Happy Jesus Shaped People? Bible study group more than double the size before JSP (many ‘camera shy’—so not on our photo!). But don't assume that everything is hunky dory. We are a Yorkshire village church, so no leaping around with excitement at the thought of yet another discipleship course! If we as a church were a disciple, we might be Thomas, stood with hands on hips questioning not, 'I won't believe it till I see the wounds' but certainly, 'What do we need to this for? Have we been doing it wrong all these years?'
A great time was had by all who attended the Jesus Shaped People taster session on Saturday 9th February, at St. George's Church, Lupset in Wakefield where Gordon Dey led a stimulating and encouraging presentation of the JSP whole-church discipleship programme. Revd Martine Crabtree opened the morning by leading us in Morning Prayer. Gordon then introduced JSP and shared some encouraging stories from his time in ministry and the journey that has led him to develop the JSP programme.
JSP is developing in a way that encourages churches to support one another in their adoption of JSP. Such a process requires that our ‘Central Core Team’ is small and flexible as it responds to fresh opportunities and challenges.
JSP identifies ‘Five Priorities’ that sum up the ministry of Jesus, and these are explored by churches that adopt JSP. Afterwards many churches find the need to focus more intentionally on one of these, so resources to enable this are steadily growing. In addition to ‘Puzzles of the Kingdom’ that unlocks the parabolic nature of Jesus’ teaching ministry, ‘Team Building’ has recently been developed to help church members discover and use their God given gifts, and to do so as part of the Body of Christ.
JSP became a Charitable Trust (‘C.I.O.’) in January 2017 An initial group of eleven Trustees have met regularly in the past two years to guide the future course of JSP. The Trustees seek to be ‘Jesus-Shaped’ in their leadership, and so have adopted Values, Principles, and Commitments that reflect this, such as:
Preparations are going ahead for ‘Moving On’, JSP’s first National Conference in March 2019. Church JSP leaders from across the country will gather at The Briery in Ilkley, West Yorks, to share their experience of how JSP is facilitating a re-shaping of their churches, and is bringing fresh confidence and renewed vision to congregations.
JSP recently appointed its first National Children and Young People’s Advisor. Dawn Savidge began work in this vital part-time post in September 2018, having already spent a year working for JSP in the Diocese of Leeds. Dawn’s work includes oversight and development of JSP resources for children and young people, and ensuring that churches that adopt JSP across the UK find good support for their work with children. Dawn recently presented her vision for this work to the JSP Trustees, reminding them of Jesus’s priority for including and protecting children.
JSP’s special contribution and message to the church today is very simple—and yet seriously challenging: ‘Let’s get more Jesus-Shaped’. If the church in the UK is to survive, especially in the most disadvantaged areas of our land, there is need for a radical re-shaping of its life in a way that is inspired and informed by the three year ministry of Jesus. Gordon Dey, JSP Team Leader comments, 'JSP offers fresh vision for churches to move out of their cul de sac and rediscover the Way of the Kingdom of God that Jesus taught and modelled.
Jesus Shaped People is growing steadily across the UK, and particularly in churches that serve urban estate communities and other areas of social disadvantage. Originating in Bradford, West Yorkshire, it is now making a significant contribution to churches in the Anglican dioceses of Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Blackburn, Chester, Rochester, Peterborough and Southwark, and is currently emerging in the dioceses of St. Albans, Lichfield, and Norwich. There is also interest appearing in London, Wales and Scotland. JSP is also being explored by other Christian denominations.
JSP's plan to provide extended materials that enable churches to focus in on each of the 'Five Priorities' has take a step forward recently with the creation of a 10 week programme on 'Team Building'. St Wilfrid's Church Calverley has been trialling this for us, and we're glad to publish their experience of this below. A final version of the material is being drafted, and will become available on the website in due course. Work is also proceeding with a similar 'extension' to Priority One - 'People'.