I’ve just sat and read through “A Hopeful Future: Vision, Narrative, and Biblical hope, for Renewal & Reform” even as a newbie and almost an onlooker to the CofE I am wholly interested in the Renewal and Reform agenda. I have recently started working there and it is a very different culture to get my head around, I’ve challenged myself does the R+R work intrigue me or seem so good to me because it is a direction of travel that I am akin to or used to and I genuinely don’t think it is. It is striking me as lots of different things, I think obvious and common sense are some words that I use hesitantly but … and this is most important… I genuinely feel it is the church being the church, doing what the church, as Christs ambassadors are meant to do. Have a read of the article above and my thoughts (potentially random ramblings from my head!!!) are below!
“Missionally ambitious rather than holding on to what we have” – we need vision! What do we hold in our highest hopes? What do we see for the church in the future? What do we see it being and what do we see it achieving?
“Workers being sent out” – we are all disciples – clergy or lay AND every person who calls themselves a Christian is a labourer for a harvest and that harvest is ripe. Valuing the contribution of everyone within the church – what can they do – how can they move us into that vision we have, what part can people be playing.
“A plentiful harvest” – disciples align to vision and cause – they offer time and talents and finance to something they value and something they believe in. When people live for something bigger than themselves and contribute to things they feel better about themselves, they are engaged IN a community that is engaging WITH a community. That fosters unity around a common cause it fosters feeling part of something and being involved. It generates us to be thinking of others rather than ourselves, in serving we emulate what Jesus came to do on this earth – serve others.
That will play a part in bringing the change and transformation of peoples lives. When I started my church I was fine to be on the edges and had no intention of being involved, this year is my 5th year of attending that church and I am fully involved serving and leading within the church. It is through the serving and leading that I have gained confidence and lost shyness, I have gained friends and a community who have been with me through the darkest of days grieving the loss of my sister and coping with parent’s ill health. Transformed lives build the strength of a community and shines an example outwith the community that contributes to church growth by creating lives where people are interested – where people see and wonder why are they different, how are they handling what they handle.
“A hopeful future” – in my church as a member and as a leader and volunteer I have been equipped and trained, not just equipped and trained for a task or a role but for leadership. Countless times I have used leadership explanations or methods taught to me at church within my work. Several times quotes from my Pastors have formed healthy discussions in appraisals or project boards. Not just equipped and trained for leadership but equipped and trained as a disciple and a missionary – which I firmly believe we all are. I heard a quote from social futurist Mal Fletcher about mission being doing what you do, where you do it to the best of your ability. It is in doing that we reach this plentiful harvest, it is doing that where we shine Jesus light into places it may not already be. I may not be equipped to reach millions in an auditorium or be equipped to take Gods word to prisons or work with homeless or many things, we each have our own area of skill or area we are graced in – but I am able to be a light and a witness wherever I work or where I go to the gym or take children to school. This is the church focussing on its mission and it is the church participating in Gods mission which is to see the lost found.
“A realistic assessment” – I almost don’t feel qualified to comment I am not an attendee of a Church of England church – however my church is growing and it’s demographic (although I don’t know numbers or percentages) is likely to be the complete opposite of what I see represented in CofE figures. The church needs leaders for sure – we should actually, all be leaders. We need clergy or pastors or priests etc. (whether they actually need to be stipend is questionable (and another argument for another day really)). Unsustainable ministry patterns and the need for capacity and leadership capacity would hopefully be addressed when we have a church contributing, and a church being trained and equipped for that work. Does it mean we may need to mention dreaded words like “management”, or “leadership” absolutely – does that mean it is secular – I don’t feel it is – I feel it is being a good steward. We should believe the church is not called to be peripheral to the world and so yes, we pastor, but we also lead and we also manage, we train and equip and we empower and mobilise – who do we do that to / for / with? In my opinion… Anybody within our reach – will it be messy? Yes – will it be worth it? Totally!
We need people to be planted in church and when they are planted in the house they flourish – it’s biblical.
When people flourish their lives are transformed.
When lives are transformed they are attractive.
When lives are attractive people are attracted.
I will absolutely be following the work of Renewal and Reform with great interest as it progresses. We should all remember, some things I was reminded of the other day…
- If you want God to do something NEW you can’t keep doing the same OLD thing
- When you know your WHY your WHAT has more impact