Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making, which has been edited by John Kafwanka and Mark Oxbrow, is a new report which has been published by the Anglican Consultative Council and is intended to be a major resource document for both the Council itself and the wider Anglican Communion.
the report also has a number of major weaknesses.
First, it fails to explore the theological framework within which discipleship takes place. From a biblical perspective discipleship has to be understood within a framework of election, faith, baptism, sanctification and glorification and the report fails to even note, let alone consider, this framework.
Secondly, it fails to give any overall account of how the basic elements of what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ fit together. It gives us lots of different bits of the picture, but it never pulls these together into a coherent whole.
Thirdly, it lacks any critical analysis of the material it considers. We are given lots of brief snapshots of different aspects of what churches have done and are doing in the area of encouraging discipleship and discipleship making, but there is no consideration in the report of the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches that are surveyed and there is no reflection on what we can learn from them.
Fourthly, all this means that all the report really gives us is an exhortation to take discipleship and the making of disciples more seriously. What it does not provide is any additional resources to help with this task.
If the Anglican Communion is to make discipleship and the making of disciples central to its life, a better way forward than this report would be the development of Communion wide resources in this area using the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer as a basis. This catechism is short, biblically based and contains all the basic element of Christian discipleship within a clear overall theological framework in which the Christian life is viewed as a response to the prevenient grace of God which is made possible by the assistance of God asked for in prayer. Using the catechism as a basis would provide a clear agreed base line for the development of Christian discipleship that could then be applied in specific local contexts
One final point to note in relation to Intentional Discipleship and Disciple Making is that a concern for a fresh emphasis on Christian discipleship cannot be separated from the current debate within the Anglican Communion about human sexuality. The Communion cannot decide to agree to disagree about sexuality and focus on discipleship instead. This is because in the Bible, and in the orthodox Christian tradition building on the Bible, right sexual practice, consisting of sexual abstinence outside heterosexual marriage and sexual faithfulness within it, has always been seen as an integral part of what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. This being the case the acceptance and advocacy of alternative patterns of sexual conduct in parts of the Anglican Communion has to be seen as inimical to Christian discipleship and rejected as such. To be serious about discipleship means being serious about sexual holiness and rejecting all forms of behaviour incompatible with it.