Yesterday's CME wasn't the only thing I've had to leave after only part of the programme this week. On Sunday our PCC met for lunch and an "away day" discussion on vision and strategy for the next three or four years. In part their discussion was informed by the new Diocesan Vision Statement*. The PCC focussed much more on nuts and bolts, starting the afternoon with a brainstorm of things that St M's does well, and those that it finds harder.
Really interesting stuff (specially noticing that some of the same items appear on both lists). Once again, I had to leave at this point, so I just don't know if they explored again what they understand the church to be for, - but judging by the papers that have emerged there was an hopeful focus on prayer, and also an anxiety around communication and inclusion. It was noticed that only a very small minority feel "brave" enough to join us as we pray the office, and we were speculating about why that might be so, wondering if the concept of "safety in numbers" applies here. I'm sure that many, not just at St M's, struggle with the interface between private and public prayer, and feel insecure in a situation that might seem to be not quite either. Late last night I read this over at Michael's place, and found it a really helpful focus around which to collect my own thoughts about a future church community, and reflections on the here and now.
This was the crunch part for me - as I try to work out ways to be "both/and"...
"Emerging generations long to experience authentic community. They crave to be in a smaller worshipping community where they can have ownership, deeply share their lives (the good and the bad), ask hard questions, and struggle with less than definite answers.'
I reckon everyone involved in what we're growing here in Gloucester would sign up to these words. As we've begun to experience 'small' worshipping community, and realised that there's nowhere to 'hide', that there's no consuming, only participating, I think we've all begun to realise that although there's a cost involved, it's a cost that comes with a generous payback.
The first part comes from Emerging Worship, the next is Michael's own reflections. "Nowhere to hide" would be hard for many people in my congregation, I suspect, though it would be wonderful to make them feel so aware of their value that hiding simply wasn't on the agenda.
Ah well, I guess I may just have to buy Dan Kimball's book - quoting it on the blog twice in a week seems to suggest it needs reading!
(Note to self; possibly read everything else in the queue first? Just an idea...)
*This doesn't yet seem to be online. It's certainly a worthwhile document, but one which errs slightly on the side of motherhood and apple pie, in that it would be very hard to argue against any element of it...my anxiety is that it might just allow everyone to sit back and say "Isn't it lovely. The church in Gloucester diocese stands for all these things. We're so glad to be part of it" - which really isn't the point, is it?)