Context: The aim of this sermon was to involve our congregations in mission action planning. Groups within church have been working on our mission action planning – the wardens, PCC, the way forward group, the Lent group plus data from our registers, ‘Dataview’ (information about our parish from the diocese) and ‘Spotlight’ (information about our community from the diocese). From all of these we were able to determine values, strengths and weaknesses (SWOT analysis) and priorities but we were aware that we hadn’t involved everyone. We decided that we would involve all our congregations (children and adults) for their contributions to our mission action plan.
Mission Action Planning – Dedication Sunday
Dressed for action: Fit for mission (part 2)
How fit are you?
- Can we have all our young people out just to see how fit you are?
- Can you jog on the spot?
- Can you do 5 sit ups?
- Can you 5 star jumps?
- What about press ups?
- Can you jog up the aisle, around the back of church and back again? It is not just for our young people. If you want to join in you are more than welcome.
(The adults declined the opportunity!!)
Well done. You are fit, ready for action. Can you give them a round of applause?
A few weeks ago I spoke about being dressed for action or ‘fit for mission’. The diocese has been looking at how the church in Manchester can be fit for mission. The diocesan vision is for church to be a ‘worshipping, growing and transforming Christian presence at the heart of every community’. Put more simply, how can the church grow, nurture the Christian community and serve others.
Growing new disciples in a missionary church and growing communities which are younger, more diverse, active and spiritually engaged.
Nurturing, by increasing vocations – both ordained and lay, recognising and developing skills and talents in others, nurturing new and existing disciples and increasing financial giving.
Serving means being present for all, speaking and acting prophetically for justice, giving pastoral support, especially to the vulnerable, the deprived and the excluded. In other words caring for the world in which we live. In the words Bishop William Temple, “The Church is the only organisation that does not exist for itself, but for those who live outside of it.”
Today, our Dedication Sunday. We celebrate the dedication of our St. Margaret’s. Our readings today say something about the church –Jesus the cornerstone who binds us together into a holy temple, the dwelling place of God. In John, the cleansing of the temple – the church/temple not being fit for purpose, being a market place rather than a house of prayer. Dedication Sunday is a good time for us to reflect on our church, our sense of vision and values. What is it that is at the heart of what we do? What is it we do well? What do we want to develop further? What do we want to see happening in our church? How do we go about it?
We have already started work on our mission action plan with the PCC, the way ahead, the wardens and the Lent course looking at some of the relevant issues. But our mission action plan is not just by a few for a few. It is not something that I have devised, but it is a communal plan – one which we all contribute to and we all have a stake in and we all, by the Holy Spirit, bring about. How can we build on all that has contributed to making St. Margaret’s what is today so that we can grow, nurture disciples and vocations and serve others.
So today instead of a sermon, we would be grateful if you would complete this simple questionnaire. The questionnaires are anonymous – but what we will do is collate all the responses and provide feedback next month.
(As children and adults completed the questionnaire I talked through the questions below. The children’s questionnaires were adapted to be more user friendly and Sunday School teachers helped them to complete it. Some members of the congregation helped others as scribes.)
- What words would you use to describe our church?
What are our values?
Are we welcoming, holy, creative, caring, inclusive, community based, contemplative, mission centred, traditional, open to the Holy Spirit, exciting, concerned for justice, a place of worship
- What do we do well?
What are our strengths?
Is it fellowship, pastoral care, worship, children’s work, our buildings and facilities?
- What could we do better?
What are our weaknesses or what stops us doing more?
Too traditional? Too modern? Do we need to be more proactive in mission? Do we want more young people/families? Afraid of change? Need to do more in the community?
- What do you think are the most important things that we should be doing?
What are our priorities?
Growth? Spiritual growth? More people? More children? More involved in the community? Prayer?
- How can we worshipping, growing and transforming Christian presence in Prestwich?
What should we be doing practically?
Stewardship? Mission? Outreach? Youth work? More in the community?
- What would you like our church to be like in 5 years’ time?
What is our vision, our legacy for the future?
Full church? Lots of children attending? Involvement in community? Refugee and asylum seekers? More work with PMP and other partnerships? Happy church? St. Margaret’s still here!
I know that there has not been a great amount of time and you may have other comments that you want to make. I have left some post-its in Church House so that during coffee, as you chat together, there is the opportunity to add any other comments.
The responses will be fed into our mission action plan which will, hopefully, enable us to be ‘fit for mission.’ We will be feeding back the information in a sermon next month and the responses will be fed into our mission action plan.
As we remember St. Margaret’s dedication day, we think about all the church means to us – both past, present and future. We thank God for all those who have contributed to the life of the church, to the building and to the community in the past. We thank God for what we have now but we also look to the future as we think about how we can grow and what we need to do to grow continue be that place of worship, prayer, spiritual growth and fellowship where we are
‘worshipping, growing and transforming Christian presence at the heart of this part of Prestwich’
(All our congregations took part in the questionnaire and we have had 97 responses.)
Watch this space for ‘Dressed for action: fit for mission (Part 3)’ – coming soon!
If you were unable to attend that service in person, the two questionnaires are available here – one for adults and one for children and young people. These questionnaires will remain open for two weeks – do please think, pray, and tell us your views.