I had a great day on Tuesday doing something a little different by hopping up to London Diocese. Part of my role on the MACE team in Rochester Diocese is to help people develop Fresh Expressions of church and look at how we can birth/grow/plant church in areas of new housing.
Today I met with Dr Ian Sesnan who is the Strategic Development Manager for London Diocese along with Rev Simon Rea who is the pioneering minister at St Peters, Edgeware. Both of these great men are doing amazing things and I felt that the 2 hours with them was easily equivalent to 2 weeks of research and phonecalls. They validated stuff I have been thinking and doing for some time … such as long term incarnational ministry so that we learn the ‘language’ of the area …. but I also learnt some tips for communicating and working alongside developers.
One thing I was reminded of was that the church community has a ‘right’ to be in a place and a right to speak on behalf of those she has been serving. One thing that hit me our meeting is not that there is just a need to provide community spaces in areas of new development, but that there is also a requirement to ensure the sustainability of that community space. Because, essentially, the church will never leave and not motivated by money … the church can more or less guarantee the sustainability of this space which is desperately needed.
As a bonus Ian and Simon wanted to hear about our vision for Gillingham High Street, and they were able to offer some great insights and suggestions for a way forward. One inspired comment from Ian was something like ‘taking an interim space and presence as a first step’. Sometimes maybe I have been guilty of waiting for too many boxes to be ticked rather than simply getting a space and getting on with it!
This was a great day … it got both my thinking brain and visionary brain working again …. thanks Ian and Simon for your time … much appreciated! (Now I just need to go and write up all this enthusiasm for the diocese!)