A reminder of the journey so far and the purpose behind this way of working…
Partnerships are about MISSION first and foremost. Issues around deploying ministers of word and sacraments may have focussed our thinking but the point of the Partnerships is to enable us all to better serve God in our communities. This is not merely a survival strategy, and it is for every local church in the Synod to be a part of. The Mission Strategy of the Synod, along with the wider denomination is Missional Discipleship – Walking the Way, living the life of Jesus today.
Missional Partnerships have come into being as a result of a process of prayer, reflection, consultation with Area Pastoral Committees, consultation with elderships and more widely. As these new Partnerships come into being, they will provide the place and space for Missional Discipleship to flourish.
Missional Partnerships will be about churches in the Partnership supporting each other, whilst still being rooted in the mission that takes place in their own locality and context.
This is a journey, and as the Partnerships develop each will discover their own way of working, although there will be an over-arching framework within which to grow. It is intended that structures are kept light, meetings to a minimum (and to the point!) and that Partnership work-in should be flexible.
Let’s look at a potential partnership… a number of churches are in the Partnership and they each work at relating to one another, in a variety of ways. There may be shared concerns about, for example, youth work, or work with people living with dementia, and so the key people in those areas of church life and witness may meet together to share idea and good practice. Or they may decide that enough of the congregations in the Partnership share a common interest that it is possible to have a learning day together with an outside facilitator – the kind of thing that one church would find difficult but several can share. The Mission Mentors will increasingly offer worships and learning opportunities with Mission Partnerships.
Where there is an existing pastorate in the Partnership the policy has been to try and keep those churches together, especially where there are good working relationships in place. These may have wisdom to impart to the Partnership as it sets out. Over time, pastorates will be incorporated into the Partnership as with other local congregations (A note from the Synod Clerk, the Moderator and the Synod Pastoral Committee Convenor was sent to all Ministers and Church Secretaries concerning this transition)
At the centre of the Partnership is the Steering Group, made up of a representative elder from each church and a convenor, who will be from outside the Partnership. The steering group will share the missional plans from each church and help to determine where ministry needs to be focussed. The stipendiary ministers will attend some but not all of its meetings.
Also in the centre of the Partnership is the stipendiary ministry team which is there to support mission in the churches, to work together with all the congregations and the Mission Mentors, to work with each other and to ensure that their ministry is exercised across the whole Partnership in a way which is fair and fruitful
One of the roles of the elders and the ministers will be to spot people whose talents can be grown and developed within the churches. This Anglican cartoon needs some tweaking for our purposes but gives you the idea… the ministers of word and sacraments will be one ministry among many. Many of our churches are sued to this way of working after long vacancies, some will find it more challenging but we hope that everyone will benefit from sharing the ministry of persons set aside to undertake the particular role of stipendiary minister
Insert here the details of your Area Partnerships. Any changes to the slides originally seen at the second round of Roadshows are reflected in these slides following the consultation with churches.
While we talk about all of this change, we must be aware that our commitment to Jesus and to being His church doesn’t change. The prayerful thinking behind missional partnerships is reflected in Biblical principles, so let us remind ourselves of the Church in Acts
Slides 13-15 ACTS 2:42-47
Sharing our resources of people, knowledge, stipendiary ministers and prayer we intend to work together for Mission, as Missional Disciples within Missional Partnerships.
A model of Missional working that can relate to a local church and to a Missional Partnership: it is a cycle where all the elements inform the other…
UP refers to our relationship with God, through prayer, worship, listening to one another, church meeting and bible study...from this we may discover and discern where the missional thrust of our church lies – the OUT – our relationship to the communities in which we are set, this requires us to talk and listen to one another, to work together to make things happen – the IN – the strengthening of the church as the body of Christ from recognising the gifts of others, doing the work of working together with love, calling on partner churches to share experience and both the trails and joys of undertaking a project or new way of doing worship, and more prayer – the UP again influencing the IN and the Out
There is another dimension to this model – the OF – this is particularly relevant to Missional Partnerships – we belong to each other – we are all OF our Partnership, OF the Synod, OF the URC, OF Churches Together, OF the Church universal. Locally, though, we are OF the Missional Partnership,
So every congregation works at its own mission and in its own place (UP, IN, OUT) but we are OF the Partnership –
A Toblerone church – sweet!! (You may, or may not, wish to distribute Toblerone minis at this point)
A reminder that WE are the church, wherever we are and whatever we are doing, we are ambassadors for Christ and we need the support of the whole church in order to live and to do the Gospel where we are.
And as well as all of us being ministers in our own contexts, the URC sets aside people for particular ministries and ordains them to their role. We have ordained elders and ministers of word and sacraments, and among other things they are there to “equip the saints” – that is, God’s people – for the work of ministry….
Words from Paul to the Church at Ephesus
In this new way of working, ordained ministry will be released to do this work of building up our churches and people
In order to assist us all in this adventure the Synod will be creating “New Opportunities for Ministry” in every Area of the Synod. It is anticipated that eight new posts will appear on the Moderatos list within the next several months.
…and so we need to call these ministers into the Synod. It is envisaged that the steering group will first see the candidate profile and start the call process. The convenor will act as the interim moderator. The potential minister will visit the Partnership for a full weekend of social events and preaching; the minister will lead worship on the Sunday in one or two churches of the Partnership - a number of venues can be used for these activities and this is one of the occasions when people may need to travel to a church building other than their own to share the service.
Each church meeting will vote in a closed ballot, after prayer, discussion and the discernment of God’s will, and all the votes will counted by independent tellers. The call will be determined by a united Church Meeting of the churches of the Partnership, which may be convened on several occasions. A call will be issued if 75% or more of church members who have attended and voted at the Church Meeting vote in favour of the call.
Of course, at the moment we have a number of ministers already in post. They have been called into their ministry under different circumstances and by a slightly different process. No serving minister will be coerced into working in this new way, and the Synod officers are undertaking meetings with every minister affected by the change to Missional Partnerships to discuss with them how they see their future ministry. Some will want to move to team working in the partnership, immediately or over a period of time, some will decide to continue their ministry as it is now, and we will work with everyone in the best way possible to honour the calling and ministry that they are exercising.
A very determined baby!! Let’s Do This!! We can wait and try to tie everything up neatly or we can trust God and start out on tie journey together…Let’s do it!
And all of this is because we are God’s people, called and commissioned by Him to go and tell and live the Good News of Jesus in our communities.
The Church of Christ in every age Beset by change but Spirit led, Must claim and test its heritage And keep on rising from the dead.
We have no mission but to serve in full obedience to our Lord: To care for all, without reserve, and spread his liberating Word.
Fred Pratt Green 1903-2000 Rejoice and Sing 636
Pilots works in many different situations – with children and young people who are part of the church family, and with those who aren’t. It is an opportunity for local churches to engage in mission in a meaningful way with children and young people. It is a non-uniformed organisation so costs are cheap and the synod provides excellent support through the Regional Pilots Officer, Anne Hatch.
If your church is interested in learning more about how Pilots could help you with your outreach and mission to children and young people get in touch with Anne at . She would love to come to speak to your church and run a sample Pilots session for your children and young people. There is more information online at www.pilots.org.uk
Two Sessions on Mission
Andy Braunston has devised two sessions on Mission which have already been used in three of our Synod Churches. He has put them on Powerpoint with sound files so make them easy for other churches to use.
These sessions could be used at Elders' Meetings or an Away Day for Elders (or for a whole Church away day). They are designed to be discussion starters on helping a church think about and plan its mission. The first session looks at how Christian understanding of mission has changed during our lifetimes to something less concerned about the expansion of the institution of the Church to something more based on the holistic values of the Kingdom of God. After this an Eldership would be encouraged to spend a meeting looking at some specific areas of its life it would like to work on. A second, follow up session, then helps an Eldership turn those ideas into specific goals which can be monitored over the following 2-3 years.
A group facilitator would need to have a computer with a good speaker for a small group or the use of a larger space with data projector and sound system. The Vision 2020 summary statements would be needed for the first session (available here)
These two PowerPoint shows are made freely available for any Eldership that might find them useful: