People are also often confused about just what the actual foundations of our faith are. What does God want to show us and how do we conform to his “plan”? If we are to share in God’s mission for the world, then we need to have a firm idea of “the-story-so-far” and do our best to write ourselves into it—and help others to do the same!
Are you frustrated by the decline in church attendance and ministry participation at your parish? Perhaps you’re hearing the buzz around terms like “missional church,” “discipleship,” and “fresh expressions,” but are baffled about what those mean or how they might relate to your own parish. Or perhaps you are simply curious about whether a new perspective might help you and your parish engage differently with the gospel and with parish ministry.
In these unprecedented times, God continues to lead us in new challenges where the precedented ways of leadership are not always helpful. Yet, this changed and ever-changing world remains the object of God’s missional intentions. God’s Spirit continues to give us gifts for these ventures of faith.
We can join in God’s mission with confidence and hope. The Evangelical Lutheran Book of Worship offers this prayer for evening: “O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us.”
If you want to find out how your neighbourhood is changing, don’t walk into a church: walk into a store. What can you buy now that would have seemed totally exotic twenty years ago? What did you enjoy back then that seems for some reason to have disappeared from the shelves? And why have these things changed? Church, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have changed to the same extent. Have you ever wondered why the church is one to two decades behind its context or why many congregations look like relics of the past, not representative of the present and certainly not heralds of the future?
How to Start a Cafechurch is an opportunity to reimagine what church can be in a culture where cafes are commonplace. What cafechurch principles could shape our approaches to the way we do church? What tools do we need to make real connections with our communities?
We do not have to look far to find churches that are no longer the thriving congregations they once were. This can cause us great heartache. We can feel discouraged by the declining church engagement we see around us, and many of us long to find those ways to “fix” what seems to be an inevitable decline. Perhaps, as we seek these “fixes,” we find ourselves reading about “missional” churches or expressions. We may be inspired by creative initiatives and church plants. We see the possibilities of these new missional opportunities.
Stewardship is our faithful response to the mission of God. We can join in God’s mission with confidence and hope as stewards of God’s abundant gifts and invite others into that stewardship. What is God calling us to as individuals, as a parish, and as a diocese? We know there is a culture shift happening in the church, and the pandemic seems to have expedited this shift. Stewardship practices have also been shifting during this culture change. What does remain the same is that stewardship is discipleship: it calls us to live all aspects of our life in the light of faith in Jesus.
God has a mission and invites Christian disciples to participate in God’s own life and work. Christian formation is all about being formed in this life and for this work. It is not a self-improvement project or self-help scheme. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in Christian community.
The Missional Church Conversation has something to say about how we engage in faith formation. Rooted in our understanding of the missio Dei, not only do we understand that mission belongs first to God, but if we are to participate in God’s mission, we should be formed to do so in God’s ways. Christian formation is then an intentional, communal process of growing in our relationship with God and being conformed to Christ through the power of the Spirit for the sake of the world. In this course we will explore these patterns of intentionality and how we might encourage the formation of such faith over time.
Through prayer, creativity, and reflection participants will be encouraged to be innovative partners on the creative edge of where the Spirit of God is recreating the church and what it means to be a “Missional Church” while keeping the history of Indigenous Peoples in mind. The history of Indigenous Peoples is one important element of the work we do going forward.
Creating a parish mission action plan is about intentional listening for the Spirit, prayer, engagement with parishioners, and a willingness to risk a bit. The plan, which is completed in four one-hour gatherings, is comprised of two to three initiatives in three areas: Adult Faith Formation, Changing Parish Culture, and Community Engagement. Leaders for each initiative arise from those passionate about the ideas. And once you’ve done the process once, you can easily repeat it when you’ve completed the initial projects.