St Peter’s and “Shaped by God”

God shapes his people like a potter shapes clay (Jeremiah 18). The Bishop of Leicester has pointed out that the Church of England is being shaped – uncomfortably – by what’s happening at the moment. The culture in Western Europe is becoming more and more distant from its Christian roots, so that the Church is more and more on the edge. There are fewer clergy to appoint to parishes, and less money to pay them – so gradually parishes are being grouped together, and the stress on clergy is growing.

We can give up in despair, or pretend it isn’t happening – or we can face up to it and see God’s hand in it. The Bishop is leading us to the last option, and the Leicester Diocesan Synod voted unanimously (in July 2005) to start a process called “Shaped by God”, to adapt ourselves to the new situation.

1) We need to become a missionary church – dedicated not just to keeping the show on the road, but to sharing in God’s work of renewing people and communities. For many of us (including St Peter’s) that needs a whole change of the way we think. We have been asked to think through our capacity for mission, by doing a Mission Audit. Then we’ve had to look ahead with a Mission Action Plan, a set of priorities that will steer us on our missionary journey.

2) We need to support each other by working more closely together – not just giving fewer clergy more to do, but releasing ordinary members of churches to play their part, and enabling clergy to work together instead of in isolation. Churches are being asked to talk to each other and eventually to form Mission Partnerships, groups of churches that can share their ministers, resources and gifts. (We are already in a cluster, and are exploring possible new members to join us in a Mission Partnership.)

We did the Mission Audit in January and February 2006 and completed the report in March. We felt we were engaged with the community and committed to inspiring and renewing worship – less good on nurture of each other and our children, and weakest on sharing our faith. You can download the Mission Audit report as a pdf file.

The Mission Action Plan, started in the summer, is still work in progress. Our main mission priorities are:

  • empowering our people
  • making new disciples
  • serving the community

Along with these are basic tasks that feed the mission:

  • worship that renews us
  • prayer that goes deep
  • responsible maintenance of our buildings and organisations, not for their own sake but to serve God’s kingdom.

Since the PCC (Parochial Church Council) adopted the Plan in July, we’ve started detailed work on the priorities. One task has been setting up this website, to share information (empowering) and to show something of the Christian message behind what we do (making new disciples). Other task groups are working on social events together, reviewing our worship, a new worship style for those who aren’t used to church… and fundraising for the leaking church roof! In a year’s time we may well be in a Mission Partnership with 3 or 4 other churches nearby – what will they offer us, and what can we offer them? Watch this space!

Chris Burch

This entry is dated Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 at 9.42pm and is filed under News.

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