Rev'd Charles - July/August 2018

posted 3 Sep 2018, 07:48 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

“What would be worse than being born blind?” 

 That’s the question Helen Keller (the American writer, 1880 – 1968, who became deaf and blind at 19 months) was once asked.  She replied “To have sight but no vision”. And she’s not alone, for in the Book of Proverbs we read ‘A people without vision will perish’ (Proverbs 29:18 AV). Surely that is why as part of the Blackburn Diocese Healthy Church self- assessment tool, there is a section entitled ‘Clear vision that gives direction to the church’s ministry and mission’. 

 “A healthy church has a clear sense of purpose and direction based on seeking to find out what God wants. The church prioritises mission, is committed to growth and focuses on doing a few things well. A healthy church is willing to self - reflect; change and adapt according to context; is committed to working towards fulfilling its vision”. So every church is encouraged by the diocese to ask themselves these 10 questions: 

  1   Do we have a strong desire and commitment for the growth of our church that informs the church’s ministry and mission?

  2   Have we used The Five Marks of Mission (to proclaim the good news of the kingdom; to teach, baptize and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service; to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth) to reflect on our values and purpose for our church?

  3   Have we involved our people in discerning what God wants our church to do and become – by holding prayer events and giving people the opportunity to join in an open discussion sessions ?

  4  Is the church vision communicated and is it understood and owned by members of the church?

  5   Is our church intentional in setting priority goals for growth that move us towards our vision?

  6   Have we ensured that we can resource our priority goals – if necessary by stopping activities that are not directly supporting our vision?

  7  Are these goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced, Timed)?

  8   Are we prepared to welcome and embrace change if change is required to make our vision a reality?

  9   Do we review progress at every PCC meeting?

10   Do we repeat he whole process at least every three years?

 Well, there’s no denying that this is a challenging task and yet whenever a Christian community is prepared to review, reflect and respond to God growth can come. After all, if there is one thing biology teaches us it is that the survival of any organism depends on its ability to change at least as quickly as the environment in which it lives. Indeed ‘It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent – but the ones most responsive to change’ (Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882). 

 That’s why the famous prayer of the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971) is something we could all say:

 “God give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed. Give us the courage to change what should be changed. Give us the wisdom to distinguish one from the other” Or in the words of the Diocesan Prayer Vision 2026 ‘Heavenly Father give us the eyes to see Your vision and so follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.’