On Saturday 29th October the clergy, churchwardens and PCC met together for a day of prayer and reflection on the mission of St Michael’s church, on our work in and with our community.
We began by reflecting on the three themes of Living God’s Love:
“Going Deeper into God: in times of despair, try not to run away, but instead watch, wait and listen for God’s help. When life is going well we don’t seek God’s word: we believe in ourselves and don’t actively look for God’s message. We shouldn’t be living our lives in isolation but sharing them with others. We need to find more regular time when our lives are not in crisis to be still and open to God’s word, and to pray. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’”
“Transforming Communities is outreach to communities within communities, to other faiths and to those without faith. Church (i.e. the people) can and should act as a focal point, as an open and welcoming community – and this means being outside the building. We are already doing some of this, but we need better ‘marketing’. We should be inviting people to faith and not just to church (through activities that act as examples, e.g. hospital cars), and thus we can be a resource for people to turn to ask ‘where can I go for…’.”
“Making New Disciples: On the Emmaus road we find togetherness – Jesus drew alongside the disciples and drew out from them what they wanted, their stories, fears and hopes. Often the time when people are at their lowest point or at a crossroads is the time when they are open to hear the message. It is important to listen to people in order to draw out what they are feeling and thinking – what their needs are. Introduce the story, the good news, and hospitality helps to bring people into community. Belonging can lead to believing.”
What are your reflections on Living God’s Love and its three themes?
During our second session we looked at our community, both St Michael’s and Bishop’s Stortford.
Our understanding of our ‘Church’: “It is not the building, but rather the gathering together of a worshiping community. The building is a visible symbol of the community meeting in it.” “There is ‘something’ here for everyone – for you – and the building acts as a physical focal point in B/S that would be missed.” “The importance of people – people who belong.”
Our understanding of our ‘Church and its purpose’: “We should re-invigorate our list of what members of St Michael’s do and who/what they have connections with outside the church, so that we increase our awareness of what is already going on in the community.” “We are keeping going at a reasonable level, but there are difficulties about cohesion and integration: how do we get new people involved and to feel part of the family?” “Serving ourselves – encouraging people to grow in faith to be able to be Christian in different contexts – and serving the wider community.”
Our understanding of our ‘Church serving its community’: “Not doing much that is known about and community needs are not known about collectively.” “Reactive rather than proactive – fragmenting / ad hoc service rather than a cohesive, planned approach.” “We should enliven our porch and internal displays to attract/inform visitors. We also need to develop our weekday activities.”
What are your reflections on our ‘looking’?
In our last session we sought to discern our vision, priorities and goals for the next five years.
There was a general feeling that the vision formulated in 2005 was good –
“To be a welcoming and transforming community of people
who know, love, and serve God”
– yet there was a desire to express something about being ‘outward-looking’ as both welcoming and transforming can be seen or understood as inward actions.
Likewise, there were similar sentiments about our priorities from 2005 and some changes were suggested:
- To broaden
ourthe knowledge of God through preaching, teaching, study and awareness.
- To deepen our love of God through worship, prayer, and fellowship.
- To widen our service of God through
greateroutreach, compassion, care, and contact in the town and worldwide.
- To seek the leading of God’s Spirit in a changing world.
But it was agreed we should ‘keep it simple’ so all could know and work towards them.
Do you have any suggestions for our vision or priorities,
or any further priorities to add?
Possible goals to explore were raised:
- Engagement with transient workers (i.e. airport staff).
- Better PR. A website with reciprocal links and more social media. Updates in the TI and library.
- A study place in church and a church library.
- A fair-trade stall in church, to coincide with market days.
- Encourage the 40-60s age group to fulfil leadership roles in church life.
- More imaginative use of Sundays whilst retaining the liturgical framework.
- Widen the use of WCC.
- Encourage regular giving.
- Smaller sub-groups to improve integration (a ‘house system’).
alongside our current 2012 Festival that should be recognised as a current goal.
Can you think of any further goals we should consider
or do you have a preference for any of the above?