Looking back over the last nine years, I have seen tremendous changes in the way that we do mission. I have seen churches grow in confidence to reach out to their communities and to share the gospel of Jesus.
These are the top five changes I have seen:
A willingness to plan and engage by creating a Growth Action Plan (GAP)
A huge chunk of my work has been facilitating Growth Action Plan vision days. Churches from every tradition and context have met to write a simple plan. Repeatedly we have seen the value of churches coming together to answer three simple questions…A) where are we? B) where is God calling is to be? C) how we going to get there? Throughout the country, churches are reporting the significance of writing a Growth Action Plan and focusing their work to achieve its goals. For more info visit… http://www.peterborough-diocese.org.uk/soul-food/fresh-expressions
New ways of doing Youth work.
I have been delighted to welcome three youth officers into the Mission Team. Peterborough Diocese identified the declining numbers of young people as a serious challenge. Pete White started our two intern schemes (Expect and Echo) and this has had a wonderful impact on the churches in the diocese, with young people moving into fresh vocations and blessing churches with new ways of reaching their generation. Equally, Chad and Becky, our Archdeaconry Youth Missioner’s are working with churches on the ground to encourage and refresh youth work within the diocese. http://www.peterborough-diocese.org.uk/youth-work/youth-work
A Passion for Children and their families.
Rona Orme, our wonderful Children’s Missioner, has placed children’s work at the heart of the diocese’s mission. She has developed the Children’s certificate, a superb training scheme that encourages and supports children’s workers to grow into their ministry. The annual Starburst conference is the highlight of the diocesan calendar. Here we share good news, get inspired from national speakers and laugh at diocesan officers fumbling through action songs! It is not to be missed… Many churches bring all of their children’s workers. For more info visit http://www.peterborough-diocese.org.uk/news-and-events/events/details/1848
Taking risks and being creative.
When I arrived in post some churches were considering if they should start a Fresh Expression. Now, nearly all the churches I engage with are trying something new. We have seen remarkable growth in messy and café church as well as church plants in new build areas. Charlie Nobbs, our hugely experienced New Initiative Training Officer, is encouraging even more new ways to engage with those who do not connect traditional church. If you want to get stuck-in to doing something new email Charlie.
Churches are called to grow.
However, the greatest change I have seen is one of expectation. When Bishop Donald arrived, he inspired us to remember that all churches are called to grow. We are a diocese on the move. We have seen a huge rise in vocations, both lay and ordained. Churches are engaging with their contexts and finding a new confidence in the gospel. Bishop Donald has built a central diocesan team to support the missional work of the local church. We have moved to a culture of confident expectation in the growth of the church. These are exciting times!