On Saturday we began our innovative training programme for Missioners (those who wish to work as part of the team developing the Inspire Network). The training comprises of two weekend 'intensive' sessions of input, between which participants follow the course material in an interactive online programme. Part of the online interaction happens within 'Virtual Bands', groups set up online to share the learning of the course together. The combination of personal study and reflection, online interaction and face-to-face sessions make this training very exciting!
Since the training day one participant has been in touch to say, "A belated note to say a big thank you for Saturday's Missioner training, which was great - really helpful and insightful. I'm VERY excited about this. I feel like I can finally see how mission really works, and what it really is. Fantastic!!".
Keep an eye on our 'news and events' page for details of other training that Inspire is developing for mission-shaped disciples.
We are delighted that Lorna Koskela will be joning the Inspire team for this coming academic year.
Lorna writes that, "I am very excited about joining the Inspire team on a more formal basis as a Missioner. I will be taking a lead on Inspire's work with students, and contributing to developing missioners and online training in the coming year".
Whilst working with Inspire, Lorna will be based in Chesterfield, and will continue her doctoral studies on The Dynamics of Group Spiritual Direction in Christian Tranformation at Cliff College.
Lorna has been living in Finland for the past 25+ years, and she and her husband will celebrate their silver wedding next May. They have two grown up children, one living and studying in Finland, the other in Italy, and so they are a very international family!
Lorna's hopes for the coming year are that "more and more of the lives of ordinary Christians will be transformed by our amazing and extra-ordinary God. I see Inspire as a wonderful tool that has enormous potential in this journey with Him."
Lorna would love to hear from you - and is especially keen to make contact with students who may like to find our more about forming a fellowship band whilst at College / Uni.
Phil Meadows will be teaching two courses on Wesleyan Spirituality at Cliff College in 2012-13. These courses are part of the MA programme at Cliff, but open for anyone to participate as opportunities for further learning and personal renewal.
Wesleyan Theology and Spirituality, 22-26 October, 2012.
This course covers the following major themes:
- The roots of the early Methodist movement
- Spirituality, holiness, and the way of salvation
- Wesleyan approaches to mission and evangelism
- Small group fellowship and discipleship
- Hymnody, worship, and spiritual disciplines
Wesleyan Approaches to the Spiritual Life, 22-26 April, 2013
This course covers the following major themes:
- Spiritual streams influencing Wesleyan theology
- The holy life as a spiritual journey
- Mutual accountability and spiritual direction
- Christian experience and spiritual formation
- Wesleyan insights on suffering and depression
- Christian parenting and nurturing children
- Holiness, mission, science and medicine
Both these courses makes use of primary sources from John Wesley's writings and Charles Wesley's hymns, and some of the spiritual classics that influenced them.
Further information about the courses, along with details about the small course fee and cost of accommodation, are available by e-mail from the College registrar, Allison Cooper (email@example.com).
Thornbury Baptist Church, near Bristol, are working with Inspire to integrate fellowship bands into their overall pattern of small group discipleship.
Inspire team on the road
March was a busy month for members of the Inspire team.
At the beginning of the month Inspire missioners, Lorna Koskela and Andrea Rogers led a retreat day for students from Cliff College and Sheffield University. The feedback was very positive and we hope to continue to develop our work with colleges, and universities over the coming year.
Later in the month, David Lawrence led four sessions for delegates at the Methodist Church's 'Connecting Disciples Conference'. One delegate wrote afterwards to say that, this was “unexpectedly excellent! I was not sure what to expect but loved it – very thought and prayer provoking. As a result of this stream of workshops I have formed a prayer partnership and look forward to forming a band – excellent!"
David also visited the Incarnate Network houseparty to talk about Inspire. This ecumenical network of church planters were an inspiring group to meet and showed great interest in Inspire's approach to making mission-shaped disciples.
Meanwhile, Inspire Director Phil Meadows has also been traveling, taking a session on mission-shaped discipleship for the pioneer ministry course at Ridley Hall in Cambridge, and lecturing at Asbury Collegei n America, where we have just heard a new fellowship band has formed!
The team have a number of dates in the diary for the coming months, but if you would like to talk to us about visiting your church or area to talk about Inspire then please do get in touch via the contact form found on the ABOUT US page of this website.
Full details of our three weekend retreats this Spring are now available for download.
The themes are:
'Hearing God' (30 March - 1 April)... How do I hear God? How do I help others to hear God?
'Longing for God' (20 - 22 April)... Leading from our longings... Creating a hunger for discipleship...
'Wesleyan DNA of Discipleship' (1 - 4 June)
Throughout 2011 the Inspire Network has continued to grow in numbers, geographical reach and spheres of involvement.
There are now nearly 500 (496 to be exact!) people registered with the network as either an 'enquirer', 'explorer' or 'wayfarer'. There are fellowship bands meeting from the North of Scotland to Cornwall, from South Wales to East Anglia, and from Northern Ireland to the southern USA!
Inspire staff have travelled many miles throughout the year, visiting churches, Methodist circuits, Christian festivals, conferences and events to speak about Inspire's contribution to the development of a mission-shaped discipleship. We have also run our own 'Gathering' events across the country in the Spring, and a national Gathering held in Derby in July.
Contact with colleges has continued to develop with involvement at Moorlands College (Dorset), Queens College (Birmingham), Sheffield University Chaplaincy, Edgehill College (Belfast), and Cliff College (Debyshire). One of our newest bands is being established among a group of students at the Wesley Study Centre in Durham.
During 2011 Inspire's major partnership with the Methodist Church was reviewed, and we are delighted that our partnership has been extended until 2014.
We have been encouraged that in the latter part of the year, seeds that were sown in the early part of the year began to sprout! It appears that typically it takes about 6-9 months to move from first hearing about Inspire to actually acting on it, as people need to reflect on the commitments and challenges involved in accountable mission-shaped discipleship.
Thank you for your part in this growing network. If you would like to explore inviting Inspire to your church,circuit, area or event please contact us via the 'Connect' page.
Inspire's National Gathering, held in July, received positive feedback from those who gathered in Derby for the event. The day's theme was 'Transforming Encounters - mission as a way of life' and the various elements of the programme enabled those present to reflect on how mission derives from God's transforming encounter with us, and then is outworked in our transforming encounters with those we meet every day.
Inspire's Director, Phil Meadows, gave the keynote address and also led a seminar on the ways in which spiritual disciplines become the wellspring of missional life. We also ran a seminar introducing Inspire for those attending for the first time and another exploring the connection between being in a small accountability group and fulfilling one's missional potential.
Alongside the programme for adults there was an Inspire4Kids programme, in which primary aged children were helped to explore Inspire's 'way of life' through an age-appropriate range of activities. By all accounts - they had a great time!
One feature of this year's conference was the time allowed for delegates to meet in small groups for reflection, discussion and prayer. The aim was to give a 'mini-taster' of what being in an Inspire fellowship band might be like. Feedback suggests that some of these groups worked better than others, but for some they were "very useful", "very helpful indeed' and one person shared that they had found it "great to share in small groups".
The day began and ended with worship and many delegates expressed their appreciation of the way in which the worship set the context for the day. The following comment was typical: "the conference was brilliant- that opening worship was amazing and the whole day did me a power of good!"
We are thrilled that since the Gathering we have heard of four new fellowship bands coming into existence - and others in the process of being formed. If you missed the Gathering do keep an eye on the events page on this website, as we may well be coming to a place near you over the coming year and it would be great to see you there!
Make sure you keep an eye on our growing collection of videos, which can be found under the Resources tab, and by clicking on the 'Videos' button in the sidebar. You can also reach them all at:
We have just published a new resource for Inspire wayfarers.
'Responding to God's Lead' will help to inspire your imagination and openness to the kinds of ways that God may be calling you to grow in your daily discipleship.
This guide is the first of our resources for the 'respond' phase in the rhythm of discipleship, and is based around the four dimensions of the Inspire way of life: seeking growth, using disciplines, sharing fellowship and engaging mission.
If you are a wayfarer, you can follow up here:
The Inspire Network is led by a group of volunteers – called the Steering Group – who are responsible for keeping the vision and seeking God’s direction for the movement. The group has three work teams: planning, finance and prayer.
The Prayer Team thought it would be helpful to share withthe wider Network something about our role within Inspire and some of the things that God is doing within the team at the moment.
The team has three main roles: (1) developing strategies for intercession so that the work of Inspire can impact and transform people’s lives; (2) being vigilant in spiritual warfare because when God is in the process of touching lives, we will face opposition; and (3) seeking and developing a prophetic edge.
We were privileged recently to experience a training day on prophecy with Jenny Campbell from Eaglesinflight ministries. It was a day of great blessing, a day where God spoke to us through the Holy Spirit and renewed us as individuals and as a team.
One of the things Jenny spoke about was how we all need to develop intimacy with God so that we can hear him speak and recognise his heartbeat. Having a prophetic voice involves walking close to Jesus and learning to lift our eyes so that we begin to see things through his eyes. Sometimes in life we experience moments of sudden clarity when we see something in a new way and there is a shift in our view as God brings revelation to us. The challenge is to live out those things that the Spirit reveals to us so that we are people who hear God speak and then obey by walking it out in our lives:
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)
For us as a Prayer Team we know that God is calling us to be the eyes of the body; to nurture the gifts of the Spirit and use them wisely to seek God for the work of Inspire so that we can discern what he is saying and where he is leading us. It is exciting but humbling to be able to serve in this way and as we come together to pray, we want to be open to what God says and to work together in unity.
Jenny drew our attention to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and it is still as important for us today because our desire is the same; to know Jesus better and to become more like him. The Spirit helps us to see him more clearly by illuminating God’s truths in our hearts:
“ I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:17-19)
Please pray for us as we build a strong team that we will always keep our focus on Jesus, to hear his voice clearly, and feed our discernment to the Steering Group for the blessing of Inspire as a whole. We hope in the future to open this ministry wider in the Network, so that our movement as a whole may live out its prophetic calling more fully.
Catherine Hill, Coordinator, Steering Group Prayer Team
Invitation to be part of something exciting!
I would like to invite you to make your unique mark on the excellent Inspire Network website and to become an active part of the Inspire online community. As participants or explorers of Fellowship Bands* you will already be discovering the benefits and joys of walking the journey of discipleship together and being accountable to others in mission spirituality. The online community brings another important dimension to this because it reminds us that we are part of something much bigger; a vision that is constantly growing and moving forwards.
When you register and log in to the site you will see an 'Engage' tab at the top of the page, and in here you will find our Prayer Forums. These are for all who are connected to Inspire at whatever level and they are places where we can build community with each other by sharing prayer concerns, praying for others, offering wisdom and celebrating when God answers our prayers.
It can make such a difference to our lives to know that others are alongside us in prayer helping to carry the burdens and seeking God with us. The prayers of another person can speak to us in ways we weren’t expecting and can be incredibly powerful reminders that we have a God who is greater and stronger than anything we are facing.
Be part of something exciting!
*(If you have not yet registered with the Inspire Network, that is also done through the 'Engage' page)
Catherine (Inspire Prayer Team)
LOCAL CHURCH FORMS INSPIRE LEADERSHIP BANDS
We are thrilled that the most recent fellowship bands to register with the Inspire Network, are all part of the same local church leadership team!
Church leadership teams (and ministers themselves!) often find that so much of their time is spent on the tasks that they need fulfil, that they have little time to attend to their own continuing spiritual growth as disciples of Jesus. The Minister and elders at Zion United Church (Methodist/URC) in Frampton Cotterell, near Bristol, decided to guard aginst this by attending to their own spiritual growth - and not just to the church's. Stephen Newell, the minster at Zion, explains:
"We took the decision as a church leadership several years ago that the real issue was discipleship and to make sure we ourselves were growing. If our own walk with Jesus faltered, we would be in no position to lead others on that path.
That was a nice idea, but how realistically were we to make that happen? The answer as it’s developing is of course Inspire. The eldership has broken down into three bands with of course one common purpose, that we really help each other grow as followers of Jesus. It’s early days of course but every journey needs a first step!"
The team at Zion United Church were supported in this process by Inspire team member, David Lawrence. If you'd like to explore establishing fellowship bands within your church leadership group, contact the Inspire team via the Connect page of this website.
Regional Gatherings - making connections
The first three of our Regional Gatherings were held at Chesterfield, Manchester and Ivybridge in Devon. Each event drew people from across a wide area, and those that gathered represented a cross-section of church life. The response to the events has been universally positive: here are some of the comments that people have made:
"I enjoyed the morning. I think the idea of using bands has the vision of God within it and I want to go away and get this going in my church"
"This feels to me like a God-given way of re-energising the Church to be what God wants it to be"
"I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout the whole morning!"
"Well thought out - an inspiring morning!"
The Gatherings have generated a lot of enthusiasm to work out how Inspire could make a difference to the development of mission-shaped disciples in traditional churches and in more contemporary expressions of church. Please pray for us as we try to keep up with what God is doing!
It's not too late to join us at a Regional Gathering - or to make a date to come to the National Gathering in July. See events page for details of these events.