This year has been one where we have reflected on our purpose. The why, how and what of the life of the church.
*We believe the church exists to change the world – one person, one town, one nation at a time.
* 2000 years ago, Jesus came to proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom of God – heaven’s justice, mercy, goodness, healing and restoration come to earth.
* He left his people to continue his work by becoming like him and doing what he did – proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom until he returns.
Our verse of the year resonates beautifully with these statements;
‘Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.’ (Colossians 3:16)
Whilst the DCC has been reflecting on vision and priorities, it is important for us to express our gratitude. To thank God. What a wonderful range of activities that go on weekly, monthly or even annually. In listing these, I want to express my deep appreciation for the service this involves and the leadership that has created these moments of belonging and mission.
-Ladies Circle on Tuesdays
-Thursday Afternoon fellowship
-Friday Night Friends
-the weekly outreach of World Café,
-the weekly ministry of the Parent and Toddler group,
-the growing impact of Blokestime and Blokestime Plus,
-the success of the Ladies’ evenings which wants to encourage warm hospitality with meaningful conversations and the opportunity to share a testimony,
-the continuation of Breakfast@9
the establishing of a Dementia Friendly worship service in partnership with other churches across the town,
- Alpha Courses,
-the gardening club at Radipole School which is contributing so much to a healthier relationship and partnership between our churches and the local community school.
Following the presentation of the Vision and Priorities in the Mission Action Plan, the DCC made three important decisions.
Prayer: The DCC has also reflected on the organisation of the Prayer Chain for our churches. Both email and telephone chains have been used in the past few years. However, the numbers now included, while heartening in many ways, have led to some problems and challenges, particularly with confidentiality.
D.C.C.’s reflections went along these lines:
It is unclear if this is the best way of sharing prayer requests. It is apparent that many large churches no longer operate an email prayer chain.
There have been breaches of confidentiality.
Not everyone puts their needs on the prayer chain even though several people are in desperate need.
There is an assumption that all members of the prayer chain pray, we would hope so.
Care needs to be taken that the prayer chain does not become just a communication service.
How effective is the prayer chain? We pray effectively / fervently for things on our heart, but do people feel they are praying on their own or indeed with others as is hoped for? It is corporate prayer that builds us up. The prayer chain is not corporate.
The whole aspect of prayer life in our church needs to be thought, developed and of course prayed through. Noting that prayer is an important part of our life and all prayer activities need to be included, for example, the prayer chain, the prayer notice board, church service prayers, after service prayer ministry, Tuesday prayer and praise and home group prayer life.
I understand that this decision might sadden a number of people. What I want to do for now is to put the Prayer Chain on hold. It will stop while we reflect on a more effective way of sharing prayer needs and satisfies the requirement for accuracy and confidentiality. My thanks and appreciation for Colin Parkes and Sue Pendrey who up until now have been managing the Radipole Prayer Chain.
As we consider the future, we have our Mission Action Plan mentioned in the D.C.C. report laid out for us, following quite a bit of discussion, reflection and prayer. It comes with the reminder this evening that this will be an evolving document. God may trigger new things. However, it definitely gives us a trajectory to where we are going. This direction for us is about releasing the Kingdom of God, not pouring intense energy into ‘keeping things gouing in the church’
Let’s consider some stories that have not happened yet!
November 2019 Tony and Emma have just become parents. A baby boy has come into the world. While this should be a cause of celebration, these young parents feel as though they just carry on together. It looked as though they were going to carry on the same path as their own parents before them. The same spiral of relational breakdown.
Then someone introduced Emma to the Parent and Toddler group. As she got to know one or two more people, she met Laura who encouraged her to join the parent and baby group meeting in parallel. She found encouragement. She found advice and a shared sense of belonging. Both Tony and Emma have been coming along to the 10.30 service, every now and again, not every Sunday. They are checking out what the people are like.
August 2020 This was the second year of the Radipole Holiday club. The previous year, the holiday club was resurrected after many years, and it lasted for 3 days. It was popular. The children loved the singing, the dramas every day, the games and the craft. When it came to the final day the children were crying because it was over. Through Laura’s leadership and a renewed team of children’s leaders, more families had now become connected to the spiritual and worshipping life of the church. Breakfast@9 congregation had doubled and the weekly chefs were struggling to keep up with demand. The 10.30am service was now receiving an influx of children forming a growing and vibrant children’s groups. Families were beginning to find their feet at this main service, church providing that spiritual nurture at all levels.
September 2020 Bill was living just off the Dorchester Road. He had lived in his property for 35 years, seeing him and his wife Jen through retirement. But Jen died in January. He was now a widower and the pain of losing his loved one was not getting any less. Months have gone by and the initial comfort from wider members of the family had become less and less as everyone else seemed to get back to living their normal lives. Until a near neighbour came knocking on the door armed with a leaflet. She said, ’Bill, there’s this coffee morning at the church down Radipole Lane.’ They went to it that very same week and found the warmth of welcome so profound. Importantly, he discovered people who knew what he was going through. He discovered a group of people who were building a community that could touch something of the deep loneliness that he felt. He has been invited to the annual ‘remembering Loved Ones’ service and has replied to the parish office saying he intends to come. He is now wanting to speak to one of the LPAs commissioned last year, to ask if it would be alright to start coming to church at St Ann’s!
May 2021 The team of Lay Pastoral Assistants, because of their success in pastoral visiting, and increasingly finding themselves on the receiving end of great practical needs from individuals who have never been touched by the life of the local church. However, they are able to draw on some of the resources of the newly-formed Radipole Community Angels – people who form a bank of service resources, prepared to offer taxi driving, gardening, D.I.Y. work.
July 2021 Bryony lives down Beaumont Avenue. She’s a single parent. Despair led her to go to the foodbank where she met some members of the team at the Baptist Church. She was referred to our local Christians Against Poverty team who helped her access the benefits she barely knew she was entitled to, supported by volunteers who attended a church in Radipole.
She found amongst the volunteers from this church a faith that was strong, attractive, joyful and hopeful. She found also, no spark of disapproval as there would be in the eyes of nearly everybody else. The faith of these Christians was not forceful. In fact, as she has been putting up even stronger resistance to the invitations to come to church, the volunteers have remained kind, patient and interested in her. Her lack of response was having no impact on their desire to help and support her.
December 2021 The weekly prayer meeting which takes place on a Monday at 12 noon in St Ann’s Church started in May 2019. It has now become a focus of prayer, not just for the church, but also for Radipole Primary School. Praying for the headteacher, for the staff and organization, and for families and particular needs (anonymously of course).
February 2022 A local County Councillor spends time with the church community. She has often expressed scepticism about the capacity and motivation of faith groups in their role in the community. Sometimes, quite hostile. However, she has begun to see at first hand how the neighbourhoods and communities have been transformed by the work of the Christian church. The DCC, along with other Christian communities and churches are invited to engage with and shape the vision for the future, working alongside other agencies in health, policing and law enforcement.
2) The Big Picture: This is what Kingdom work begins to do to us
This big picture is about the journey we are embarked on. The focus is on the kingdom, not the church.
Seek the Kingdom, let Jesus build the church.
People will listen to the message when they like what they see
There has been a shift in mind-set amongst churches these days. More and more, churches are finding that the call to serve the Kingdom of God has changed the culture of the church. I sense that God is doing the same with us. Here are just some of the shifts that might be happening to us.
From Saving souls to Shaping culture
From Energy in to Energy out
From Programme to Presence
From Place of retreat to People of rescue
From Here I am Lord, send her to Here I am Lord
From Obligation to Desire
From Self-reliant to Spirit-reliant
From What suits me to Needs of the lost
From Staff do everything to An army equipped
From Pretence to Authenticity
From Risk averse to Risk taking
From You (consumer) to Us (ownership)
From Closed to Open
From Possible to Impossible (“If your goals don’t scare you, they are not from God”)
From Event we attend to Life done together
(* Ref. Paul Langham speaking at New Wine Leaders regional Conference, Bristol, March 2019)
3) How can I help to turn vision into reality?
How will we do this? This is a story about Radipole. It’s about St Aldhelm’s and St Ann’s working in complementary ways. It’s about Jesus. It’s about you. Because you are the ‘culture maker’. How you communicate, what you create. How you do your work. How you live in your street. If a critical mass of Weymouth citizens lived their lives and make culture in such ways that reproduced the mercy, justice, friendship and hope of Jesus, this part of Weymouth can be transformed. It might even change the world.
Your own heart and mind is critical to this movement. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, there was such a focus on keeping the Temple pure, to keep worship ritual pure. It was God’s way of calling a people to be a light to the nations. Now it is you. Are you ready? Joshua 3:5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
This church needs people like you to say, ‘Yes, I’m in!’.
Please pray about the following three words:
Pray about those 3 words; begin to imagine how you might use them to evaluate the way you live, the groups and ministries in which you’re involved.
Here are some questions to guide that process
-Are you regularly meeting God?
-Have you found your place in the family?
-Are you / your ministry, group etc. helping others to meet God and find family?
-Do you know who you are in Christ?
-Have you discovered what you were born to do?
-Are you / your ministry, group etc. helping others to find identity and purpose?
-Are you being empowered to reproduce the life of Jesus?
-Are you beginning to imagine how the places you live and work can be transformed?
-Are you / your ministry, group etc. empowering others to transform culture?
It won’t be at all surprising if the answer to many of those questions is ‘No’ for many of us, so please don’t worry or be discouraged if that’s the case – the adventure begins NOW.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
Nick Clarke April 2019