Mission Shaped Ministry Course

With the launch of the new ministry of lay pioneers within the Diocese of Southwark it is even more important to support and encourage pioneering and to develop not only pioneers but teams around them and churches and teams around the Diocese. One of the key ways that we do this is through the Mission Shaped Ministry Course.

The Mission Shaped Ministry Course is a one year course aimed at helping churches to be missional in creative and imaginative ways. This course will help churches to reach out beyond their natural fringe and to serve their communities and look to form new ways of being church. It will also help churches who might not be looking to fresh expressions of Church but want to explore new or different ways of mission.

In the course we have a variety of inspirational people who will be sharing their stories and their learning. There will be lots of time to reflect on where you are and where your church is and some of the steps that you might take to effectively reach those outside of the Church. Sessions can include videos, interactive times and questions, group work as well as sharing your own story, challenges and opportunities.

Participants may be at any stage – just starting to think about things, planning your first steps, wondering what to do next, planning a new community. The course is a great opportunity to learn.

Although you are welcome to come as an individual our experience has been that coming with a group from your church or mission activity have been the most fruitful. Coming in a team ensures that you can discover new ideas together, reflect with those in your situation and plan how you might start new things.

Key areas that we look at include contextual mission (i.e. what does the mission of God look like where I live and minister), gospel and culture, listening for mission and starting something new.

We are holding the next course at Christ Church, Brighton Rd, Purley, Surrey CR8 2BN. It is near to Purley Station (with good rail connections) and the A23. Dates for the course in 2020 are:

  • Saturday 18 January
  • Tuesday 11 February
  • Tuesday 10 March
  • Tuesday 21 April
  • Weekend Away 15-17 May
  • Tuesday 9 June
  • Tuesday 7 July
  • Saturday 12 September
  • Tuesday 13 October
  • Saturday 7 November

Saturdays run from 10am-4pm and Tuesdays are from 19.30-21.30

The Weekend away is being held at The Oasts, Tufton Lane, Northiam, East Sussex TN31 6HL

The costs for the course are £300 for up to three people from a parish in Southwark Diocese (if 3 people come then it works out at £100 per person). After the first three people it is £100 per person. If you are not part of Southwark Diocese the cost is £300 oer person.

For more information please contact Will Cookson at will.cookson@southwark.anglican.org or 0207 7939 9417

Lay Pioneers

On Saturday 14 September, at the Croydon Lay Conference, Bishop Christopher will be commissioning our first three Lay Pioneers for the Diocese of Southwark. Lay Pioneers are an exiting new ministry that will sit alongside other lay ministries in the Diocese and will help us in encouraging new ways to reach new people with the good news of Jesus Christ. As the Church of England helpfully says:

Pioneers are people called by God who are the first to see and creatively respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiatives with those outside the church; gathering others around them as they seek to establish new contextual Christian community.

As the work of the new Pioneering Ministry and Fresh Expressions department develops within the Diocese of Southwark we have started looking at this whole exciting area of Lay Pioneers and these first three are, we hope and pray, the first of many more.

Lay Pioneers will play a significant role in helping the Church to experiment and to take risks in reaching others with the love of Christ. Their primary focus will be to reach those outside of the Church. Their pioneering spirit often leads them to work with those most in need and in deprived communities. Of the three being commissioned this time round one is working with an estate community in Redhill; one is working with Japanese people who have had little or no contact with Christians and one is working with those who see themselves as being spiritual but not religious.

With the setting up of the Diocesan Lay Council this autumn we hope to create a range of options for lay people to explore in regards to Pioneer selection and training. As a first step we now have available the opportunity to explore the calling to a Commissioned Lay Pioneer. This is suitable for those who wish to explore a calling to Pioneering but may not yet have much experience or they may be part of a fresh expression of Church in their local context and would like some more training, support and recognition. Over time we hope that we will also be able to recognise those who may have been leading a fresh expression of Church for a period of time (or who lead more than one) and would like to go deeper with their exploration into fresh expressions and pioneering. We hope that to these people we will be able to offer the role of Licensed Lay Pioneer.

We already have a wide range of fresh expressions of Church in the Diocese from new monastic communities to cafe church and messy church through to communities who regard themselves as Spiritual and not Religious. We hope and pray that with an increase in lay pioneers we can see this range grow and deepen and the mission and evangelistic impact of the Church grow within the Diocese.

If you, or someone you know, believes that they may have a calling to pioneering within the Diocese then we would love to hear from you. You can either have an informal chat with Will Cookson, Dean of Fresh Expressions and Director of Pioneering Ministry or book into a Vocations Fair – Southwarkvocations.eventbrite.com.

Fresh Expressions Update

It has been an exciting time for Fresh Expressions over the past year in Southwark Diocese. We have seen a significant change in tempo in regard to them and we now have a good feel for how many fresh expressions of Church we have across the Diocese and some great initiatives to encourage more.

When we had the Church Army do a survey in 2015 as to the number of fresh expressions of Church we found that we had 39 across the Diocese. As more churches have been exploring new ways of reaching more people with the Good news of Christ we have seen more initiatives across the Diocese.

Fig 1: Growth in fresh expressions in Southwark Diocese

What is encouraging about the above diagramme is not only that the number of fresh expressions of Church has grown to 99 from 39 but that there are many other initiatives which are incredibly valuable (a “Bridge” is a ministry that aims to feed into existing services, an “Internal ministry” is a ministry of care for existing members and the “Not yet fxc” has the possibility of becoming a fresh expression but it may not meet regularly enough or is still exploring how it might become missional).

In addition we have seen a wide range of types of fresh expressions – everything from church grafts and church plants through to Messy Church, New Monastic Communities etc

Lastly, it has been wonderful to see fresh expressions adopted across the wide range of traditions in the Diocese of Southwark. Of course, this means (as it should) that each tradition brings its own insights into their fresh expressions. This is important as fresh expressions are meant to be imaginative and to draw on the roots of each of our traditions and not to create clones.

One of the key areas that we have been focussed on is building a platform from which churches across the Diocese and the different traditions can grow fresh expressions in their context. This has taken a variety of approaches to enable us to do this.

The first is through using the Pioneer Spectrum to help us in looking at what God is calling us to in this particular time and place and with these conditions and people and resources available. This has given us a top level view of what it is that is being attempted. It is a useful tool to enable churches to have a shared vision of what they wish to achieve.

The second area is through the increasing use of Pioneers in the Diocese. This is a multi-pronged approach. In the first phase we have focussed on ordained Pioneers with the appointment of our first Pioneer Curate (and a further two per year) and the use of Strategic Fund money from the Church Commissioners. We are also looking how this can be expanded further. The second phase, which we very much hope will be coming shortly, will be looking at Lay Pioneers who we expect in the long term to be vital for Pioneering within the Diocese.

The third area is through the increasing use of Action Learning Groups. These are groups of practitioners focussed on a particular area (e.g. Estates or Missional Communities) who commit to try new things, to be open and accountable to one another. Over time we hope that more and more will be formed and that they will share their learning with others around the Diocese. We already have two that are about to happen – one about ministry on estates – Sowing in Concrete on the 21st March and one looking at disabilities – Dementia Friendly Church on the 28th March. Both are free and click the links to see and book to come.

Lastly, we continue to offer our baseline Mission Shaped Ministry course to help churches to begin to grapple with how they can make a difference in their community.

Mission to and with the ‘Spiritual Not Religious’ a dialogical approach

Whether we like it or not national social surveys appear to indicate that many of the ‘non-and-de-churched’ people now call themselves “spiritual” but not religious (SNR). About a fifth of people in the UK fit into this category, according to Prof Michael King from University College London.[1]

The challenge then is how to respond to these missional needs in culturally appropriate ways, a matter I am researching as part of a PhD research study.  As part of this, and also to develop mission to the ‘Spiritual Not Religious’ we have been piloting a dialogical approach which we have called ‘SearchingSoul’ and used the popular MeetUp App to promote 4 groups in various parts of London.[2]

These groups are designed as generous spaces to allow people to explore spirituality on a monthly theme, where everyone has space to talk about their insights and experience, as many spiritual seekers like the opportunity to explore and engage with the issue of spirituality.  We are careful to ensure that there are no Christians present other than the facilitators, to ensure that the event gives space for the SNR to really open up and build trust.  Typically SNR people begin with a negative stereotype that religion and in particular Christianity is a form of fundamentalism and thought control.   We have been running the groups now for over a year, and in time people break down these negative stereotypes, and as we know from the Fresh Expressions initiative, all mission must be deeply relational and begins with building up relationships of integrity.  We now have groups in Peckham, Borough, Kingston and the City that meet in pubs and bars and we are looking to set up new groups in the Diocese.  So far a few have gone on to explore Christianity – taking a particularly contemplative spiritual practices approach to exploring the faith.

This whole approach is about mission being Gods, and for us getting out of the way of God and seeking to catch up with what God is doing, in the belief that the Holy Spirit is constantly unsettling every person to the reality of God the Trinity in the face of Jesus Christ. f you are interested in getting a SearchingSoul group going in your locality get in contact mailto:ian.mobsby@southwark.anglican.org or facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/579336342436523/

Ian Mobsby , Woolwich Area Mission Enabler


[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20888141

[2] For example https://www.meetup.com/SearchingSoul-Vauxhall-Borough/

The changing nature of Timperley Church

“We want them to meet Jesus!”

This is not our vision statement, but it wouldn’t be a bad one for Timperley Church Redhill (TCR).  From it’s genesis, this has been our driving force.  Not to get people into “church” though that would be nice, but to create opportunities for people to meet Jesus, through His holy and life giving Spirit, by His Word.

The problem is, how do we do that?  How does the amazing message of the Gospel get behind the closed doors?  How is our proclamation heard when the streets are empty?  How do we share God’s love with the people we meet when there is no marketplace?  For TCR this last question is key, but we’ll come back to that.

First things

Let me introduce myself, my name is Aneal Appadoo and I am a curate in my fourth year of ordained ministry at Holy Trinity (HT) Church in Redhill, Surrey.  As part of my role I have the great privilege of leading a fresh expression congregational plant (TCR) down on the Timperley Gardens estate, located about 10 mins walk from the church, and in what follows I am going to give you a rough overview of the life of our plant, to give a bit of a case study to how a fresh expression of church might come into being, under three brief headings, Seeking, Finding, and Serving.

Seeking

Generally our church and parish feature well in most census and deprivation indexes, we are not a wealthy parish by any means, but we are not necessarily poor, however, there are a couple of pockets within our parish which are among the more deprived in Surrey, one of which is the Timperley Gardens estate

Going way back to before 2001, our PCC had a great heart for this area of our parish, and asked how we could best minister to this area of our parish, forming part of parish profile at the time.  Members of the congregation had been prayer walking around the estate, intentionally asking God what they should do there, feeling a burden for the people of the estate.

Under a new vicar, a curate joined the church in 2002, and, along with a large number of volunteers from the church knocked on every door around the estate with a survey, asking the residents how long they had lived here, what they liked about it – what was good, what could be better, and what the local church might do for them.  They also offered a Jesus video to anyone who wanted one – so the survey sought to understand both social, and spiritual needs.

These questionnaires were collated and interrogated, and they revealed that predominantly the estate had two main demographics: 1. An ageing population who felt isolated and had poor mobility; 2. A great number of young families, with a high number of young mothers.  It also flagged up that the residents felt there was no community space on the estate.

The church investigated this and found that in the heart of the estate, there was a scout hut that had little contact with the estate itself – and after positive conversations with the scouts, this became the hub for what HT would do.

Finding

Having established what the needs of this community might be, HT began initially by pulling together a team that started with a coffee morning with board games and a soft toy area.  The hope was that this might meet all three needs – serving the elderly, and young families in a community space.  In reality though, this service was only taken up by the elderly who really enjoyed it, it was a wonderful service into the community, but it wasn’t church.

Serving

Over the years a new curate joined HT who invested a great deal of time into the estate.  Under her leadership an Under 5’s group was started in 2007, with a Saturday service, Timperley Family Church, starting a little later that year.  This was a model of “café” style church that sought to be accessible to the people of the estate.

Under the next curate they sought to engage with a great number of young people that congregated around the estate, and so started a youth club.  But as one ministry starts, sadly another ends, and the coffee morning was soon stopped.  Also, they began an annual summer party around this time, to be a blessing to the community.

Around 2014 the service moved to a Sunday, and midweek social evening outreach service was also started up.

“We want them to meet Jesus?”

I began to lead the team around September 2015, and a big part of my role has been to think through how the church, now called Timperley Church Redhill (TCR), serves the community it is in now.  How do we get them to meet Jesus?

My focus initially was on discipling those who come to the church from the estate, so I changed the look and feel of the service and brought the bible teaching to the forefront – with discussions after the teaching and small group prayer.  This was a change from the more child focused service we had become due to who God was sending us at the time.  We have undertaken 1:1 bible studies, and our first evangelistic course.

Around early 2017 we noticed a large decline in numbers as key families moved away, and people lost the vision for the plant, or perhaps in truth, we became a little vision-less.  After some analysis and reflection, I came to see, that for the last few years TCR had failed to attract, and them retain people who were coming on a Sunday morning.  The loss of key families was hurting us, but almost everyone who was coming at the time was also worshipping at another church.  We actually had very few indigenous members.

This brings us back to our initial findings of that first survey, and the lack of a community space on the estate.  Looking at the growth of the early church in the bible, it was often the strategy that the apostles would go to the busy centres of life where the people gathered,  starting with the synagogues, and then the market place.  They would then proclaim the gospel and perform miracles, before gathering as church with those who the Lord was adding to their number.  So where is the market place within which we can proclaim?

In short, there isn’t one.  We’d played with Facebook, played with our Sunday service, offered bacon sandwiches, all the time trying to get people into church.  But in the summer of 2017 we changed our methods.  With the help of a diocesan mission grant we had a year of events – quiz nights, family movies, pray spaces – all geared around creating that market place where we could come into contact with the community, and introduce them to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  And our numbers have been good, with over 160 people joining us for our annual summer party, up to 50 coming along for a family movie, 60 at a community lunch, and 4 ladies joining a recent cookery course initiative.

In addition to this, through another mission grant we have been able to appoint a part time Community Outreach Worker for the next few years, whose job is simply to have coffee with people and share Jesus.  This post-holder, Jan, actually has been a core member of TCR since its inception, and has made a great start in her first few months.

TCR on Sundays no longer meets the needs of the estate, and so again we have spent a long time in prayer and discussion, and listening to people living on the estate, trying to understand what God would have us do next.  And it seems good to us to begin a new monthly “messy church-esque” service on a midweek afternoon.  We are confident that this is where God is currently leading us.  In addition, 3 of the women we have been reaching over the last 3 years are moving ever closer to the centre of church life, to a point where we are hoping to be able to more closely disciple them.

There is much more we have done, including a children’s bible study, children’s camps, helping a member of our church with her benefits, and so on.

I guess the key thing to say through all of this, is that the church has constantly re-evaluated what it is doing, working hard to think through how we interact with the community God has called us to live amongst. Listening to people who live in the community is key.

We have constantly wrestled with how we live out what means to be like Paul, when he says that he was “a Greek to the Greeks” – and actually this involves great pain, toil and sacrifice.  Letting go of the things we’d like to do, how we’d rather spend our Sunday’s or midweek evenings – so that we can minister the Gospel to those who live on the estate, so that we can proclaim the love of God, through his Son, by His Spirit to every resident.

It’s hard work, and we would greatly value your prayers, but it’s also such a joyful privilege!  I would strongly encourage each of you to think this through in your own church context, and hope what I have said might help you in that.

Rev. Aneal Appadoo

Sacred Space, Kingston

Andrea’s mission work in Kingston grew out of listening – both to God and to the prevailing culture of her surroundings. She was an elder in an independent, charismatic evangelical church, and felt called to be a leader – but she wasn’t sure what exactly God had in mind for her. A catalyst came in the form of a phone call from a friend who had had a spiritual experience and sought Andrea’s help in interpreting what she had felt. Although she took the time to discuss the experience and God’s work, Andrea felt that she had failed to engage her friend’s interest to the extent that she might want to further explore faith.

As a result of that conversation and her feelings about it afterwards, Andrea became aware of local interest in spirituality – both in pop culture and conversations with friends, certain topics kept coming up: mediums and tarot readers; acupuncture; yoga; séances; using a Ouija board. She had been warned against ‘occult’ activities, but wondered whether interest in these ideas could be used as a way to talk about Christian spirituality. She also discovered that a group called Eden People in nearby Guildford had started attending New Age fairs, and offering prayer for those in attendance. Andrea felt called to do something similar in Kingston and booked a pitch at Kingston Green Fair, joining forces with another church that was also keen to have a presence. Andrea says, “Some Christians I mentioned it to were very wary, but I felt God confirmed to me at every step that I was in the right place and doing what was required of me… we were overwhelmed with the number of people who wanted to talk to us and receive prayer.”

At the fair, people came to Andrea with stories of Jesus appearing in dreams and visions, to bring healing and freedom. It was a wonderful privilege to minister to people in this way, but she also felt frustrated that these amazing one-off encounters weren’t going any further: “I had no idea how we might create a means to facilitate on-going discipleship and was unsure about inviting the people I was meeting to a regular church service.” Following talks with her partners, she formed Sacred Space Kingston to address this need. Sacred Space put on arts workshops and exhibitions in the hope that art would help to encourage ideas infused with the sacred and offer potential for encountering the divine. Andrea also looked for ways to build longer-lasting relationships with those outside the usual orbit of the church; she started a book group, and wrote and ran a meditation course at the YMCA as part of their health and fitness programme.

Throughout this period, Andrea remained an elder and continued to regularly attend meetings at her church, but she was finding it increasingly difficult to integrate her experiences of God in mission with what was being articulated at church. She eventually decided to leave the church and set up a Bible study and prayer group on a nearby housing estate; she supported the unchurched people who attended to become Christians, and watched them grow in their newfound faith.

Andrea’s hope was that the new Christians would be discipled by those who had been in church and left at the same time she did; sadly, this did not happen as envisioned due to a clash of culture between the churched and new Christians. Despite this, Sacred Space continued to develop a rhythm of life, and now up to twelve people meet on a monthly basis for a home group session where they discuss themes arising from the Bible and other Christian writings. The group also shares a regular community meal and goes on outings to further the members’ shared interest in the arts and spirituality.

Members are encouraged to explore and fulfil their vocations, and to disciple others – one woman had the idea of establishing a town centre chaplaincy; this was successful and she now oversees its running and development, as well as being an elder in another church. Andrea says, “For us in Sacred Space, mission is the ultimate expression of God’s love in creation, and our relationships have a positive outward expression in the locality where we live and work.”

At Sacred Space, love for God and for one another extends beyond the group to make a difference in the wider community. They offer hospitality to people that not everyone in the group knows; their community meals are a way to ensure that everyone is included. Andrea says that, “because friendship and a desire to be good news in our locality are more important to us than belief, Sacred Space is a network of relationships that has indeterminate edges. This creates the freedom for people to question their faith and decide they no longer want to call themselves a Christian, but they may still continue to walk with us as friends.” Other members are part of other, more traditional churches, but still get something valuable and distinct from their participation at Sacred Space. Because of this intentional flexibility, Sacred Space can feel messy and is not easily defined; Andrea is now looking to formalise the group and shift to a team leadership, possibly by way of a Bishop’s Mission Order.

Andrea knows that any one fresh expression won’t cater to everyone’s needs: “rather than seeking to bring everyone into the Sacred Space missional community, I would love to see indigenous expressions of church emerge in the other sub-cultures where we have a presence and are doing outreach.” As she discovered the hard way, trying to integrate a self-contained group of new Christians with people who had come from a particular style of church – and had therefore established a specific, separate culture – was just not possible. She has brought this knowledge to her current project, working with Christians who are part of the steampunk subculture: Andrea has been clear with her friends in this subculture that they should not bring those interested in exploring Christianity to Sacred Space, but instead to think about how they might disciple people as steampunks, and see what indigenous expression of church evolves.

She says, “I recognise we have as much to learn and as many rough edges to be rubbed smooth by relationship as anyone else. If discipleship is a two-way process both Sacred Space and an emerging expression of church for steampunks, for example, will be moulded by God through our ongoing interaction and conversation. They need to be free to develop as the Holy Spirit leads them and at the same time remain part of us through relationship. Thus, we model the unity in diversity of the Trinity in microcosm in the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames.

http://sacredspacekingston.com

Blended 2018

Ely Diocese are holding this year’s national Fresh Expressions conference at Ely Cathedral on Saturday 3rd November.

Each year these events have become more adventurous and this year is no exception. Ely Diocese are aiming to have an immersive feel to the conference. The most exciting part looks to be the Side Stage sessions with Live experience sessions on New Monasticism, Forest Church, Campfire Communion, Sweaty Church where after experiencing what one would be like there will be opportunities for discussion. There is also a stream called Pioneer Labs helping people to identify what sort of pioneering that they may be called to (one of Blended, Pioneer, Discipleship & Evangelism). A third stream of “Campfire conversations” will allow people to hear and share stories around themes such as Wild baking and Storytelling, New Housing, Arts, Youth, Managing Risks and Failure, Accessibility.

Meanwhile on the Mainstage there will be multiple conversations using the six stages of the fresh expressions lifecycle to pick up key pioneer issues. These will include two Bishops Vlogs on Being Blended and Blended Beacons.

For full details hop over to Eventbrite and book your tickets for what looks like a brilliant day: Blended Festival