Do churches need Sunday schools for adults?

The Bishop of Chelmsford has suggested churches should start Sunday schools for adults to improve discipleship.

Bishop Stephen Cottrell has called for schools of discipleship for adultsWiki

Churches should be "schools for discipleship", Bishop Stephen Cottrell said during a plenary discussion on discipleship at the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.

He noted the stark contrast between the "expectation" of what means to go to church in the Anglican Church of Kenya, and the Church in the UK.

"It amazes me that in England we go to all this effort to get people to church and then we let them go after an hour," he said, adding that churches try to "persuade them to come back later the same day".

"Why don't we renegotiate the Sunday contract? What if we did Sunday differently like Kenya? That might be [the] best way of discipling people of God in the world."

Cottrell's remarks were made during a meeting about a draft resolution calling for a period of intentional discipleship throughout the Anglican Communion, which is scheduled to come before the Council on Monday.

His suggestion was met with mixed reactions.

Professor Joanildo Burity from the Episocopal Anglican Church of Brazil highlighted that discipleship cannot be found solely within the Church.

Discipleship is also living as a Christian "in the workplace [and] in their everyday life [as a] witness to Christ to express how deeply they are following Jesus", he said.

The Archdeacon of Suva Ovalau in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Sepiuta Hala'api'api, highlighted the importance of mentoring young people. Rather than having Christian role models, young people are being mentored by celebrities, he warned.

"Young people don't need any more events, they need someone to walk alongside them [like] Jesus did with his disciples," he said.

The Bishop of Edmonton in the Anglican Church of Canada, the Rt Rev Jane Alexander, said a focus on discipleship was "life-giving", and called for a nine-year period of discipleship.

"If we have a nine-year period and fail, never mind; but if we name it then we can have something to work towards," she said.

The ACC have met to discuss and put in place its mission and priorities for the next three years and beyond, under the theme "intentional discipleship in a world of differences".