Ministers and members of the Missional Partnership Steering Groups met on Zoom to explore the Sheffield Team Ministry model as part of a conversation about Missional Partnerships. Missional Partnerships were envisaged as a way of increasing the total provision of ministry to the churches. The Steering Groups would work to deploy ordained ministry strategically in ways that matched the gifts of the ministers with the needs of the churches.
Video link https://youtu.be/ofAwiJPecqk
In this way, ministers could expect to exercise the specific gifts for which they were called and ordained to the Ministry of Word & Sacraments within the URC, rather than having to become “ experts” in an ever-increasing list of administrative responsibilities. The corollary is that lay people would similarly work actively to discover their gifts and be challenged to put them at the disposal of the Partnership.
It is a vision of the ministry of the whole People of God, called and resourced by their ongoing journey of discipleship and focussed on participation in God’s mission to transform the world into the Kingdom of God. The vision was, through the Partnerships, to grow “Jesus-shaped churches, full of Jesus-shaped people, making a Jesus-shaped difference to the lives of the members and communities”.
The Yorkshire Synod has operated a similar model very successfully in the city of Sheffield since 2014. Two of the ministerial team tell that story in the video. As you’ll hear, the ministers’ experience is that they have been freed up to focus on the gifts at the heart of their ministerial calling, while the churches have experienced more ministry as a result, not less and less. It was interesting to discover that neither group would go back to the “old” model!
The purpose of the conversation is not to adopt the Sheffield model in the Synod, but to hear from another part of the church what their experience has been, and to ask what we might want to take from that as we continue our journey of discipleship in this Synod through Missional Partnerships. Participants were asked to identify three aspects of the Sheffield model that they’d like to build into Partnerships, and three values they’d like to embed. You can see those in the word clouds (the size of the text indicates the number of votes received).
The evening was designed specifically to feed into workmen the Missional Partnership Steering Groups, as well as the Facilitation Group Consultation (see Elizabeth Gray-King’s letter at https://nwsynod.org.uk/2021/11/09/facilitation-group-consultation/). The aspects and values that we identified have been alreadysent to the group. As you listen and reflect, why not send your own ideas, observations and comments to your Steering Group rep, and copy them to the Facilitation Group? You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our thanks go to Revd Jamie Kissack (Moderator of the Yorkshire Synod) and the Revds Zadie Orr and Barry Welch for giving so generously and honestly of their time and experiences.