Rev'd Charles - May 2018

posted 29 May 2018, 23:48 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

Aim for nothing – and you’ll be sure to hit it! 

 So runs an old adage.  And if that’s true then it may explain why so many businesses and organisations have a strategy for growth because they know that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And spring provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at all that we are doing before planning for the future. 

 Now back in the 1990’s the Church of England and, in particular, the Diocese of London began to realize that something also had to be done if church congregations were to develop and survive. This was the inspiration and motivation for MAP – Mission Action Planning – a way of helping churches discover a vision for their church and then discern how that vision could be translated into reality. 

 In 2016 the Archdeacon of Blackburn’s book ‘How to do Mission Action Planning’ was reissued, having been revised and expanded from the original version of 2009. In support of this the Blackburn Diocese produced a ‘Healthy Church Self-Assessment Tool’ which encourages churches to assess their health against 6 qualities that research has shown are fundamental to church health and growth. The first category is one of the most challenging: 

“Inspiring worship and dynamic prayer that connects and engages” 

 ‘A healthy church offers worship that inspires, encourages and builds people up in the Christian faith. The worship has depth, richness and connects with people helping them encounter God. A healthy church has a deep- rooted active commitment to prayer that is demonstrated in every area of its life.’ 

 The book then encourages every church to consider the following questions: 

 Does our regular worship draw people of all ages into the presence of God?

Do we review the pattern and delivery of our worship on a regular basis to keep it fresh and transformational?

Is our liturgy accessible and easy to follow? Does it draw in and engage those who may have never worshipped in a church before?

Does our music style and choice engage with people of all ages?

Is our worship child-friendly with appropriate safeguarding in place?

Is there a clear teaching programme based on Scripture?

Does prayer play a central part in the life of the church?

Is the vision of the church and its mission priorities a focus for the prayer life of our church?

Do we challenge and equip people to make regular time for personal prayer and Bible reading?

Do our sermons teach about and explore the questions that people in our church are commonly asking? 

 ‘The health assessment will indicate areas of church life that are strong and healthy and should be celebrated and also identify areas that need development’. 

 But why is this so important? Well the Diocesan Vision Statement 2026 has as its aim ‘Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’. Therefore, worship that is inspiring and prayer that connects and engages will better enable us to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ, be Witnesses to Jesus Christ and Grow Leaders for Jesus Christ. So as we look ahead in to the future can we pray the words of the Diocesan Prayer: 

 ‘Heavenly father, we embrace Your call for us to make disciples, to be witnesses and to grow leaders.

Give us the eyes to see Your vision, ears to hear the prompting of Your Spirit and courage to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.’