All Aboard – session 2

In our first All Aboard session we looked at the values – the foundations, if you like – that underpin our church communities – thinking in general rather than specifically of the churches of the Wilford Peninsula.

In our second session we considered what the building blocks of church might be and with a bible study of Acts 2.42-end and asking ‘What do you notice in this passage’ about the life of the early church?

Maundy thursday 2014

We noticed :

  • the importance of food – sharing meals; breaking bread together.
  • shared property – responsibility for the well-being of others. We are called to radical giving if not outright communism.
  • joy and fellowship
  • learning; building up community
  • like-minded – at least in the early days. In Acts 6 the church is reorganised to meet its core values.
  • daily prayers and worship together; in the Temple and homes; (they did not have the responsibility of maintaining a building – but would have contributed towards it in Temple taxes)
  • community – sticking together but growing – attracting new members

The greek word for church – ekklesia – just means ‘meeting of people’.

God pulls us together and sends us out = God’s heartbeat for the world.

We then asked ourselves ‘What does the local community think of the church?’

Is it like ….

  • an ambulance station?
  • a sweet shop?
  • a leisure centre?
  • a garage?
  • policy HQ?
  • a telephone exchange?
  • a museum?

What do you think?

And then ‘How do you see the church?’

Is it like

  • a circus or theatre?
  • stock exchange?
  • airport?
  • army barracks?
  • beauty parlour?
  • supermarket?

Avery Dulles proposed 6 roles – building blocks – for the church :

(In no particular order)

  1. Disciple. Jesus called disciples. Disciple means one who follows/learns. Discipleship has become a ‘buzz word’ in recent years, partly because we find that the basic knowledge about our faith is not ‘general knowledge’. In the past there was Sunday School for children, leading to confirmation and often learning stopped there. Yet everyone is called discipleship and learning; journeying with Christ and growing into His likeness.
  2. Evangelist. = ‘messenger, one who shares a message (of good news)’ .Tends to be associated with ‘Bible-thumping’, soapbox, TV evangelist. Someone, somewhere shared the faith with each of us. Evangelism, whether in words or deeds, is not an ‘option’. It means provoking by your actions the questions which will give the opportunity for us to tell people about our faith; sharing our own experience. See 1 Peter 3.15-16a.
  3. Servant. Not just about practical action in local community but also about seeking peace and justice; speaking out about those on the margins of society. “God so loved the world…..” Being outward-looking.
  4. Worship. The coming together of the fellowship of Christ (people in relationship) to be formed into His likeness, transformed and the sending out to refresh God’s world. Includes listening and stillness.
  5. Community. Being human together. Food as a sign of fellowship. Sharing joys and sorrows, music, laughter, food; that which has Christ as the centre. Coming together sometimes in working through conflict and difference. Not just community of the church but our place in the community, facing outwards.
  6. Institution. Should serve us rather than control. It is what shapes us; regulations, buildings, resources, structure.

We then looked at the ways in which the 6 roles are already happening in our churches and also what could be happening. Post-it notes were placed on a sheet for each role as follows:

Disciple
Actual
‘Discipleship Explored‘; Home/House groups; Lent groups; Wriggly Worship (for preschool children & carers); Now 43 (teenagers); Café Sundae; Pudding Club; renewing of commitment of Elders & Reader.
Aspirational :
Discipleship courses; more local learning events e.g. MSM, Elders’ day; more learning;
Evangelist
Actual
Mothers’ Union; clergy visiting; baptisms/weddings/funerals; Newsletter; Now 43; service; neighbourliness; ‘Open the Book’; Café Sundae; personal example; Lent lunches; Tea & Cakes
Aspirational :
talking about evangelism; weddings, baptisms, funerals, confirmation; weekly local prayer group; baptism follow-up with cards, visits; ministry to visitors – prayer requests, explanation of building features; evangelist outreach, offer courses; more seekers’ courses; expand children’s work e.g. Messy Church, junior choir
Servant
Actual
Mothers’ Union; food for families; fund raising; visiting; food bank
Aspirational :
more pastoral work (clergy and lay); Mothers’ Union parenting (?course)
Worship
Actual
Lent group; Wriggly worship; Now 43; Taize services; Sunday morning services; morning prayer; varied worship – BCP & CW eucharists, family & lay led services; good welcomers in church;
Aspirational :
expansion of lay-led worship; diverse programme of services; more participation in worship; different days for services/worship; Sunday afternoon/evening service; Messy Church; different types of worship; new church planting in Sutton (Heath); re-start Taize
Community
Actual
Now 43; Wriggly Worship; Café Sundae; Pudding Club; Lent group; lay-led services; school assemblies; ‘Open the Book’; Welcome club; school services; visits; shared meals; serving the community; café church; Lent lunches; Café Respect; Messy Church
Aspirational :
greater appeal to children & young people; being more of a Christian presence in the community in different ways; more inter-village action/interaction
Institution
Actual :
open churches & connections; the church (building) is liked by the people around it; PCC meetings; treasurers; elders; church buildings; church wardens; deanery synod; good admin and officers; imaginative fund-raising; refurbishment;
Aspirational :
Bedrock

 

 

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