One exciting local project that is really getting off the ground at the moment is Paul Harston’s Park In The Past Project on the site of the Old Fagl Lane Quarry. Paul is best known to us in Hope Church of course as Emperor Augustus sending Mary and Joseph to the Stable at the Red Lion Inn in Bethlehem! The vision for Park in the Past is really quite inspiring and one that I am convinced will really benefit our local community. Do read the guest article this month, consider making a gift (for as little as £10), visiting the park and or give a helping hand to the Big Fort Build this August Bank Holiday Weekend! More information too at www.parkinthepast.org.uk.
I do confess however (tongue in cheek) that I am a little concerned about Paul’s reward system. Pledge £250 to the project and Paul will make you into a High Priest(ess) – If you accept such a reward I will be obliged to refer you to the Bishop! As our New Testament teaches, (Hebrews 4:14-16), the Great High Priest reward has already gone to Jesus and for far more than £250! :)
An advance notice for you – 2nd-16th September marks the beginning of our new St Cynfarch Festival. Alan Birchall, former Minstrel of the George Mitchell Singers is coming to open our festival with a Variety Songs of Praise evening. A Patron Saints Festival is the traditional date that a parish church together with its local community celebrates its ‘church birthday’ – 8th September is St Cynfarch’s Day – and on this day we will host our main festival event – the new Craft and Produce Show. Save the dates and look out for other festival events that will be added to our programme in coming weeks!
Now to Growth. Recently 20 out of 21 Mission Areas (we being part of Borderlands Mission Area), accepted the challenge of growing our Sunday congregations numerically by 10% by the close of 2018.
I’m hopeful that we will reach this 10% growth mark. I’m hopeful because in Hope and Emmanuel Churches, just as we enjoy talking about our families, holidays and (say) football (Yes, England really did win a World Cup penalty shoot-out!), we also enjoy talking about faith, church and Jesus too – so growth happens as a by-product! This 10% target isn’t about being pernickety or obsessive with figures. Nor is it about feeling down if we can’t or don’t achieve it. The aim for this 10% target is about learning to live with the mind-set that ‘having a go at growth is always worth having a go’. Healthy things after all grow.
Here in Hope, Penyffordd and Borderlands, we’re looking to grow in three ways – numerically, spiritually and missionally. We’re looking to:
1. Grow in numbers attending our Sunday services and midweek groups and events
2. Grow in personal spiritual commitment as we seek to understand the Bible better and become more committed to our own relationships with God and others. (This is why for example trying Alpha, or joining a house group, or Theology for Life group is such a good idea)
3. Grow in service to both our local church and local community. Our local community could be Hope and Penyffordd, but equally this could be the place where you spend much of your time too, such as (say) your workplace – or supporting (say) Park In The Past!
The Diocesan Evangelism Group last month issued the clergy with a short document, “Quick and Easy Wins for Mission Area Growth”. You can read the article in full on the diocesan website.
These Quick Wins come from the Leading Your Church Into Growth (LyCiG) Course. They are based on the ‘4Ps of Prayer, Presence, Proclamation and Persuasion’ (not to be confused with the Seven Priorities of Mission that I wrote about in April’s Rector Writes).
Questions we have a church to think about in coming months are how are we praying for God’s blessing on our families, friends and people in our local communities? How is our church present in and welcoming to our local community? How well do we each proclaim our faith? How do we persuade or give confidence to others to have faith in Jesus Christ? Alpha (that starts next month) in particular I advocate as excellent for creating space to think through the bigger questions of life and give such confidence. Do tell me if you would like to sign up!
In Christ, Adam
“Every parish must act as an incubator of the faith, a place where the deep prayer which opens up the inner journey can be learnt”. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, 1995-2017