Led by Ashley Cooper and the Swanbank team, and Alison Ransome and the Ministries Discipleship and Learning Network, we attempted to share a vision, start a dialogue, see what is happening, and explore the future, all in 24 hours!.
There were some excellent workshops – I just wish I could have gone to them all. I chose Mike Rayson, ‘Transitioning a Church Through Difficult Change’, and Andrew Roberts, ‘Holy Habits’.
What were some of the key themes that emerged?
· Intentional Discipleship. Methodists are good at welcoming, but weak at intentional discipleship. Holy Habits is one resource which seeks to address this. I am resolved to practice Gladness and Generosity!
· Passionate Worship. Great worship is undergirded by prayer. Who is our audience? It is God. Every service needs to involve the intellect, engage the heart and inspire action. It is a personal encounter with the living God in Christ.
· Permissive not prescriptive. We need a permission giving church - relational not organisational.Where did we get to? I felt a sense of - we know where we want to get to, but we aren’t sure how to get there from here!
In conversations I had, a number of barriers to change were identified, which I believe we need to address:
· The plan – if churches are to grow, there needs to be consistency. It is not about style of worship, but excellence. If we are asking people to invite others to come, we need confidence in what they will find!
· A licence for local preachers – perhaps for 5 years? Which can be renewed, but needs to be reviewed. It is also about making sure that local preachers are being used appropriately to their gifting.
· Succession planning - how can we ensure continuity for a thriving church, with appropriate leadership? How does stationing help or hinder?
What can we do next? Engage in debate – not be afraid to ask the difficult questions or tackle the elephants in the room – and who knows where the Spirit will lead us! I, for one, am excited to find out.
(NB All views expressed here are entirely my own!!)