The Revd Canon Ian Flintoft, Director of Discipleship and Ministry for Mission, writes about the work taking place in relation to the Prayer, Leading your Church into Growth and Impact strands of our 'growing church bringing hope' vision.
Impact Strand update
In my last update on the Impact Strand, I was able to report that the Diocese was to benefit from 212,000 of Church of England Restructure Funding to progress work on this Strand of our Diocesan Strategy.
We planned to use the money to employ specialist lay Missioners in a number of pilot parishes.Since then, we have appointed two Children and Families Missioners one for Holy Spirit Denton (Jacqueline Atkinson) and one for Newbiggin Hall and Cowgate (Henry Brandon).
In February, we aim to appoint a Community Missioner, who will work alongside a new priest in the parishes of Percy Main and Balkwell.
The Missioners will work with the churches and local communities to plan new programmes of work and forms of Christian community appropriate for the area.
They will initiate and expand links and networks with parts of the parishes currently not in regular contact with the church.
They will support and train volunteers, encouraging ministry throughout the congregations and specifically recruiting, training, and releasing people into mission-focused activities.
We are about to begin working with the next wave of pilot parishes for this strand.Five parishes, in a range of contexts, have been identified.
These parishes will work with a facilitator to engage the PCC, congregation, and the wider community, in a review and reflection process, gathering information and using a questionnaire to discern one or two key impact priorities to work on.
They will then work together on the areas identified, either using what they already have or in partnership with wider resources in the Diocese.
Areas for work might include: improving the churchs worship; increasing community engagement; building up those on the fringe of the church community; improving our welcome; encouraging active involvement and shared leadership.
The goal for this strand is that in five years time, impact and attendance will have increased in 20 identified parishes (some will be parishes currently having the lowest per capita attendance, whilst others will be those with significant potential for further growth).
Do look out for further information on the achievements of this strand and for an invitation to participate.
Month of Guided Prayer
One of the main ways we have been seeking to implement the first strand of growing church bringing hope is by offering people the chance to take part in a Month of Guided Prayer, a form of retreat in daily life.
This gives people the opportunity to meet one-to-one with a prayer guide for 30 minutes once a week for four weeks to talk about their journey with God and to explore new avenues of prayer.
A Month of Guided Prayer is a great opportunity to take time out, deepen your relationship with God, and discover new ways of praying. It is for anyone who would like to deepen their prayer life—whatever stage of the journey you are at.
Since my last update, we have run Months of Guided Prayer in Monkseaton, Alnmouth, and Bedlington, and feedback has again been encouraging:
I really appreciated the dedicated 1-2-1 time with the 'guide'. It was invaluable to be able to be honest and ask questions in a 'safe' place. It was also a great encouragement, and incentive, to explore new ways of praying, knowing that another appointment with the guide lay ahead Also I very much appreciate diocesan time and energy in this initiative.
The listening ear, the patient guidance, the skilled question here and there, along with wonderful resources to take away and ponder on, all completely rejuvenated my prayer life.
Another Month of Guided Prayer is about to start in Riding Mill, and this will be followed in the spring by sessions in Tynemouth Deanery (Thursday evenings), Alnmouth (a weekday afternoon), Gosforth (Wednesday evenings), Jesmond, and Morpeth. We would be very happy to hear from people who would be interested in taking part.
To request further details or express an interest in taking part, please email email@example.com or call 0191 270 4143.
Leading your Church into Growth
It has been exciting and encouraging to hear about developments in parishes that have already taken part in the Leading your Church into Growth (LyCiG) course in 2017 and 2018.
Here is what some of our parishes have said about their LyCiG experience.
The LyCiG course tapped into the aspirations of the leadership, provided us with a common, jargon-free language and many examples we could relate to, and stimulated a change in attitude among the PCC and within parts of the congregation to be more outward looking and open to change.
We have just run our first enquirers course following our attendance at LyciG and it has been a great experience: a number of the people will be confirmed next month.Thank you for inviting us to take part in LyCiG.
Some of the congregation now come more regularly and appear more interested beyond just attending on Sunday.Lent and Advent courses are well attended. There is also a greater willingness to attend one off things we put on e.g. the invitation training course written by the Evangelism Task Group.
We are now planning for the next course, which will take place in 2019, and will again be run by the diocesan and national team working together.
Having received feedback from some parishes where lay members found it hard to get time off for a three-day residential, we have changed the format for 2019.
There will be a full day on input and group work on Saturday 14 September. The rest of the course will be delivered from 4pm on Friday 4 October through to around 6pm on Saturday 5 October 2019.
We aim to have 70 people, lay and clergy, taking part.We would like to invite parishes to make expressions of interest now for the course in 2019.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest.