Diocese of Winchester

Session 11 is entitled “Rule for Life – Part Two” led by Bishop Tim Dakin.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos.

Propose a motion, discuss the motion and vote on it.  The Bishop, as President, does not need a seconder!  We journey far together with those who aren’t members of Synod, so those who aren’t Synod members please do join in the conversation, but do resist voting as it is a statutory process.


A Rule for Life: Ground of Purpose, Vision and Mission

Having the ground for the purpose, the role and the mission.  Having a rule of life helps us to do anything else.  Had a rule of life, and this has been an important part of his journey through para, non and other ministries.

This Synod approves the principle of adopting a Diocesan Rule of Life, and requests the Bishop and his Staff to produce a final version for use across the parishes and communities of the diocese.

Won’t focus on what content, but on why it is so important.


A Rule for a Mission Spirituality

Attempts to provide shape and content from a Christian perspective.  David Ford, A Shape For Living, is due to be re-published again.

Steven Bevans says it is “like a reservoir tapping into the infinite life – giving, refreshing and empowering presence of God’s Spirit.”  A liberating, opening up of what life might look like.  A “Mission Spirituality is for women and men who want to grow and thrive in their identity as people who consciously participate in the mission of the triune God, moving beyond their own zones of security in terms of culture etc.” (Bevans)

Worship and prayer have to be the start of any priority or anything else, and this is where they exist.  A Rule grounds us in a prayer life with God in Christ.  It draws together our common mission heritage, expresses our common life, and resources our common purpose.  We had our own English Benedictine Movement:

  • Committed to engaging with national life
  • Committed to engagign with culture
  • Commitment to cross-cultural mission – e.g. sending Boniface to Europe.

It would be good in our diversity to find one another through our common life in this common rule.  Crossing diversity, and our understandings on how to do mission, even if we have different ways of doing it, it will still be powerful.

Resources and the purpose.  A rule of life picks up on the deep purpose of who we know we are as people living the mission of Jesus.

It is the basis for a Mission-Shaped Diocese: for its evangelization of not just here but the wider world, engagement with culture and national life, structures – we’ve got ourselves in a mess over parochial, pioneering, fresh expressions and more – we need structures that will be complimentary for one another; resourcing – Spiritual resourcing that means we are prepared to be resource people.

Three elements of Benedictine Rule of Life

  • Practices: Listening, stability, humility, hospitality, conversion, work, community;
  • Regular: weekly, monthly, yearly – going on retreat, visiting a Spiritual Director, giving your cat a holiday;
  • Relational – all the way across.


Moral Therapeutic Deism: An Evangelistic Challenge

Unless we understand what people are saying about what people believe we won’t succeed.  This is hitting the present and upcoming generations, not just an academic interest.  This is what people believe, it has penetrated the church, and wider society.

  1. God exists and creates but he doesn’t do much else.  Many will sign up to God working he exists.  Not a slam dunk to conversion – much more a deist view rather than a theist view.
  2. God wants us to be good – you can define what God is – and it is all that matters.
  3. The aim of life is to be happy – happiness is a straightforward way of talking about life – they don’t worry about the future in the same way.
  4. God is not involved in life unless necessary or needed – only when God needs to turn up for me.  Much of this is around in our churches, our conversations with each other and ourselves.  Christians need to show they want to live differently.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

St Birinus wouldn’t recognise this as a way of life.


Wide: Basic Social Theology

A rule of life is important as it helps us to understand the 3Ps are not something you do but something you are.  We are all to be passionate, pioneering and prophetic.

Understaning how we are to engage in wider life.

World of Daily Life (Spirituality): everyone can do this, to be the Christian at work, to share faith at work.  When was the last time you led someone to Christ, and how did you do it?  Questions ++Justin uses in interviewing ministers for his diocese.

Public Life & Civil Society (Community): people notice when we run food banks, when we try to change the community for the better.  We are part of the civic society and we create it. +Jonathan is beginning to link with Southampton City Council in a way that has a big affect for us.

Economics: when was the last time you heard a decent sermon on economics, the crash has such an effect, why did ++Justin tackle Wonga, not to bash them, but because it is right, and so moving pension investments makes a big different.  Politics (Citizineship): if we can’t talk about citizenship matters, what are we doing in following Jesus, we would only have half of Jesus.  The rule of life would provide a basis for this debate.


Forms of Mission & Church: The Mods, Sods and Nods

Holiding together complimentary forms of mission.  Ordained into one aspect of the church for 20 years, so coming at it from a different perspective from some others.  Want to find a way of saying yes to people as we were not planted by a parish church movement, we were planted by a mission movement, a Benedictine mission movement planted us, and that needs to be incorporated into our structures.

  • Modality: another way of tlaking about the parish, local, diverse Christian community.  The Parish movement was invented in the 7th century, in the Provincial Meeting of Canterbury.
  • Sodality: spread-out, task-focused and religious like – the Benedictine, Franciscan, Church Army are part of the church.  We need to consciously include Fresh Expressions, Pioneers into it.
  • Nodality: the reason why Anglicanism works well as have flexibility for including all kinds of variations.  Episcopal allows a bishop to say yes to many modes.  Enabling the leadership to lead the mods and sods.


Both the modal and the sodal are structures of God’s redemptive mission.  It is therefore normal and normative that the modal church has a mission.  However also, both the modal and the sodal are Church, but in legitimate different ways.  It is therefore normal and normative that the sodal mission is ecclesial.  (George Lings, Understanding Church Better).

When does a pioneer grow up, they often don’t.  We have to recognise some will always be in that sodality model.

Bishops to hold both unity in truth and mission spirituality.


A Third Archdeacon: Resourcing Mission Development

Have someone to help through the implications of resourcing our mission.  Resourcing this mission, these priorities, requires someone to think it through at a breadth but allowing people to still deliver.  Responsibility for delivery and vision – what we ask our Archdeacons to do.

Planted global anglican communion – who now at times – don’t see themselves in us.  A commitment to local and global missional church leaders.

Refounding the Wessex Benedictine Mission Movement – someone who will think through the implications of a rule of life.

Someone who co-ordinates those who are co-ordinating.  Implementing a vision for mission with strategic priorities.

Taking diocesan synods and structures seriously – residential conference, to Archdeaconry/Deanery and Parish Mission Action Plans.

Canonical and business structure for mission.

National church is supportive but says you can’t do it this way, so we look for another way of doing it.  If other people start adopting it they will change the law!

Mission Development: education, social enterprise, pioneering/FX, ministry and discipleship, world mission.

Intend to lead alternative model of episcopacy, so all three bishops will be saying, this is how we live, how we work, how we lead you, to enable you to become in Christ.


Discussion & Questions

No questions on third Archdeacon as that will come later this afternoon.  Focus on the Rule of Life.


Heard things here, that want to take to every church of every denomination in the City of Southampton, as it is of incredible significance.

How far does it role out?  Is it for everybody?

Will the final version be generic or specific, permissive; and do we have a chance to see the final rule of life before it goes life.

How inclusive or exclusive will this Rule of Life be?  What about confirmation, what about God Parents bringing children for baptism?

Is Benedictine the only model, is it possible to have a Franciscan or Ionian model.

Will it be compulsory for all with licensed ministry to sign upto?  The importance of not getting in a muddle between law and gospel.  Nice if a draft version came back to synod for approval.


Bishop Tim: Yes.  You can’t make people do things.  This is an invitation, a resource, an opportunity – people will want to ask how can I get it for me.  Like to encourage everyone to think about it.  This is a shape I find helpful and so I want to share it.  Benedectine is not the only way but most other models come under it.  Will definitely come to Diocesan Synod for approval.  Need to be clear it is grace that drives it all.


Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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