Dioceses across the country are mailxperimenting with ways of supporting congregational life and leadership. Here are some examples of models that some dioceses have developed to nurture the missional spirit in their particular locations. These are offered as samples of best practices that may be used by other parts of the church.
1. Messy Church is a fun way for families to get together and learn more about Christ through crafts, stories, and food. Programs are often run in the early evening or on weekends outside the normal Sunday morning church schedule. Messy Church focuses on welcoming the whole family. Groups may meet once a month, but some meet as often as once a week.
1. Serving God’s World: Focusing Ministry Outward
In 2011, the Diocese of Ottawa published this parish workbook. It is a resource designed to help congregations reflect on how they relate to their neighbourhood as a mission field and how they may go about discovering their ministry in that context. With the permission of the Diocese of Ottawa and Andrew Stephens-Rennie, the author, General Synod commends this resource to any communities that are seeking to reach their neighbourhood more effectively.
1. Formation for Mission
a) Mission Possible is a five-week Bible study designed to spark conversation about what it means to be shaped for mission within your parish. Mission Possible can be used at any time of year, but can be especially effective in Advent and Lent. The Diocese of Toronto has provided a leaders’ guide as well as PowerPoint slides that you can use and adapt. You may want to use Mission Possible to start the conversation in your parish or with your leadership about who God is and the mission that God calls us to live out in the world.
b) Re-Imagining Church: Shaped for Mission is a five-week introductory course that inspires missional thinking. It is designed to help parishes discuss the transition in ministry from a Christendom era to a post-Christendom era. The course aims to inspire imaginative results more than practical—although there may be practical results as well. The purpose of the course is to re-orient thinking, sow new ideas, and offer examples of what can be done. For more information, email Elizabeth McCaffrey at the Diocese of Toronto or call her at 1-800-668-8932.
Key resources used in different dioceses:
1. Natural Church Development (NCD) is a paradigm to think differently about church growth. NCD suggests that quality (health) should precede quantity in church growth thinking. NCD uses a long-term strategic process for improving the health of churches. It centres on a sophisticated diagnostic tool that assesses a church’s health in eight areas.
For more information, contact Bill Bickle, national partner for NCD Canada.
2. Fresh Expressions Canada is an initiative of the Wycliffe College Institute of Evangelism with the Anglican bishop of Montreal. Building on similar work in England, Fresh Expressions Canada “seeks to encourage the development of fresh expressions of church alongside more traditional expressions, with the aim of seeing a more mission-shaped church take shape throughout the country.”
For more information, contact Nick Brotherwood, team leader for Fresh Expressions Canada.
3. Fresh Start is a diocese-led program that seeks to foster healthy relationships among clergy, their congregations, and their dioceses during critical periods of transition. Fresh Start encourages open and honest discussion of transitional issues that affect both clergy and congregations. The overall goal is to build a culture in which the mutual ministry of the clergy and congregation can begin afresh.