Acts 6.7a – ‘The word of God continued to spread'
The Evangelism & Church Growth Initiative Newsletter
As we faithfully remind ourselves, through Scripture, prayer and worship, of Christ's Passion, and the events of Holy Week and Easter Day, we are reminded of the huge changes that the disciples needed to come to terms with in a very short period of time. They needed to work through confusion, pain and a sense of hopelessness before the resurrection joy of Easter. We also need to remind ourselves that although we understand the message of Easter, and can celebrate it on Easter Sunday, for the disciples there was still a lot of doubt and confusion as they learnt that their previous understanding of who Jesus was, and God's purposes, had been too small and they needed to re-evaluate who Jesus really was, and how his death and resurrection impacted upon them and their lives. So making sense of faith and discipleship during a time of rapid change is something we, too, should expect within our own ministry and mission and many of the stories in this edition of Witness6.7 are about witness within a rapidly changing world. We hope that you are encouraged by these articles.
As I write, I am nearing the end of five years as the Archbishops' Missioner in the Church of England and Leader of the Fresh Expressions Team, which began as a Partnership between the Church of England and the Methodist Church in 2004. Now the partnership includes The Congregational Federation, the United Reformed Church, The Salvation Army and the Church of Scotland.
Looking back the primary conviction I am left with is of God's faithfulness. At a time of profound cultural change we have experienced God's Spirit, once again, as the leader of his church's mission: The Spirit is always ahead of his church and has been teaching us new ways for a new world. Like Peter, out of his familiar comfort zone - and enroute to Cornelius, we have been learning to follow the missionary Spirit.
In response to the Holy Spirit the development of fresh expressions of church in the UK has developed three part ecology. Ordinary local Christians in a wide variety of parishes have been receiving new gifts of missional imagination. They have been recognizing the need for new forms of church, to reach those who seem beyond the reach of our existing work. Bishops have been encouraging them to try, and the Fresh Expressions team has training courses to show them how. You receive vision from God, encouragement from your leaders and training based on good practice - what could be simpler?
There has been substantial growth in both the denominations which began this work. There are 46,000 people in Methodist fresh expressions, and 21,000 in the ten Church of England dioceses, which have been researched indicating that there could be four times as many in the Church of England's full 44 dioceses. In both churches there has been rapid momentum since 2010. This momentum is built on the foundation laying work of the earlier years. We have learned that the proper response to God's missionary faithfulness is patient persistence with the vision.
We have recognized the need for a new sort of leadership with an entrepreneurial edge. The language of 'pioneering' has become increasingly important. We have Ordained Pioneer Ministers whose whole vocation is to plant something new, but even more significant are the hundreds and hundreds of lay leaders, many of whom had not exercised leadership in the church before.
This has proved to be an ecumenical gift, a new partnership in mission. All the historic denominations in Britain face the same context of an increasingly pluralist, often secular culture, which has lost its Christian roots. Now six of them are learning to work together, in a partnership in which each is able to benefit from the experience of all. Unity grows as we partner in mission.
To our great surprise it has proved to be an international gift as well. We have never promoted it but have responded to invitations from all over the world - Australia, Barbados, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and South Africa among others. Having been visiting South Africa since the 1980s it is a particular joy to see the Church of the Province and the Dutch Reformed and Uniting Reformed Churches partnering together to plant fresh expressions of church for South Africa
I am convinced that we have only seen the beginning of what the missionary Spirit wishes to do. I hand over the leadership of our team to my friend Canon Phil Potter in confidence that the best is yet to come.
Bishop Graham Cray - Archbishops' Missioner, Church of England
Who comes to fresh expressions of Church?
Church Army's Research Unit has discovered that fresh expressions of Church are growing significantly across the Church of England.  They are having a major impact according to a report, produced as part of the Church of England's 18-month Church Growth Research Programme.
The report examined all known examples in 10 representative dioceses. On average within a diocese, fresh expressions make up 15% of the churches and 10% of the attendance. In most cases the new people attending reversed numerical decline in the years 2006-2011.
Canon Dr George Lings and his team spoke to the leaders of 518 fresh expressions of Church in Liverpool, Canterbury, Leicester, Derby, Chelmsford, Norwich, Ripon and Leeds, Blackburn, Bristol and Portsmouth dioceses.
The report found that these young churches are showing signs of growth. Here are some of the report's highlights:
George Lings, Church Army's Research Unit Leader, said: "As we conducted the research, it was energising to hear their leaders talk about the growth seen. Fostering fresh expressions of Church is very important for the future life of the Church of England. Now for the first time we have evidence to back up that conviction, as we move from reliance on stories to having statistics as well. We hope and pray that the findings are an encouragement and gift to the Church. This is apt as Archbishop Justin Welby, has made 'evangelism and witness' one of his three top priorities."
Church Army's Research Unit worked as part of the Cranmer Hall, St John's College, Durham Consortium. Topics covered in the overall research sponsored by the Church Commissioners also included growth at cathedrals and larger churches, church planting and the effect of amalgamations and team ministries.
To read the full report on fresh expressions of church and to watch a film, visit www.churcharmy.org.uk/fxcresearch
Three or four weeks ago one of my Readers was preaching on the Baptism of Jesus. Prior to the service beginning, she laid down a piece of blue material along the floor of the side chapel. She mentioned it to me and I went to view it. While looking at what she had done, together we had the mind to put a small wooden cross at the one end of the material with three candles around it. It would not be our normal tradition to use candles but nevertheless this is what we did. The person who was due to lead the church in prayer sent a message saying they were unable to attend so it fell on my shoulders to pray instead. As the service progressed I had an overwhelming feeling that I should invite the whole congregation to quietly journey through the side chapel at the normal time for prayer, and for them to take as long as they liked in their reflections. Unknown to me, a young man and his wife had come to seek baptism for their child the man had never been to our church before; in fact he was from a different tradition all together. He and his wife and child made this symbolic journey with everybody else and nothing was said. A week later I had to meet up with this young man and he shared the reality of what happened to him on that journey. As soon as he entered the chapel he said he felt warmth consuming him and the presence of God like he'd never ever felt before. This experience brought him to tears and he confessed Jesus Christ as Lord that very same day. As you can imagine my heart jumped for joy at hearing this news.
The reason I wanted to share it with people is simply this. Use the opportunity to think outside the box and don't be afraid to use imagery to speak for itself. I believe this is what the Lord had planned for this young man and his wife as they came looking for baptism for their child. Never be afraid of encouraging people to do something they have never done before like journey through the side chapel. The amazing thing was that all of the congregation apart from two people took this step and many others spoke of the power of imagery and the impact it made on that day.
I hope this article encourages people to take a chance and let God use the simplest of imagery for His purpose.
Rev. Roy Doran, Knotty Ash, Liverpool, England
Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) is a journey of spiritual discernment that empowers churches to respond to God's mission. PMC takes a cluster of 6-12 local congregations on a journey of discovering God's specific call to them for moving beyond doing mission to being missional in attitude, vision and action. PMC is based on two decades of consulting, experience, research, scholarship, and the discovery that congregations learn best from other congregations, but only when given a safe environment in which to reflect on successes and failures together. It is franchised from Church Innovations (CI), USA www.churchinnovations.org In North America the Anglican Dioceses of Western Massachusetts and the First Nation Peoples with Bishop Mark McDonald have participated in the process to great effect.
Here in the UK East Midlands region we began a pilot PMC project working with our first cluster of 15 congregations (in 11 benefices) in 2012 between Leicester and Southwell & Nottingham Dioceses alongside St. John's College, Nottingham and CI. There has also been a similar pilot process in the Diocese of Bath & Wells. The process is 'research led' with data being collected at the beginning and end and evaluated with qualified researchers. So far in the East Midlands cluster we have noted congregations;
We are therefore convinced that we are on track to deliver the kind of reported outcomes researched in participating congregations worldwide over the last 30 or so years, some of which are;
We are really excited as we don't think there is anything quite like PMC anywhere else which attempts to offer such 'deep cultural change' in congregations over the long term and reconnect the academy with the local church where theology belongs. In a sense we are trying to take whole congregations through the kind of formation process that individual ministers go through in their theological training. Often this involves a breaking down and a letting go before the new minister emerges into ordination and we are noticing the same pattern in congregations. This can be hard and we know our faith is cross-shaped with Jesus asking us to die in order to live.
I you would like to find out more about what we are learning from the Partnership for Missional Church don't hesitate to be in touch.
Nigel Rooms, Director of Ministry and Mission, Diocese of Southwell & Nottinghamnigel.firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Harrison, Director of Mission and Ministry, Diocese of LeicesterMike.Harrison@LecCofE.org
Nick Ladd, Director of Ministry and Formation and Director of Practical Theologyn.email@example.com
St. Peter's Episcopal Church has sat on the bustling corner of West Seventh and North Tryon streets in center city Charlotte since 1857. The congregation was established in 1834. Like many Episcopal Churches, the people of St. Peter's were generally white and upper-middle class. In the late 1970's, the church's property was in an "undesirable" area of Charlotte with development beginning to concentrate in the southern part of the city. Homeless neighbors slept in the church's yard and called surrounding streets their home. During that season, with a young visionary associate rector, robust lay leadership, and a supportive rector, the Church began serving lunch to its neighbors and founded what would become the largest non-profit service agency that focused on assisting Charlotte's homeless population. Around the same period, St. Peter's slowly began to diversify racially. Now St. Peter's has members from England, Jamaica, and Sierra Leone and countless other parts of the world. Many parishioners are drawn to St. Peter's because of its diversity. However, Charlotte remains a fairly segregated city and ranks lowest among the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the US for upward mobility. If you are poor in Charlotte, it is harder to work your way out of the legacy of poverty and racism than in other cities.
The people of St. Peter's know the blessings that diversity bring and also seek to live out the Mission of the Church "to restore all people to unity with God and each other" (BCP855). To this end, the parish is developing a series of programs designed to equip the parish to actively partner with God in the work of reconciliation: "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself…" (II Cor 5:19). In November, they offered a public screening of the documentary Traces of the Trade, a film exploring the ongoing legacy of slavery through the lens of one family's journey to acknowledging their roots as New England's largest slave-trading family. Currently, nearly a dozen intergenerational small groups are meeting to study about Jesus' teachings about justice, compassion and reconciliation, using a curriculum developed by The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston called Good News: A Congregational Resource for Reconciliation. Future programs will include anti-racism training and a public film series on the topic.
St. Peter's seeks to model how to have important but difficult conversations about social issues that trigger guilt, shame and confusion. By addressing supposedly "taboo" topics like race, St. Peter's is witnessing to God's reconciling love, strengthening its parishioners to identify God's work for justice in the world, and engaging with God's Spirit as it is concretely manifest among those advocating for better opportunities for all Charlotteans in their daily life and work.
The Rev. Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC
One of the challenges in Youth Ministry leadership is training youth leaders.
In our context here in the Anglican Church of Canada one of the things that we have indentified as a barrier to effective youth ministry is theological inexperience. Many youth ministry staff in parishes and regions are hired with lots of experience with young people and perhaps a background in recreation, camp, teaching or secular youth work but by and large, they do not have any significant theological formation. They also do not have time or opportunity for extensive training - particularly in a country such as ours where many people are hundreds of kilometres from major centres.
Many people do youth ministry as a part-time job alongside other work or family commitments. Youth ministers, however, have a significant role in the faith community of helping young people navigate significant questions of faith and life. Young people today living in a pluralistic post-modern society lament that the church is not relevant, nor able to speak to their deep questions without resorting to platitudes. Too often, youth ministry leaders cannot engage challenging questions of faith and belief beyond simplistic 'Sunday school' answers or bumper-sticker/Hollywood/hallmark theology.
To address this challenge, Huron University College, a Canadian Anglican Theological College, in partnership with our national youth ministries office, have developed a new initiative called "Trailblazing". Its aim is to provide theological formation to youth leaders (volunteer and paid) in our congregations, most of whom do not have any formal theological training, and yet are deeply engaged in the work of faith formation of children and youth. Our intent is to create a cadre of reflective, thinking youth ministers who don't simply just grab the latest curriculum or on-line resource and hope for the best, but rather, develop their own theological literacy and capacity to understand why we do what we do in youth ministry. Our hope is to help people in youth ministry to deepen their own awareness and understanding and in so doing, deepen their engagement with young people in the faith community in a meaningful way.
Trailblazing launched in February and the major development of this site is happening this year. Currently, there are four modules up and running (Introduction to Theology, Worldview and the Gospel, Belief and Practice and Youth Ministry Basics) and many more to come in the coming weeks and months. An annual single subscription of approximately £40 gives users access to ALL current and future modules on the site. Discounted group subscriptions are available for Dioceses or large parishes. Developers plan to have about 25-30 modules completed by the end of the year (all included in the one subscription price). Each module contains thought-provoking things to read, exercises for reflection, videos, audio clips, original animations as well as opportunity to engage in conversation with other youth workers through on-line monitored Forums.
Judy Steers - The address of the Trailblazing site is www.trailblazing.anglican.ca
At a recent conference I was asked to speculate about what our parishes would look like a decade from now. My answer was brief: "One thing I can say with certainty is this: The only way our churches will look like they do now is if they have been stuffed and mounted and displayed in a museum of natural church history."
The context in which our congregations exist is shifting so dramatically that mere tweaking of method and message can no longer return us to health, let alone vitality. We are facing radical change - radical as in going to the root - requiring of us both radical recognition and radical response.
As congregational leaders, we must confront the fact that our churches are dying. While we may wish they were timeless and eternal, at the core our churches are living human organisms, and dying is what all living organisms eventually do. But first they are born, live, adapt, create new life, and pass on their DNA to the next generation. We cannot insulate our churches from death without isolating them from the very process that would empower the next generation, not just to survive but to thrive.
To guide our churches into a vital future, we must help our congregations to embrace their organic nature - to see death not as the ultimate failure but as the door to greater life. We need to help our congregations learn how to die in a way that plants the seeds of their resurrection; but how? How can we, as congregational leaders, learn this radical response and walk this counterintuitive, paradoxical path? How do we help our congregations live into a more incarnational Christianity that values organism over organization?
Changing Our Paradigm
If we as leaders are to help our congregations change their ways of doing Church, we first have to recognize that our old and familiar paradigm of Church is fading away, and that a new and unfamiliar paradigm of Church is emerging. And because the new paradigm is not yet fully present, we have to help our congregations learn to explore its pathways and boundaries.
Leading congregations in a time of paradigm shift is no easy task. Be wary of any who call themselves experts in times like these; when a paradigm shifts, everyone goes to zero. There are no experts, only fellow learners. While I do not claim to be an expert in the emerging paradigm of Church, I do have some experience in helping my own congregation - as well as a few other congregations and dioceses - to explore it. And I am willing to share some of what my congregation and I have learned since it was born in 1995.
My congregation began its journey into the emerging paradigm with an exploration of the Apostle Paul's image of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12):
We began to ask ourselves what our congregation would be like if we took this passage seriously. If in this passage Paul is expressing his deeply organic understanding of the nature of Christian community, then how is God calling our own Christian community to live? As we engaged this question with imagination and prayer, our image of Church began to shift. We began to think of Christian community less as an organizational structure in which people occupy various fixed and static roles, and more as a living organism that grows, adapts to its environment, reproduces, thinks, and moves - one which has a vision and a calling implanted in its DNA by the Spirit of God.
As our paradigm of Church began to shift, our behaviors as leaders and as a congregation began to shift as well. We began asking ourselves additional "so what" questions. If we were to answer the call to become an organic, incarnational Christian community, how would we need to change:
The way we think of congregational unity?
The above is an abbreviated version of an article by The Rev Ken Howard the founder of The Paradoxy Center for Incarnational Christianity at St. Nicholas Church, and the founder and rector of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Germantown, Maryland, PracticingParadoxy.com and SaintNicks.com
Many did not have any parenting training having to rely on what they learnt from their parents with this tending to be authoritarian. But they were glad to attend the positive parenting training as it has helped them to be better parents. These were the sentiments echoed by a lot of participants numbering more than 70 who attended the positive parenting program organized by the Diocese of Central Melanesia in Honiara, Solomon Islands in the latter half of last year.
Indeed in the Solomon Islands, it is tough for many people to parent their children with a lot of children unable to continue their education in either primary and secondary schools due to lack of spaces. Furthermore, there was not a lot of job opportunities to cater for the many thousands of children who drop out of the education system. Also, many young people have to cope with children when they still need their parents.
The programme adopted in in the Solomon Islands was developed by the Mothers Union Worldwide and adapted to take into the Christian faith and the positive aspects of the island cultures by the Provincial Mothers Union of the Anglican Church of Melanesia. The program was run over weeks with one day (3 hour session) in a week devoted to the program. With the Church taking on board the program, the development of the faith of the child in God was also an important feature in order for the child to grow up to be a responsible and useful adult in the island nation of the South Pacific.
I was a facilitator of the parenting program at St Barnabas Cathedral our provincial cathedral and a parent myself, I was greatly encouraged by the response and furthermore, I myself learnt from the program and other parents. The other six parishes in the Diocese also ran the parenting programme.
Indeed, the parents have a big responsibility on their hands not only in proper parenting but also more specifically in developing their faith in God. In one of the stories of the Bible which we shared prior to the commencement of one of the sessions, children were brought by their parents to be blessed by Jesus: note the role of the parents - the children could not possibly come to Jesus without them.
The program is being rolled out to the other Dioceses of the Anglican Church of Melanesia by the Provincial Mothers Union during this year and we are looking forward to continuing with another batch of participants to undergo the training program at St Barnabas Cathedral.
George Kiriau, Diocese of Central Melanesia in Honiara, Solomon Islands
The Diocese of Temotu in the Anglican Church of Melanesia is to launch a Decade of Evangelism and Renewal on 25th�May 2014. Please pray for the Diocese and the whole Province on this mission venture that the Holy Spirit will go ahead of them, and their labour will bear fruit to the glory of God.
Tony Lawrence, the Provincial Youth Co-ordinator of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA), is on a 5,000 kilometre tour of South Africa on a 250cc commuter motorcycle to raise awareness and funds for the Project2013 youth project.
Tony is visiting 20 Dioceses in 30 days, the tour ends on 31st March but in the mean time Tony has to "contend with very adverse weather (very unusual and untimely) and will have to watch out for flooding and hidden potholes."
Writing on his blog, Mr Lawrence said, "This is not a lifelong dream I've always wanted to achieve. It just happened.
"The overriding cause is my passion for the emerging generation and that we have to view our young ones differently if we are going to be able to develop them to their full God-given potential. We have to create an environment which helps children and young people develop holistically with spiritually being its core development.
"I do not ride a Harley cruiser, or a BMW 1200 GS Adventure dual purpose bike or a Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa Street bike. Just a Suzuki GW250 Inazuma commuter (Inazuma means "where lightning strikes" - in Japanese)."
Indeed, he has already had to contend with inclement weather, a tortoise and baboons in the road and, at one stop, nowhere to sleep!
Nevertheless, he has been welcomed by a host of dioceses including Saldanha Bay, Kimberley & Kuruman and Matlosane.
Follow his progress on http://tonyrides5000.wordpress.com/
John Kafwanka, originally written for ACNS
Anglican Witness: Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative now has 500 registered participants based in at least forty different countries. We also well over 1100 friends in our Facebook group. The majority of the Facebook friends are not yet registered, so we’re pretty sure we’re directly in touch with over 1,400 different participants around the Anglican Communion!
That’s 1,400 people with different stories to tell about how they’re involved in evangelism and church growth in their own contexts; 1,400 people we can all learn from and share with.
Youare the Initiative; the participants. So use the Initiative as a way of keeping in touch, and to support and encourage and pray for each other. You can do this in the following ways:
Register if you haven’t already done so. Encourage others to register too! The online form is available on http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi — we will inform the core group person responsible for your region about you and make sure you are sent this newsletter;
Share your stories – so that we can include these within the newsletter; stories of how God is working through your church or organisation to grow his church; stories to encourage others; stories so that we can learn from your experience. Send stories, preferably of between 300 and 700 words, with photos to firstname.lastname@example.org Material for the July 2014 newsletter is needed by 1 June; we welcome all relevant material but would particularly like to hear more stories about church planting, as well as material on discipleship and initiatives that involve children and young people;
Explore the website – at www.aco.org/ministry/mission/ecgi you will find back copies of the newsletter, lists of evangelism resources and various resources that others have produced to help with their work;
Become a Facebook we have already passed the 1100 ‘friends’ mark – once you have joined Facebook, go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/anglicanwitness the Facebook page provides an interactive forum so that you can share stories, prayer requests, resources and questions with each other. Then tell your friends;
Encourage others - who are involved in evangelism and church growth to register, join the Facebook group and explore our website. A first step is to forward copies of this newsletter;
Tell us - about resources: books; websites; courses, good practice; prayers, forthcoming events etc that we can include in future newsletters or on the website;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; Pray! For the work featured in the newsletters and Facebook page and give thanks for God’s faithfulness.
The Mission Department
Anglican Communion Office
St Andrew’s House, 16 Tavistock Crescent
Westbourne Park, London W11 1AP, UK