Duncan's Diary 2011-05-14
Where to St John's Parish?
There is no doubt that the six churches of the Parish, along with the Warehouse, have huge potential to impact the communities and the city of which we are part with the good news of Jesus, and that together we are able to reach out beyond our immediate communities to the nation and nations of this continent and beyond. Over the years we have had varying degrees of success accompanied with many struggles and frustrations.
This has been a particular topic of discussion and debate and prayer in the last few years. Various people have given time and energy to helping us look at how we could unlock this huge potential and channel the considerable resources and richness of the parish in ways that would bring the transforming life of God into places that desperately need it.
Aldo Fontao encouraged us to see training of future leaders as a uniting and key need that we must address. John Atkinson took this further and researched what the particular training needs were. For various reasons things stalled along the way and never got going. At the start of this year the Parish Council asked David Newby to lead us through a process of looking at where we are going as a Parish. He has done extensive interviews with the leaders of the churches listening to their different perspectives. He analyzed his findings and from among four options made a proposal as to the way ahead for us on what he has termed “the high road”.
He presented this to the Parish Council and has been meeting with the Pastorates of the six churches to present his findings and proposals and get further feed back.
There is a link to download his full report below but in summary David Newby explains that there are four views about the future of the Parish.
- Go back to the way things used to be with the churches of the Parish coming together under the leadership of a strong Parish Rector who exercised authority and discipline and there being events like Parish Praise and mission trips.
- Down-scaling the Parish so that it is little more than an administrative structure that complies with the bare minimum of legislation and allows the churches to act independently.
- The churches cutting ties with the Parish and going it alone under the authority of the Bishop of the Diocese.
- The churches being allowed to operate largely independently but the Parish agreeing on a joint vision of what it can do together to impact the wider world
It is this fourth option that he terms “the high road” and which our Pastorate fully supports and wishes to get behind. To get there David Newby puts forward four recommendations.
- Appoint a full time Parish Rector or Team Leader whose role would be primarily apostolic but would include other responsibilities essential to the functioning of the Parish.
- Set up structures that will provide accountability and which support the vision. This would involve some changes to the functioning and frequency of meeting of Parish Council and giving the Parish Wardens (there is one from each church) a particular responsibility and oversight role.
- Establishing a sense of corporate identity and taking more seriously our stated identity as Anglican, Evangelical and Charismatic and possibly adding to that being Missional.
- Agreeing on a common vision. He recommends that while this can be articulated now at a high level, the detail could only realistically follow when a Parish Rector / Team Leader is in place to articulate and drive it.
David Newby captures this high level vision in a diagram and then explains it as follows. Here I quote from his report (draft 3) in full.
"Each congregation is led by an Associate Rector who is accountable to the Pastorate. The congregation is responsible for ministry and outreach in their local context
The Parish through much of its history has placed emphasis on unity in diversity and on the need to be a reconciled people. The vision has an outward thrust but from a unified base. Given the way in which some of this unity has been lost or compromised over the past few years, it is essential that it remain core to the vision of the parish and be clearly expressed in the vision statement. The congregations are not only held together by a common vision to serve but by a direct call from God to “Be One”
The Team Leader looks for and harnesses synergies that exist between congregations so that the ministry of each congregation is enriched
The Parish agrees on what it will do to impact the wider world. These are initiatives and projects that cannot be tackled by an individual congregation but are best done together as Parish projects/initiatives. Examples of these include:
- Responding to poverty and injustice – this is already being done by the Warehouse and there are elements in the Warehouse model that can inform how similar projects can be tackled in the future. There is also room to look more closely at how the Warehouse is functioning at present and to strengthen its ties with the Parish
- Training for ministry and mission – for some years now there has been discussion and even proposals on how this could be tackled as a Parish project. clearly the dearth of “indigenous” Evangelical clergy is of great concern and there is no doubt that this project will be need to be uppermost in the plans of a fulltime Parish Rector.
- Growing the Church – The Parish has already made some progress in this regard but far more could be achieved through a focussed and concerted effort. Included in this would be the planting of Churches, providing support to existing Anglican Churches as has been done with St Barnabas and St Peter’s, hosting conferences that equip clergy to lead their congregations more effectively e.g. New Wine, Mission trips to other parts of the country and continent e.g. Polokwane, Mozambique
Whilst the Parish will have a responsibility to speak into the Anglican context it should do so from the perspective of servant leadership and commitment to those things that have the potential to truly transform the Church. A Parish that is committed to addressing poverty and injustice, that is engaged in equipping people for ministry and mission and is actively seeking to grow churches will have far more credibility when it speaks than a Parish that blows its Evangelical trumpet out of a sense of being “bearers of the truth”.
All of these projects would require seed funding from the Parish but should strive to become financially independent by sourcing funding from around the world
Each project or initiative should be led by a capable leader (not necessarily an ordained minister) who should report to a Board that is chaired by the Parish Rector or his/her appointee and has representation from congregations in the Parish. Leaders of these projects become part of the Parish Leadership Team together with the Associate rectors of each congregation
The Parish welcomes and initiates contact with other congregations and organisations that share the vision of the Parish. Some will be friends of the Parish but others can be drawn into more formal partnership agreements with the Parish to partner in achieving the Parish vision. This is already happening at the Warehouse and the partnerships are far wider than just the Anglican Church."
You can down load and read the full report by clicking on this link: David Newby's Report on St John's Parish
I would encourage you to read it. It is long so you may want to skip to the recommendations starting on page 10.
I have attempted here to give you just a summary and draw out some salient points of what has been a very helpful insight into the life of the Parish and the way ahead for us. David’s comment to me was that he has simply taken what has been expressed to him by leaders in the Parish and given it back to us. There is very little of him in this report. That said, he has helped us enormously to look at ourselves and find a way ahead.
Flowing from this process there will be proposals brought to the Annual Parish Vestry Meeting on 31st May (8pm at Church of the Holy Spirit). Be there!
I believe we are at a kairos moment in the Parish. We need to make some bold decisions and take the journey that God is setting before us. It will have many challenges and will no doubt involve some unforeseen bends and hurdles. But I firmly believe that the united strength of the Parish is huge and something we can not ignore and treat lightly. We must not let the opportunity for making a "transforming gospel impact" on our city and nation be squandered. Together we can do more, and we can do it far better.
Pressing on ...
Duncan (Author: Duncan Mclea
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