Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013

Diocese of Winchester

This last week I was privileged to join with 200 other Diocesan Synod members and guests at the Winchester Diocese Synod Conference at The Hayes.  God did some truly amazing things as we talked, prayed, worshiped and listened together – uniting such a diverse group of people around four priorities for the next three to five years is no small miracle.

Below are the links to all my live-blog posts from the different sessions:

Please remember all of these blogs were written live and so won’t always be 100% accurate, and may contain typos and spelling mistakes. For further information about the Diocesan Synod Conference check out the Diocese of Winchester website.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 7

Diocese of Winchester

Session 7 is entitled “Fresh Expressions” led by George Lings and Rachel Jordan.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos.

Rachel Jordan: The Missionary Challenge

We need to have a look at where we really are – like the weather girl giving a really bad weather report.  We spend so much time in church bubble, that our eyes don’t lift up to see what is happening.

Grew up in the Brethren, hearing stories of fantastic missionaries.  As a young girl thought God would send her as a missionary, and now in the middle of her life God has turned her around and said the UK is to be her mission field.

About 10% of the population regularly go to church, 2-3% are Anglicans.  Regular used to mean Covenanters, the morning meeting, running a club for friends in her grandma’s chicken shed, having done that popped back to normal church for the gospel meeting, then the after-fellowship.  That’s regular and only Sunday!  We now call regular once a month – things have changed!

If you look at the Census 59% still tick they are Christian, some are Christmas people, something they say but not sure what it means; growing percentage of no religion are predominantly more younger generations.

Luke 15 – the parable of the Lost 90 Sheep – interpretation of where we are now.  A lot of our focus and resources is focussed on the 10% who are already Christian, we seem to have failed to notice that 90% are missing.  The God who is the missionary God says we have lost the flock and isn’t it time to do something about it.  People are still called to China etc., but for many it will be to here and now to where we’ve lost a large percentage of the flock.

David Vowas was tracking religious affiliation by year of birth – no religion get bigger the younger you are.  Not a big surprise, but we do need to see something has happened, going from approx. 20% to 55%.

Tearfund did a report in 2006 on church going by age – if stopped a 60 yr old in the street and asked if ever have been part of the church community 60% would have been to church – not necessarily now but maybe as Sunday school, 40% of 40 year olds, 20% of 20 year olds.

When did you last have a meaningful conversation with someone of that age.  On a train to Coventry, speaking to a young man who had never met anyone who worked for the church, was like an alien being to him.  Never been to church, no understanding of what it was like.  Talking to someone from another world, in another language, can’t use normal words as they don’t have your vocabulary.  Sounds like Gladys Alwood and other missionaries.

At the hair dressers, how do you explain your job to them?  Go broad, work for Church of England – complete blank – the what?  Often we think we mean something to people, they have some concept about the Church of England.  A lot of people in their 20s and younger have no idea of the Church of England.  Tried to describe the Church of England!  Hadn’t heard of St. Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey!

Niece in a class of 30 asked who believe in God – 2 put their hands up.  The teacher and teaching assistant and all other children put their hand up for not believing in God.  No one believes in God – how surreal for him.  What world is he going to grow up in, and what skills am I going to equip him with to reach his generation?  Equipping them with a missionary challenge that is much bigger than our own challenge.

Often get told at Church House not to worry as we have lots of 60 year olds, and we get them all aged 60 for flower arranging rota!  Religious affiliation by decade of birth, 1983-2010 shows that people make very small changes to their religious affiliation – sticking with where they are at from their 20s.

Implications

If people belong in their 20s, they will probably stay for the rest of their lives.  But if they don’t it will be really hard to bring them back.  And unfortunately the Church of England  (and the wider church) has not done well in keeping young people.  The Black majority and Chinese churches are looking to us for answers as they are hemorrhaging their young people.

Have a Pioneer Missionary that lives in her spare room, have a community of 20 people some of whom are Christian, some post-Christian, some no faith.  14 Americans from a church of 4,000 wanted to come and look at her community.  They are beginning to lose young people and so wanted to connect and see what others are doing.  America is beginning to face what we have been facing.

Generational Decline

  • 91% of 2 non-believing parents don’t believe
  • 46% of 2 believing parents believe
  • 20% of 1 believing parent believe

Young British adults are half as religious as their parents.

George Lings – Fresh Expressions

Response rate of 98.5% from all the diocesan leads given.

How many Fresh Expressions Communities (FXC’s) and how many attend?

Know number of FXC and Churches ranging from 8.4% to 30.2%.  In attendance figures for Diocese v FXC ranges from 4.4% to 10.3%.  Some are contextual – e.g. Norwich has a high proportion of attenders but low churches because it has more rural churches which affects the maths.  We don’t know how FXC has affected policy and appointments.

AWA declined by 7% but our population we serve increased by 10%.  In all but two cases the growth from the FXC reverses the decline in these dioceses in the 6 years of previous reported figures.

Many small things but a few big ones

Planting from a large church for another church doesn’t work, need a variety of small key things.  Will have some large inherited models.  Small is not code for weak or ineffective, it is just different.

A third grow quickly to the level they will always stay at.

How often do they meett and on what day.

Average 47.5% meet weekly, 58.3% meet on a Sunday.  Monthly may be a good place ot start but not a good place to stay.

Mission Shaped Church identified from 12 types of FXC to many including Alternative Qorship, Cafe Church, Children Focussed Church, Messy Church.

The vast majority of FXC is after the publication of Mission-Shaped Church.

Inclusion and exclusion of FXC

Contextual, process in mission of which the identity is ecclesial.  Toast is a fresh expression of bread, it doesn’t help us, too often we speak of Fresh Expressions.  Hydrogen with Oxygen – Water.  Leave either out and you don’t get water.  Missional with Ecclesial – leave one out and it isn’t FXC.

What have we found

A serious level of confusion exists even at diocesan level about what counts.  How can you assess something without prior agreement of what it might not come.

Example Chelmsford

  • Arch on or from FXC: 17
  • Died: 5
  • Infrequent (less than monthly): 10
  • Not an FXC: 37
  • Duplicate Record
  • Not Yet planned not started
  • Excluded outside of 1992-2012 period

FXC – What kinds of people come?

Interviewed 1,000 leaders who gave their impressions of Christian, de-churched, and non-Churched attendees.  Asked what they aimed for and what happened.  Simple scoring system of 0-3.

  • Christian: About 70% of Christians were negligible or a minority in what was present.
  • De-Churched: ABout 85% were there as minority or majority.
  • Non-Churched: About 55% were either majority or over-riding presence.

You get more Christians at FXC then you bargain for, but many will be the team who were sent.  You don’t get as many de-churched as you want, and less non-churched than thought.  Smallest group present is still Christians, more non-churched than de-churched.  This is a notable difference from Parish life, nothing else like this in the Church of England.  Want to run this against different types of FXC and more geographical models.

What was the geographical area planted into?  

Know that Diocese look different as to where FXC meet, but not sure if this is the right proportion.  In Norwich started asking if the people attending FXC were representative of the area.  In 81% people are typical of the area.

Why start an FXC?

  • Diocesan Initiative
  • Growth Philosophy
  • Provide Increased Diversity
  • Unreached People Group
  • Inadequate Penetration of Parish
  • New Housing Opportunity
  • Physical Restriction at Mother Church
  • Other

Parish works well in area, but doesn’t allow for cultural variety and diversity.

Data shows us the same instinct – it is a way that Parish struggles to reach cultural diversity.

Neighbourhood and network

Who comes as in area, who comes because of friendship.  37% of people come because of friendship network.  Possibly over-egged in 2003 Mission-Shaped Church – network and neighbourhood matter.

A significant investment

9 dioceses have sent out 5503 people, but the return of proportions is about 250% – nothing in the Church of England manages this.

Sacraments: 21.7-48.6% have held communion 19.2-42.4% have held baptisms – but both are irregular and 42% of FXC are only three years old or younger.

Mortality Rates

5.3% mortality rate, 0 left the Church of England.  Ran a detailed look on 48 out of 497 and saw 35% took no steps towards a three self ID (self-financing, self-governing, self-reproducing).  54% of the died had celebrated communion, but of those still alive 39%.  Priority often seems to be on self-governance.

Location

Derby is the only diocese in which the majority of FXC meet in a church.  Need to listen to context.

Leadership

Ordained led FXC 48%, Ripon and Blackburn are only dioceses who have majority of ordained leading.  Lay led FXC 52%.  Lay-Lay with no real training or authorisation is 39.6%.  The furtheryou go on, the proportion of Lay led church increases.  52.8% of leaders are women, 47.2% are men.  Full-time is 48%, part-time 17.7%, spare time 37%.  Male leaders are more likely ot do it as part of a full-time role whereas women do it in their spare time.  FXC is often not ecumenical.

Theological style

FXC are not Evangelical or Evangelical-Charismatic lock-out, linking with Catholic and or Central traditions.

Conclusion

We need to understand context and culture – the skills that we have learnt back from the first missionaries, and skills we need to learn as a church.  Incarnational ministry – what Jesus did, how he birthed and developed ministry.

Now swap shoes with someone – to be a missionary you are going to have to walk in someone else’s shoes, giving up something that is precious and of value.  Lay down your culture, your way of doing things, deal with change, change footwear, or far more dramatic, as the only way Jesus could come into this world is to give up his power to rescue us.  Think of all the people we could see joining the church is we lay down our lives and try new shoes.