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.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 6

Diocese of Winchester

Session 6 is entitled “Theology of Giving – Part One” led by Peter Rouch, Phillip Cochrane and Peter Waddell.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos.

 

Truly God, Truly Me – Peter Waddell

Peter Waddell started by showing us some clips of happiness – Dolphins breeching, Nelson Mandela’s release, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon.  Fake it until you make it – don’t feel great about giving.  Bank balance looks good at the start of the month, but the mortgage, tax, water and energy companies, and then the car makes a funny noise, children aren’t into fasting and want to be fed – suddenly the number on the bank statements looks bad!

Average person gives £11.00 in the Winchester diocese in the week.  Probably giving money also elsewhere.  Michael Ramsey says: maybe you don’t really want to pray, but you can at least say you want to want to pray, or at least want to, to want, to want to give.  But a long way from that currently, it feels stressful, anxious and fearful.  So afraid of not having enough and clutch it to him.

How can I change?  How can I stop being anxious?  Peer pressure and guilt are the normal techniques to get more money but that just leads to resentment.  Jesus didn’t do guilt, so let’s start with the video clips we watched.  Think of whales leaping, Mandela walking from his cell into the sunlight, the Berlin wall tumbling down and people dancing on it, Andy Murray in the final championship point and how all those make you feel – and then you’re in the right place to start thinking about giving.

Great yes moments, getting married, swinging a grand child, hearing the birds tweet in the morning.  When everything wants you to shout, hug people for no good reason at all, just sheer unbounded joy at being alive.  William Wordsworth: “very heaven” – life like when lived close to God – vibrancy, energy, delight, love upon love – we see it in a glass darkly as we are just poor, cracked images of God.  But God is God, the one in whom there is no poverty, no cracking, simply love, joy and life.  He is the simple and eternal yes!  He is the roar of yes, which makes all things be, and raises the dead.

What would it be like for that great roar to roar through you?  What would our life look like if it was made you?  The glory of the gospel is that is not a hypothetical question, it is real, barring disaster it will happen.  The becoming is happening right now.  No matter how slow the progress, or how unreal it happens, this is coming, to make us what we were meant to always be – pure joy, pure yes.  Start thinking about your giving from there it is still difficult, frightening, but my god it is exciting, it has stopped being resentful, but joy.

Two questions to reflect on:

  • What makes your heart sing?
  • What does it mean to be in the image of God?

Truly Transformed – Peter Rouch

Christians are those who are learning on the journey we call discipleship, God’s invitation, “Be my disciple”.  Learning to give, as God gives, give themselves to one another, steady and careful listening.  Those who are learning to give rather than possess in personal relationships, learning to be good lovers, communion not satisfaction, learning to forgive, actively seek the well-being of your enemy.  Learning not to cling to possessions and money, but to use them freely.

It is the last one, the area of money, that Yahweh, our way is most incomprehensible.

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Monty Python clip is funny because it is true.  There is incomprehension between the gospel and the world.  We need to be committed to the narrative in which we live.  The world is bound to the possessions, like a shipwrecked person hanging onto a bit of drift wood, the world is doing that with possessions.

Why should we give?  Because through that journey of discipleship God will unlock your prison.  Money is not the only area in which God will challenge you, but money is as Jesus said an important area.  Rather than clinging onto driftwood let us be generous, building up the mission of Jesus.  It is the insight behind the early church – whatever you have you do not need you give to the poor, and whatever you keep you are stealing from the poor.

Does that sound like a challenging note in your heart?  Hope so, because unless you’re perfect you aren’t listening.

Most of us are struggling in this area, we have attachment addiction to the things of this world – consumerism is probably our greatest addiction.  We believe we are quite simply consumers.  Other cultures must have their own bondages.  Beginning to address this bondage is one of the most profound steps we will take.  Most of us don’t so most Christians must be living in a semi permanent state of guilt.

We need to detach ourselves from the purpose of our culture, making us consumers, happiness is the abundance of our possessions.  Be not conformed by the world, but by the renewal of your mind.  Challenging words from Paul for us.  This will have consequences – Christians will live in smaller houses, drive cheaper cars, have less jewelry, drink less gin!  Being weaned from consumerism.  We should be moving to a different beat – but the world don’t see that.  Our money is to be an expression of divine love.

Not said who we should give to.  This journey, this giving is integral to the journey, what matters is who we are becoming, communion, and the furthering mission of Jesus.  The mission does require finance and so giving should include a key element to the church.  If we believe the gospel transforms lives, then we should want to give so they can experience this.  We should not give so we have a stipendary priest, an new community centre, an expensive organ – that may or may not be the answer – that is the test of communion and mission.  It might be our money is spent elsewhere on Jesus’ mission.  The better off we are the more we should expect this to be the case.

Being an Anglican is being part of a regional, a national, a international mission.  Merely paraochial giving that seeks what our community or even worse our congregation can get out of it is not what we are called to.

In each place where the signs of God become evident we can see the Spirit at work, so resources can help develop this.  Personal giving needs balance, but it is not just to fund the organisation, it is that you may truly be who God calls you to be and God’s mission goes forward.

Truly, Madly, Deeply – The Joy of Money – Phillip Cochrane

Imagine Gareth Bale comes and gives one third of his wage i.e. £100k how would that affect your wider giving?

6 years ago a group went to Stockholm, a church on the cusp of the business and red light areas.  A guy came along who was small, an introvert, with a way in which God shone through him.  He was addicted to seven forms of God – so you can either choose life or let yourself go.  In that moment he was healed of all the drug addictions at once!  Three years had passed since then, and most of the Deacons in the church were ex-drug addicts.  Caroline Baston said: “the glory of God is a human being who is fully alive.”

That is what we are about, human beings that are fully alive, so we need to do deal with the things that get in the way.  Bishop Tom says we need to become like God reflecting things, like that man in Stockholm.  Not bringing glory to God with how we use it, but also how it benefits the mission of God.

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We have a parody in our advertising: “power to you” Vodafone, “because you’re worth it” L’ Oreal, “it’s all about you, have it your way” Burger King.  These messages disicple us, and so we need to see them as they are and address them.

Benedictine three key promises:

  • Stability
  • Obedience
  • Conversion

We need to allow ourselves to be shaped and moulded – often the last things we see converted are our wallets.  We need to embrace a bigger vision for what God wants us to become.  Becoming like Jesus.

In the process of doing this:

  • Regular: done as and when money comes in – weekly, monthly or other.
  • Reviewed: with direct debit etc. it is easy to forget to update the giving.
  • Proportional: came from a church in Northern Ireland where the giving was published – we do compare ourselves either in said or unsaid ways – maybe that church was more honest putting it in a written form – thought not the right way.  We are invited to go deeper with God and not worry about other people.  It is proportional to what has God given you.
  • Excessive: we need to be radically generous, be planned and strategic, but be spontaneous – write a cheque and think ouch later.  Showing God’s wild and reckless love.

Our giving individually and corporately we are saying something about the kingdom of God in our lives and what we make possible for the kingdom of God.

Need to know what Diocesan Synod thinks about giving and how that will affect the future of the Parish Share.  Completing a questionnaire, with discussion, and individuals sharing their own thoughts, and what most closely reflects their views.  Often don’t really agree with any position so tick which one most closely reflects.

How Do You Measure Discipleship?

Tape measure

Geoff Surratt has written a great blog post on A Tool to Measure Discipleship, which is well worth chewing over:

How do we measure discipleship? It is relatively easy to measure church attendance, giving, or small group participation, but how do we measure church members becoming more like Christ? The Willow Creek Reveal Study pointed out that church activity doesn’t necessarily lead to fully devoted follower of Christ, but are there activities we can measure to help our congregation grow?
I think there are six vital areas that point to a growing disciple:
  • Serving in a local church. Church attendance without service does not grow me as a disciple. To grow I have to serve generously with my time, talent and treasure.
  • Praying consistently. This is so obvious that it seems to get overlooked. A growing disciple follows Jesus’ pattern of consistent, heartfelt prayer.
  • Reading the Bible daily. Separate studies by the Willow Creek Association and Lifeway on discipleship came to the same conclusion; the single biggest factor in growing as a disciple is reading the Bible every day. It’s the magic pill of discipleship.
  • Engaging in biblical community. Discipleship throughout the Bible is always in context of community. Being in a small group does not guarantee discipleship, but not being in biblical community prevents it.
  • Actively involved in missional outreach. Biblical disciples engage in Kingdom transformation in their home, their community and their world.
  • Developing other disciples. Jesus final command was very clear, Go make disciples. Every growing disciple of Christ develops other disciples.
I’d like to suggest the following tool to help determine the temperature of discipleship in your congregation (and in your own life). I have used the acronym SPREAD to make the six areas easier to remember. Your church attenders may need some additional information to understand how you define each area in your context.
Create a simple survey with the following questions. Give the survey and a pen to everyone who attends one weekend, and take time during the service to fill out the survey out together.
As a growing disciple of Jesus I (circle all that apply)
  • Serve my local church generously with my time, talent and resources
  • Pray consistently
  • Read my Bible almost every day
  • Engage regularly in a biblical community (small group)
  • Actively participate in missional outreach
  • Develop other disciples
The first time you take the survey serves as a baseline for discipleship. Use the results to celebrate where the congregation is strong and to focus on helping them grow in areas where they are weak. Choose one area that seems to be weak across the board and focus for the next quarter on growing in that area as a church. Retake the survey every three months for a year to measure progress.
Be sure to let me know if you use this tool and how I can make it more effective.