Discipleship and Conviction in the Fake News Era
From 6-8 July 2018, 120 people gathered for the 15th annual School of Discipleship conference at Naamaroo Conference Centre in Chatswood. The first School of Discipleship was held in 2004 in Canberra with a focus on engaging university students. While the event continues to hold its foundations in tertiary ministry, it has grown and evolved over the years into a spiritual home for many.
School of Discipleship is held across three days, and invites participants into a radical discipleship community. Robust theological education, meaningful worship, and the simple act of eating and sharing together are hallmarks the conference.
Dr. Sureka Goringe (National Director of UnitingWorld) had this to say about SOD community.
It would be great for School of Discipleship to go on for another 15 years, because we think it’s really important for people to get to know each other and form that community where they can really encourage each other to have a deeply transformative faith; to be deadly serious about discipleship, and the radical change to your life it demands.
This year’s keynote speaker was Rev. Dr Geoff Thompson from Pilgrim Theological College. Rev. Dr Thompson spoke on the theme “Good News and Fake News: Discipleship and Conviction in a Post-Truth Age”. The keynote sessions focused on Mark 8:27-37, with Rev. Dr Thompson inviting the community to consider the questions 1) What do people say you believe? 2) What do you believe? and 3) What are your beliefs for? The community was challenged to consider the nature of truth, the role and place of convictions, and humility as a necessary component of Christian witness and imagination.
Participants were also able to engage with a wide range of electives: a forum about sex and relationships, facilitated discussions on topics like just war theory, vocation, and the problem of ‘worshiptainment’ and the gospel of prosperity, some energetic gospel singing and an introduction to radical discipleship.
Rev. Al Macrae (former president of UCA Assembly)
Over the years my own faith and discipleship was deepened, stretched and encouraged not only by the input from teachers and mentors but by everyone who formed that particular Christian community. I hope and pray that you find inspiration in this years teaching, community with one another and deeper love and companionship with Jesus Christ, our Lord who calls us his friends.
School of Discipleship 2018 also included powerful times of worship, opportunities to meet in small groups and the annual Songfest; a vibrant sharing of music, poetry, dance, and skits. It also served as a celebration of 15 years – where a video of many past School of Discipleship keynote speakers and participants giving messages of hope and joy were shared. It was also an opportunity to recognise Rev. Phil Newton as the only person to attend all 15 conferences.
In reflecting on the future of School of Discipleship, Rev. Dr. John Hirt, writes:
What does the future hold? Biblically, there are two descriptors for Jesus’ people: ‘Disciple’ and ‘Pilgrim.’ Because we are called in grace to be both, we need to continue to discover and recover faithful ways of being Christ-followers. Yep, we need to keep going, keep attending, keep supporting and keep inviting others to share in the experience and the joy. Beyond the quick fix and cozy faith, we need to heed the words of Nietzsche, and be about ‘a long obedience in the same direction.’
School of Discipleship organisers are now looking at dates, a theme, and a keynote speaker for the 2019 event.
For more information, visit the School of Discipleship website