Well yesterday we had a wonderful leaders away day – although technically we did have an open invitation to anyone in the church who had a vision for reaching out into our community.
I have to say that Springfield does have a great set of people.
We had over 40 people there engaging with how we can impact our community more. It was also lovely to have our curate-to-be Donna join us for the day as well as Nigel Hallett who we support overseas.
The first part of the day was looking and reflecting on our new cafe congregation that we planted last October. There was a general recognition how great and exciting it has been. Two of the key leaders Sue and Jean gave a presentation about it and how it has gone. They talked about how we had a vision to work on Roundshaw but how that had been unavailable to us for so many years and then how God flung open wide the doors with the invitation of the Vicar of St Michael’s and St Paul’s, Angela Gbebikan.
One of their emphases was ensuring that we keep a focus on the overall unity of Springfield.
People then split into groups to discuss the impact that it has had both in the community and within Springfield as well as what we could learn if we planted a new congregation in the future!
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive about the new congregation and the process that we went through. One or two would have liked longer but I think that we had a good balance between discerning and launching. Of course, if we did plant a new congregation in the future the key is always leadership.
The rest of the day was spent in looking at ways in which we could impact our communities. We already have a number of community activities – a parent and toddler group, a monthly messy church and an english conversation class but we want to do more! We recognised that more people are in need and that many people in Springfield have ideas and passions about ways that we can help.
We started off by looking at the whole idea of River ministries – ministries that occur in the community and are not centrally controlled or directed. There is a description of River and Lake ministries on the Springfield website.
We looked at how the early church engaged with the communities that it worked amongst. In particular we looked at Matthew 10, Acts 8 and Acts 16. The first is where Jesus sends out his disciples, the second is Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch and the third is the story of the conversion of Lydia. In each of these we see certain common things.
There is the call of God to the task, the travelling light, the looking for the “people of peace”, keeping focussed, travelling in pairs (other than Philip!) and remembering that we are involved in God’s mission and not the other way round.
We asked people to join two discussion groups over the course of the afternoon. To give some focus we gave them areas that they could cover. These were Social needs, Community, Work, Hobbies, Youth, Children/Families and General. The areas were to be interpreted by the group rather than have it imposed.
We then asked for people to come back with ideas which we differentiated in two camps.
The first was for those who were feeling a call from God for it. A passion for it if you like. This was obviously likely to be a smallish number. Indeed we had three potential new ones – a course to help those going through or having gone through divorce, putting on sessions or groups at an old people’s day-care centre in Carshalton and thirdly a cinema club.
Then in addition there were a host of ideas that came out from the groups.
The idea behind these is not that we just put on different activities or ministries but that these are created with engagement with our communities. We will be sending these ideas and feedback to our cell groups to discuss and see if there are others where people feel that they might have a passion for.
Next steps? Well we need to look at the ones that people had a passion for and see if groups of people want to gather round and take them on. Leadership and vision for them will be vital – especially remembering that these ministries will not be centrally run and controlled.
The day was a great one. The enthusiasm, the commitment, the ideas were everything that I hoped for.
I hope and pray that this will be the start of seeing more and more ministries serving the community coming into being.