Sometimes I am surprised that the standard CofE stuff that I have to do can be pretty exciting and encouraging. Tonight I went to Deanery Synod. Deanery Synods across the nation have a bit of a reputation for being slow, tiresome and not very interesting.
Tonight was different. Tonight we were tasked with looking at a Deanery Ministry and Mission plan. Before we got onto this, though, I gave a 15 min presentation on what I have been up to as Priest Missioner for the last 18 months. As part of that I shared the Fresh Expressions sequence that distinguishes between how a fresh expression and how a traditional church plant are set up differently. The different sequence seemed to really inspire people.
I outlined how traditional church plants start with a group of people with a particular style with worship as a starting point which people are invited to; and then out of this flows community, discipleship and the mission of the group.
I then showed how with fresh expressions, such as the gathering, that worship evolves later on. The process here, which the gathering is following, has been one of discerning and following what God seems to be calling us to do, asking what loving service looks like in our setting … and doing it! From this community grows, discipleship starts to happen and worship evolves.
Tonight’s Deanery Synod seemed to get excited by this latter process … particularly with the ‘what does loving service look like here’ because they could see that this was a great place to start.
The conversation about the ministry and mission planned followed this presentation tonight, and I hope the gathering and my story has been able to help us think more laterally about mission in Gillingham. One idea was even to replicate the boot fair model we successfully trialled last year and spread it across the deanery. That would be very cool!
Tonight I was very inspired and people, my colleagues, said some very kind and encouraging things. This was a great meeting and the enthusiasm for mission that makes a real transformational difference to communities is an illustration of why I was ordained in this beautiful, infuriating, broad inclusive church.
Unexpectedly I have returned from Deanery Synod buzzing …. so no sleep yet then!