Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Mission & Ministry - starting from discipleship

I’ve written previously that over the last year I’ve been involved in a diocesan initiative called Missional Leadership for Growth. The intention is that all the clergy of our Diocese of Durham should take the course - not only to try to enable clergy in “Missional Leadership” but also with the idea that we should then infect our churches. And hopefully that will lead to growth in our congregations - not just so that we can survive, but so that we can flourish as followers of Christ, be deepened in our faith and be able to share that faith with those around us.

So far I’ve had a whole day meeting with members of my “cohort” (we’re divided up in groups and I’m in Cohort 3 out of probably 6 or 7); and then two residential courses, each of five days. Next there’s a day meeting in February - but not only for the clergy… We’ll each be going with three or four parishioners with whom it’s hoped we’ll continue to think about what mission means. In fact not only think, but also do something about it.

Our little group in this parish has been rather late getting off the ground, but we have been talking more widely about what “mission” means for us - especially in our PCC (Parochial Church Council). And we are starting to plan, building on our hopes for a Mission Project linked to the period between Ascension Day and Pentecost (10-20 May) when our Archbishops ask us to engage in prayer on the theme, “Thy Kingdom Come.”

There’s more planning to do. But what we do recognise now is that if we are going to reach out to others with the Good News of Christ and the message of his Kingdom, then we need to start by looking at ourselves. And that means to ask what are we doing about our own discipleship? Not to beat ourselves up about our failings, but to see how we can grow as followers of Jesus. As our Bishop of Durham says, disciples are lovers of Jesus - and need to know they are loved by Jesus. What does that mean for us? - for me?

Lent is a good time to explore these questions. There are a number of ways we can do that - in particular through our Lent Course (see page 3 of our Parish Magazine) and by special opportunities for prayer. Join us!                               
Martin Jackson

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