Mission - ECGI - Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative

Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative – ECGI Newsletter – September 2010

 

A 'Mixed-Economy' Church - Dr Rowan Williams Archbishop of Canterbury

A couple of years ago, I was at a conference of evangelists and 'pioneer ministers', many of them from independent and charismatic fellowships; and one senior and highly respected leader from this background said to me that he'd never expected to see the day when the Church of England was setting the pace for innovative mission strategies in the UK, but that he had to acknowledge that this was what was now happening.

It was a generous judgement, perhaps more generous than accurate, but it reflects something of the profile and priority that mission initiatives have had in the thinking and action of our church in recent years. For nearly two decades, of course, the Alpha Course and all the related projects associated with Holy Trinity, Brompton, in London, have injected new enthusiasm and professionalism into evangelism in all sorts of communities, and this continues with huge energy. The international Alpha conferences, including conferences for church leaders, have spread the Alpha method and philosophy worldwide, and motivate the most diverse Christian groups, right across the spectrum. It has certainly been a major contribution to worldwide mission from the Church of England, and we are profoundly thankful for it.

But along with this, the last five years or so have seen the growing development of another initiative, 'Fresh Expressions'. Its roots are in the Mission-Shaped Church report of 2003, pleading for flexible approaches to the creation of new Christian communities and working on the assumption that we needed to go where people actually were rather than wait for them to come to us. And if that meant meeting in unusual places at unusual times, well and good if it helped people towards transformed lives and fresh commitment to Christ and each other.

It was rapidly recognised that such an approach would need some specialist support and co-ordination and would also have implications for the training of ministers. The Archbishops launched 'Fresh Expressions' as a response to this, raising the money from private donations to employ an Archbishops' Missioner and a supporting team who would advise on strategy, consult locally, offer training and help to link different enterprises up with each other. Under the leadership of Steve Croft, the first such Missioner (now Bishop of Sheffield), hundreds of new experiments in outreach were registered and countless training events organised. The national church developed a stream of training for 'pioneer ordained ministry', preparing people for work in newer styles of church life. As the second phase of this work proceeds, now led by Bishop Graham Cray, who was largely responsible for the 2003 report, the aim is to build the whole project more firmly into the DNA of the Church of England and consolidate financial and organisational support.

It has never sought to replace the parish system, only to recognise that the parish system these days doesn't meet everyone's needs � hence the often repeated mantra of seeking a 'mixed-economy' church, in which new and inherited patterns coexist gratefully and learn from each other. From early on, Fresh Expressions has been a joint venture with the Methodist Church, and collaboration with the United Reformed Church has also now begun � as well as many local examples of co-operation with other and newer churches; so this has been an ecumenical venture as well as an evangelistic one.

Challenges remain, naturally. Some new enterprises have a very short life, for various reasons. The question arises of how 'fresh expressions'-type congregations experience the sacramental life of the Church. Sometimes pioneer ministers feel isolated and inadequately supported by the historic mainstream. But the growth of the initiative and the generous support it has won from so many in our church, make it a great gift and a real sign of good news.

14 Services every Sunday!  - Canon Rosemary Mbogo, Nairobi, Kenya

For the last 5 years,  All Saints Cathedral, Nairobi has run 14 services every Sunday.
In total about 5000 people are served through the services beginning 6.00a.m. to 6.00p.m. cutting across age, sector interest and desired mode of worship.
Each service has its own story behind its origin.

06: 00 am Holy Communion
07. 00 am Holy Communion
08. 00 am English Service
09. 30 am Adult English Service
09. 30 am Swahili Service
09. 30 am Youth Service
09. 30 am Teens Service
11. 30am Parish Liturgical Service
11. 30 am Youth Service
11. 30amTeens Service
11. 30am Sunday School
11. 30 am Service for Deaf
3. 00 pm Revival meeting
6.00 pm Evening service

The Services, Their origin, Motivation and Challenges

6: 00 am was started to meet the need of those who need a very early Communion.

7:00 am - this Holy Communion service has grown from just being a meditational service, without a song, to having its own choir. The attendance is consistent; it is often frequented by those who love a solemn service that is not crowded.  It has a lot of potential to grow. On the 1st Sunday of the month it uses the 1662 BCP order of service.

8:00 am - this is one of the two vibrant services, it is also one of the newest services having been started about 5 years ago when the Kiswahili service was moved to St Phillip Chapel. It has Holy Communion on the 1st Sunday every month, has a praise team that leads in praise and adoration with a contemporary band. It has the highest potential to grow as it can attract the young adults and those who may not want to wake up too early. During this service we also have a Sunday school for children who come with their parents.

9:30am Kiswahili Service. This is held in St Phillip’s Chapel in the new ultra modern Multi –Purpose Hall (MPH) complex, within the cathedral grounds. This caters for those members who are not very comfortable with English. It often gets visitors from Tanzania since Kiswahili is their national language.  The challenge has always been that it cannot easily grow as most people prefer the English services.

During 9:30am we have 4 services taking place at the same time but in different venues. The Kiswahili is as mentioned above, while in the main ‘sanctuary’ we have the Adult English service. It is a full service with the largest choir in the Cathedral, has the largest attendance and with a vibrant praise team and band. It has Holy Communion every 4th Sunday. There is also a Sunday school at the same time. We also recently launched a crèche for the babies which currently operate during this service.

Youth Services also operate at 9:30 and 11:30. These have evolved in the cathedral over the years. The current adult 9:30 service started as a youth service in the Old Large hall in the 1980s, but when they moved to the main ‘sanctuary’ older people joined, and the youth got older and it was turned to an adult service
The youth service has gone through two rebirths, the most recent being the current crowd who meet in phase two of the MPH. These services target those who fall within the age group of 18 – 25 years but some who are older are still comfortable there.  All who minister in the services other than the preachers are from the youth. The services are informal but maintain some form of Anglicanism. They have some tenets that are non-removable such as the Creeds, the Lord’s Prayer and the ministry of the Word. Holy Communion is served once a month in both the services.
Teens Services. We have two services also operating at 9: 30 and 11:30. The target group is 13 to 18 years. They hold their services in Phase 1 of the MPH. These services, like the current youth services, were born just two years before the launch of the All Saints Cathedral Strategic plan 2007 - 2011. The services have their own music groups, Praise Teams and bands. They are led by the teens, ministries originating from the teens minister in them. Like the youth services the non-removable  tenets of faith are used in the services. The Holy Communion is served once a month in both the teens’ services. They also have group discussions held twice a month.

At 11:30 am we have four services taking place  similar to 9:30a.m. The difference is that besides the youth, teens and the main sanctuary services, we also have the Service to the Deaf.  This is a unique service run by the deaf for the deaf. It takes place in St Phillip Chapel. We also have Sunday school taking place at this time.

3:00 pm Revival meetings.  This was set to get the members to experience refreshing times.  The challenge to this service is the attendance. The turnout has never been good and it is being thought through how to restructure it.

6:00pm Service - this is a very formal service. It has Communion once a month and is the service that uses the BCP 1662 Prayer Book a lot. It often has Choral Evensong and  Chants.

We always have Holy Communion at least once a month in every service except the Kiswahili that has it twice.

Book Review

Ancient faith, future mission: Fresh expressions in the sacramental tradition Seabury Books, New York, 2010). 182pp. Stephen Croft, Ian Mobsby and Stephanie Spellers (eds):Reviewed by Robert McLean Church to Church Missioner, Anglican Board of Mission, Australia

When I was a child it seemed that mission, and particular the evangelistic side of it, was something that only those who found themselves amongst the Low Church would ever engage in. If asked, I suspect that some vicars would have contented themselves by saying that they had fulfilled their mission by saying a Mass each Sunday. Those times have now gone, and the energy that fired the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholic slum priests is beginning to return to that part of the Church. With a vast treasury of liturgical and prayer resources, and a history of working where others simply wouldn’t, catholic Anglicans are, I think, especially well positioned to explore fresh expressions of Church. This collection of sixteen thought-provoking essays has been assembled with them in mind.

The first eight essays address a number of ‘big picture’ ideas, such as architectural setting, liturgical matters, and new monasticism. Thomas Brackett’s essay, Midwifing the movement of the Spirit, offers four challenges to the Church’s ordained ministry, in the hope that some clergy may make the transition from the ‘incredible and noble calling’ of what he calls ‘hospice ministry’ to becoming ‘those who feel the Spirit’s call to midwife fresh expressions of all that She is birthing into our world’.

The second section deals with specific examples of catholic fresh expressions, such as Blesséd, Feig, and U2charist. In the essay about ‘The Crossing’, a fresh expression based at St Paul’s Cathedral, Boston, we learn about how they embrace the Episcopal denominational tag. I think this will be of help to Catholics who see value in the ‘Anglican brand’ and want to use that to help re-energize the both the Church and the world, as did their forebears in faith in the nineteenth-century slums.

 Using Research for Church Growth

 Bill Bickle is an Anglican lay-person living 100 km east of Toronto with his wife Marnie.  He volunteers with the Diocese of Toronto and is the Canadian National Partner for Natural Church Development (NCD)

Evangelism and church growth in Canada are terms that bring to mind a broad spectrum of feelings, attitudes and misconceptions – many negative.  The close approximation to the US, ethnic diversity, and a culture of tolerance are key factors in this issue.  In our work with churches across Canada, in over 30 denominations, we have learned that Canadians have a wide range of opinions about who Jesus was and is, what faith means to them, their understanding of the local church, and their sense of what being a Christian means.  Our data from over two thousand Canadian churches indicates that people struggle with their formation of faith, how they experience God, and their ability to discuss their beliefs and feelings – not just to their friends and colleagues outside the church, but inside their own congregation.

Many Canadian Anglicans form their attitudes about evangelism from a heightened sense of the power and negative stereotype of the American Christian Right.  A relative acceptance of religion exists in the US, and church-going is considered a mainstream activity.  American television influences Canadian culture more than any other country in the world because we share a long border and Canada’s relatively small population is hugely dependent on the US in trade and commerce.  Canada is the most ethnically diverse country in the world: with a population of 33 million, nearly half identify non-Canadian, non-British and non-French ethnic affiliation.  There are nine ethnic groups exceeding 1,000,000 people and 25 groups over 200,000.  This broad cultural diversity brings a wonderful sense of tolerance while at the same time Canadians have developed an aversion to offending people of other cultures, and in particular people of other faiths.  I consistently hear Canadian Anglicans say, “who am I to impose my religious beliefs on other people?”

Canada is a much more secular country than the US and the Canadian Church aligns more closely with the UK, European and Australian churches.  Canadians are more sceptical of the Church and large institutions of all kinds, and struggle with commitment to such organizations.  Church-going in Canada is in constant decline while at the same time 77% of Canadians self-identify in the national census that they have a Christian religious affiliation.  17% have no religious affiliation and 6% are non-Christian.

Our research data indicates the two factors most likely to enhance the health and quality of the Canadian Anglican Church, indeed the Canadian Church more broadly, are how people gain a sense of purpose from their connection to God, and how they reach out from that connection to meet the needs of the community around them.  A parish where the people work through their beliefs, are able to articulate what they mean to them, and increase their ability to converse authentically about spiritual issues is raising its potential for growth because its health is improved.  And a church that is able to reach out in Christ’s love by connecting their good works to the passion resulting from a deep and significant connectedness to God is also raising its growth potential.  A healthier church is more attractional because it is more appealing, and it has the potential to be more missional as it naturally goes beyond itself to love its neighbours.

A recent research study of Canadians revealed that despite negative stereotypes of organized religion and of individual Christians, Canadians still hunger for a sense of meaning, intimacy, being connected in a significant way, and belonging to a group of people who literally desire to be agents of change in the world.  A healthier parish is poised to meet these people at their point of need, and will grow as a result.

Holistic Mission in South West Tanzania

Article provided by USPG—Anglicans in World Mission  for their 2010 Harvest Campaign —”What can you bring?” For more information see http://www.uspg.org.uk/resource.php?id=44

This is an exciting time for the diocese of South West Tanganyika, whose vision is for a sustainable church, proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Sisters of the Community of St Mary in Tanzania are converting their bible training into practical community action. After studying at the USPG-supported Milo Bible School, the Sisters have reported finding a new fluency in their preaching and a fresh vision for reaching out to hard-pressed communities. Sister Lucy, who has been a member of the community for 15 years, took a nine-month course at Milo last year. She said: ‘I am very thankful that I was given the opportunity to train at the bible school. The courses gave me the confidence to stand in front of people and teach the word of God. It really helped me with understanding the Bible.’

With this new understanding, Sister Lucy has been able to offer counselling and prayer support for those in need in the villages . ‘Some people come to the convent and ask for prayers,’ she said. ‘One woman was very upset because she was struggling in her marriage. But with prayer and counselling the family has made a lot of progress.’ Sister Lucy also helps with a range of community development programmes run by the community, which is self-sustaining and has a working farm. ‘We are involved in the surrounding communities,’ she said. ‘Poverty is the biggest issue, with most people eking out a living as subsistence farmers. Consequently, most young people are leaving the area to seek jobs on tea plantations or in towns, like Njombe.  ‘So we offer training so the people can start small agricultural projects, such as a piggery, raising chickens and vegetable gardens. People come to the convent to learn practical skills so they can do it for themselves.’

The Sisters run a series of weekly mother and child clinics in Sayuni and three neighbouring villages. Up to 200 mothers can gather at the clinic, patiently waiting their turn to see the nurse. Babies are weighed and monitored, inoculations are given, and both mother and child are given help with any ailments.

Another initiative set up by the Sisters is St Mary’s Kindergarten, in Njombe, which is attended by over 60 children. Some of the children travel up to two miles to get to the school – a difficult journey over rough terrain. The Sisters also operate a tree-planting scheme – important in a region where people cut down trees for firewood – and the convent’s vehicle doubles up as the local ambulance for taking patients to the nearest hospital, a three-hour drive. And, to generate income, the Sisters produce communion wafers for the Anglican Church; it’s a process similar to making pancakes, where the mixture is put on to a hot plate, then using a cutter when the mixture has cooled to create the wafer shape.

The Revd Fr Mathea Matwebo, the principal at Milo Bible School, said students are taught practical skills – such as farming, tailoring and carpentry – alongside church management, theology and pastoral care. Each year, Milo Bible School trains around 30 students – men and women. About a third go on to ordination training, but most become lay catechists (church community development leaders), such as Christina Mng’ong’o.

Christina said: ‘At Milo, we learned how to lead worship, how to counsel people and how to reach out to people who are not church members. We also received practical training in gardening and farming. Now I’m involved in development activities in my village, as well as teaching religious education in a primary school.’  Mother-of-five Esther Lutumo lives in Peluhanda, where Christina is a church leader. Esther said: ‘Since Christina became a leader of this church she has brought many positive changes. Her presence has brought many members back to church. She’s also proved to be a very good youth leader. She started a youth choir and taught them many songs, which is bringing life to the church.’

The Rt Revd John Simalenga, Bishop of South West Tanganyika, says: “Harvest is surely a time when we can – and must – celebrate the ‘weaving together’ of our lives with the life of Christ and the life of the world.”

Transforming Clergy Training in Ireland - a Project Manager’s Perspective

Andrew McNeile, Project Co-ordinator 

More information www.theologicalinstitute.ie www.ministry.ie

Background

In the transformation of any institution – the training and formation of its leaders has a vital role to play. It has therefore been an enormous privilege these past 4 years to have worked for the Bishops of the Church of Ireland in a substantial transformation of the Church of Ireland’s single clergy training Institute, located  in Dublin and working in partnership with the University of Dublin, Trinity College. The project started with a small group of Bishops – reflecting the different church traditions and perspectives of the episcopate, myself and the Central Director of Ordinands. Over the next 6 months this group took the various aspirations that had been expressed by the Bishops and turned them into a comprehensive plan. This was presented to a full House of Bishops meeting, which with minor adjustments was unanimously adopted – itself a source of some archiepiscopal surprise.

Aims and Aspirations

There were two overarching aims that were clearly stated and shaped much of the rest of the plan:

  1. To equip fully all members of the church ordained and lay to fulfil effectively the church’s mission in 21st century Ireland
  2. That the methods used to train people will, throughout, effectively connect learning and practice

The plan called out in more detail aspirations in the areas of formation and character, academic quality, relational community, governance, infrastructure and finance. These can be seen on the websites cited below. The development of ministerial characteristics sought by the Bishops at the point of Selection, IME completion and CME completion was also outlined. A further vital aspiration was for our one training Institute “To ensure that the training process is an enriching experience for all traditions within the Church of Ireland”

Communication

A key next step in the process was a year long phase of communication, dialogue and discussion throughout the length and breadth of the Church, starting with the key structural bodies and ending with public meetings. When there is only one place of training then inevitably changes on this have an impact on everyone and it is important that people have an opportunity to speak and be heard and the plan to be adapted where key points have been missed.

Implementation and Outcome

A new Director was appointed by the House of Bishops in 2008, the Reverend Dr. Maurice Elliott, having both practical and academic experience -  (Currently a Church of Ireland appointee to the ACC) – staff were also appointed in the field of Biblical Studies and also of Missiology. There were significant, occasionally challenging, discussions with our University Partner TCD, that resulted in a new curriculum for the new Masters in Theology degree. This taught Masters now includes significant obligatory modules in Church Leadership and Reconciliation and continues some of the many benefits of partnership with a world class academic institution that recognises our need to prepare ordinands for ministry in a faith based environment. There was also a €1m+ building project to transform the physical environment of the Institute expertly completed by our trustee body in challenging financial times.

The key success factors for the project was the unity in the House of Bishops in agreeing and supporting the plan and the visionary leadership of the project by the Bishop of Clogher, the Right Reverend Michael Jackson and his loyalty and support, under all circumstances, of a Project Manager who had come to his service from a very different church tradition and theological approach.

I think the guiding verse has been for us “that all of them may be one…….so that the world may believe”   John 17:21

Growing Youth Ministry - The experience of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Diocese of Lusaka, Zambia.     

Fr. Robert Sihubwa, Diocesan Youth Pastor & Cathedral Assistant Priest

in January 2009, we held two youth fellowship meetings, with the 18 existing members, also consulting with former youth leaders, to find ways to revive the Youth Ministry; ideas emerged that have since been implemented with very encouraging results.

From Youth Department to Youth Ministry - the word Department sounded more administrative, so we changed this to Youth Ministry, implying reaching out and providing a ministry.

Dance Group  - interpreting songs through actions. At first we had 8 youths interested; the Dean allowed the youths to minister during the main service through the dance. Some of the congregation applauded but others were skeptical; but at the next practice sessions, 40 youths turned up to join the dance group and since then many youths have come to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Sport – After this success, those who felt that dancing was not their area of strength formed Football and Netball teams. This brought in many who had either stopped coming to church or had joined other denominations and on Saturdays the cathedral grounds would be full of youths either dancing or practicing football or netball for their next encounters.  Before each game there are devotions and prayers for different issues challenging youths. Using sport as a tool for evangelism, we recently partnered with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) to reach out to the Muslim community in Lusaka through football. In the process we share the love of God and messages of salvation. Sport has contributed greatly to the growth of the Youth Ministry at the Cathedral.

Communication - Fortnightly, I send about 200 short texts (SMS’) with messages ranging from meeting reminders, commending them for presentations in Church, encouragement during examinations and letting them know that someone was praying for them.  Many texted back about the challenges they were facing, so we began a counseling process.

Youth Fellowship - The fortnightly Parish Youth Fellowship meeting for bible teaching, discussions, prayers and fellowship grew from 18 at the beginning of 2009 to between 80 and 90 by the June. The main emphasis of the fellowship is Christian living and prayer is the cornerstone to the success of any program. When youths get together, one leads in songs of worship then we welcome new members or visitors, have testimonies followed by announcements, bible teaching, discussions and snacks. Some parents, while waiting after the main service for their children, started having their own ‘fellowship’ outside; the youths call it “waiting parents’ fellowship”. We have seen through these fellowships  much transformation among the young people, parents have come to testify of how life in the home has changed for the better with less fighting and more focus on education and church.

Youth Camps - we introduced an annual youth camp attended in August 2009 by 115 youths from the Cathedral. The camp included teaching in the mornings, sports in the afternoons and group presentations around the bonfire in the evenings. The three days were a life changing experience, further enhancing the life of the Youth Ministry at the Cathedral.

Outreach to institutions of higher learning - The church bus is used to ferry students from the University of Zambia and Evelyn Hone Colleges to and from church services, encouraging most Anglican students to attend; we have now formed the Anglican Students Fellowships in the two institutions.

Alternative Service - The Parish Council introduced an Alternative Service with more contemporary songs and a level of free worship; focusing more on teaching; the atmosphere is more relaxed and open to new initiatives. We now have a Sung Eucharist and an Alternative Service. The Sung Eucharist at 08.00 hrs is mostly attended by the elderly members of the parish whilst the Alternative Service at 10.00 hrs is dominantly youthful, but with a good number of elderly members appreciating it. Our congregation of about 750 has about 500 below the age of 35. Around 130 aged 16 to 25 attend the youth fellowship and there are over 100 (14-25 years) in other youth activities.  A monthly “After work fellowship” attracts over 150 youths. 86 candidates have been confirmed this year, compared with 18-20 confirmation in the past, the majority below 25 years of age.

Lessons learnt: Youth programs and activities must always be initiated in consultation with the youth to promote ownership; You cannot put youths in a “box” expecting them to behave in a particular ways. Successful youth leaders must be flexible, open to accommodate the different responses; Youths love to be involved in activities that are on the “edge”, activities which are not predictable but have a sense of surprise. This is what makes our regular church services unfriendly to youths because of the predictability and routine that they have every time; Youths come to church, first, because of friends and later realize its Christ who is the center; A youth leader needs to be open to name changes of certain programs because youths feel drawn to names or titles that are catchy.

Prayer Board

Send your items for December, January & February for the next Prayer Board by 1 November

Pakistan

  • 8th to 13th October 2010 International Conference on Mission and Evangelism in Jhelum

South East Asia

  • 16 - 18 September  Mission Conference  Theme: Take to Hearts the Commands ... to the ends of the world
  • 25 October - 2 November Mission Team to Bangladesh

South Africa

  • 14 to 16 October Touching Heaven, Changing Earth - Holistic Mission and Ministry for the 21st Century. Pre-Lausanne Conference from for Anglican leaders
    Speakers include: Archbishop Thabo, Tricia Neill; Canon Rosemary Mbogo; Mark & Helen Van Koevering; Robert Siaki Motu; Derek Hong; Paul Siaki; Mark Oxbrow; Mike Cassidy; Blair Carlson

Get Involved

  • Register if you have not already done so, http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi - we will let the core group person responsible for your region know about you;
  • Tell others involved in evangelism and church growth about the Initiative and newsletter
  • Send us your stories, of how God is working through your church or organisation to grow his church, to include in future issues, (100 - 300 words) by 1 August for September edition. we are exploring how we can include more sensitive material on secure web pages;
  • Tell us about resources: books; websites; courses, good practice; prayers etc that we can include in future newsletters or on the website
  • Read the website  www.anglicancommunion.org/mission/ecgi to explore resources; we don’t have space in this issue to include all the material we have;
  • Translate this newsletter, and other material, into the languages of those who cannot read in English; at this stage we do not have the resources to do this ourselves.

Message Undeliverable - Stuart Buchanan

I know that when I send out this newsletter electronically, I will receive a number of emails saying message undeliverable. Of course, as with the gospel that we are committed to share, it is not the message that is undeliverable; it is the way that I am trying to deliver the message that is wrong! If I fail, I need to try to find a more appropriate method. But you can help by letting me know if you change your email address and also providing a postal address so that, if all else fails, I can post a copy to you. Thanks.