God for All builds on five years’ work to grow disciples. During that time, various questions and issues have been raised about procedure and details which are still pertinent. Answers are provided below to issues raised to date. This list is not exhaustive and will be revised as further feedback and suggestion is received.
Can a church leader be a team rather than an individual?
We would normally expect to see the church or parish run by a team (the leadership team), not simply by an individual. However there are two senses in which a specific individual should be identified (i) the member of the team who has overall responsibility for the work of the team and who will, for example, chair meetings, and (ii) a ‘go to’ person who acts as the first point of contact for anyone in the community or wider church. Leading a team is not seen as an exercise in power or authority – see the response to ‘what models of leadership do we want develop?’ for the qualities that might be expected of a leader.
Note that precisely the same issue can be raised with respect to mission community leaders. As with the local church we very much expect a mission community to be run by a leadership team, but it still makes sense to identify someone who exercises overall leadership and acts as a point of contact.
What models of leadership do we want to develop?
This is a key issue and one that we need to address seriously. Some of the qualities expected of the leader of a mission community, in addition to being a good pastor, include:
- spiritual maturity
- strategic / holding the vision / inspirational
- valuing diversity
- missional / pioneering / missionary
- challenging / affirming
- collegiate / collaborative / supportive
- discerning / nurturing / enabling / energizing / trusting
Rather than having an ‘archway’ from which a mission community emerges, wouldn’t it be more helpful to have a set of ‘stepping stones’?
The suggestion of providing a set of stepping stones is an eminently sensible one, albeit that they might not be laid out as a rigid series – the Steering Group will give serious consideration to detailing a set of ‘steeping stones’ as part of the toolkit that it wants to provide. But, the two concepts are not, by their nature, mutually exclusive. The Steering Group are of the view that it is vitally important that mission communities are positioned to bring about real and positive missional change and that we need to be able to make a judgment about whether or not a proposed mission community is yet poised to bring about that change. The Steering Group is giving further serious consideration to the early stages of a mission community’s journey.
When will we have clarity over the number of paid ministers we can have in each mission community and over who decides?
The decision about how many paid posts in a mission community (and indeed across the set of mission communities in an area ) will be made at local level by local churches and the area steering group) in co-operation with county-wide leadership. This will be informed, in part, on the level of giving that is expected – we have to be able to pay our way. Of course, until there is clarity about which churches will be in which Mission Community it is difficult to be precise about numbers.
How will we work with clergy who won’t work with neighbours or are obstructive and the flipside, i.e. the risk of isolation of the clergy who would be happy in an MC but whose neighbours won’t work with the MC?
This is a problem . Regrettably, in some areas, the implementation of the strategy might be impeded by people who refuse or decline to engage with others in the necessary way. Nevertheless, whether it is clergy or congregations that are not participating, the development of mission communities and the evangelization of Cumbria is still going to happen – leaving some to catch up or join in later.
Help with process for deciding future of buildings, checklist/self audit etc
This is a good example of the type of resource that should be included in the resource toolkit – the Strategy Steering Group will add it to the list of desirable resources and will attempt to get suitable material in place in the near future .
Which buildings do we close?
Hopefully the resources mentioned in the answer to the previous question should help in answering this question. Any decision to close a building is one that will be taken locally (and within the mission community), not imposed.
Roles and training for administrators, common tools inc IT, inc denominational differences
A useful and sensible suggestion/question. The Strategy Steering Group will consider what help can be given.
Where will support for developing Pioneer Ministry come from?
The plan calls for the appointment of a God for All fresh expressions enabler together with other posts dedicated to enabling mission and outreach. The various ‘outreach’ appointments will be CofE appointments, and the Diocese will be employing them and paying them, however the clear intention is that their work will embrace all three denominations.
Extent to which inconsistency between MCs is permitted, what are the core components?
This is something that the Steering Group will need to address in the resources that will be made available to the area steering groups. We expect there to be significant variation in the way that mission communities operate across Cumbria, the way that they organize themselves and the activities that they undertake. The key factors that might be considered as the ‘core components’ are those things explicitly identified in the Ministry Strategy document. Although Mission Communities will have a local ‘shape’ nevertheless they also need to embrace the need for, and possibility of, transformational missional change.
How do we balance maintenance vs time for the new?
This question is, presumably, primarily focused on stipendiary ministry, and it has to be recognized that change will not necessarily be easy. Two key points need to be made: (i) substantially more of the ‘maintenance’ needs to be handled by the laity and self-supporting ministers (including by dedicated administrators), and (ii) not all the ‘new’ will be down to stipendiary ministers – experience indicates that many fresh expressions of church are run by the laity. A key focus in setting up a mission community must be on new mission and outreach activities and emphases – rather than starting from what we do now.
Keep mission as main driver – not finance
Agreed. Finance may act, at times, as a constraint on what we can do but there is no sense in which the strategy is significantly driven by finance. The whole thrust of the strategy is to enable dramatically more mission and outreach across the County – to make our churches much more outward looking. And clarity of purpose – towards mission and evangelism – may well unlock new money because people are motivated to support a clearer gospel and kingdom vision and see that church and God for All is clearly about serving their communities and helping people with God.
What’s the plan beyond the structures?
God for All. Changing structures is in no sense an end in itself but an enabler to allow much greater focus of resources and attention on mission and outreach in many forms–to take church to people rather than simply expecting them to come to church. A key part of considering any proposal to form a mission community will be a close look at its plans for new mission and outreach.
What posts will we offer to curates leaving training – will there be fewer suitable posts?
Arguably curates will have a wider range of choices than would currently be available as a result of a significant number of the clergy take on more specialized roles. Note that this issue also applies to Methodist probationer ministers and newly ordained URC ministers.
Clarity over MAPping expectations for MCs. Aggregation or common themes from parish or individual church MAPs?
The starting point for a mission community’s mission action planning may well be the MAPs or equivalent plans drawn up by the individual parishes and churches. There is no simple answer to whether the process should look to aggregate the individual plans or to seek the common themes – both may well be appropriate. In addition, in looking at the mission community as a whole, new ideas will arise – particularly for approaches that can span the community as a whole. There should also be greater scope for new fresh expressions of church when considering the resources as a whole.
Part of the MAPping process involves regular, prayerful (annual) review. Once Mission Communities are in place it becomes more likely that churches within a Mission Community will want to share their insights, achievements and challenges, and think and pray together about their future ideas and plans.
How will we pool money to support work?
Currently we have no formal mechanisms in place to do this nor any plans to create such formal mechanisms – although they may well come with time. In the interim this will typically depend on a combination of generosity and pragmatism – and we need to recognize that it is not just money that we may be pooling to support work but also time and talents. We are not aware of any impediments to churches, at a local level, pooling resources in the furtherance of their charitable aims . Some resources may well be provided by one denomination but used ecumenically, for example the Diocesan Communications Manager will be used to a significant extent as an shared ecumenical resource and there is at least one instance where a shared ministry is being exercised by a house for duty priest of one denomination living in a house provided by a second denomination.