitchen connection pray for wisdom; and leads to significant
leadership is how to develop a church
One older woman struggled to believe she conversations with a young man at work
‘culture’ that is effective in nurturing
had a ‘frontline’ that mattered to anyone. who, noticing her care for colleagues and
‘whole-life’ disciples for the sake of the
As far as she was concerned, her 110 hours her response to their behaviour, asks, are
were largely spent cleaning the house, you a Christian, and who eventually finds
going to the shops and looking after her You can tell a culture by its heroes and by his way into church and to faith in Christ.
grandchildren. It turned out, however, the stories it tells. So who are the church’s
You can tell a church by its heroes and by
that ‘looking after grandchildren’ included heroes today? Billy Graham, J John, Jackie
the stories it tells. You can tell a church
providing Sunday lunch for her eldest Pullinger, Matt Redman, Rob Bell, Adam
that’s committed to nurturing whole-life
grandchild; a 22-year-old who was actually Smallbone of Rev? Mainly white, mainly
disciples by the stories it tells about how a
interested in her grandmother’s account of male, mainly preachers, teachers and
glorious relationship with the crucified and
what had happened at church that morning. missionaries, mainly church-paid.
risen Christ is transforming their everyday
She paid attention when her grandmother
Think about your church. Who are the places into extraordinary opportunities to
rehearsed the morning’s sermon.
heroes? The pastor? The people who lead live and share a ‘whole-life’ gospel.

Podcasts Hear Tracy’s trenchant views on whole-life Imagine More about LICC’s Imagine Project and the
discipleship via our leadership podcasts. resources available for church leaders can be found at
Whole Life, whole Bible Check www.licc.org.uk for a link
to this 50-week series.