Shifting the conversation from “decline” to “possibility”
“This sense of freedom that emerged from being encouraged and resourced to give something a go helped change the narrative in our church. It shifted the conversation from ‘struggle’ and ‘decline’ to ‘opportunity’ and ‘possibility’. This narrative shift is the most valuable outcome of our Adapting Ministry in Complex Times pilot participation,” says The Rev’d Rosemary Gardiner
I participated in the Adapting Ministry in Complex Times pilot last year, along with three Parish Council members. The Adapting Ministry in Complex Times pilot is a co-learning community of different parishes that is facilitated by Resource Church, St John’s Cathedral.
The co-learning community engages in a series of practice-based workshops designed to support parishes navigate future ministry using tools drawn from complexity theory. Being present and open to what is emerging in our communities helps a church to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading and to identify new possibilities.
Before I was appointed to Holy Trinity, Woolloongabba, the whole parish had prepared a Mission Action Plan (MAP). The MAP identified five areas of focus, these being worship, “Being Together”, community and outreach, change and growth, and stewardship.
I worked alongside the Parish Council to form working groups, with each focussing on one of these five areas of interest.
One of the concepts covered in the pilot was the importance of giving people the freedom to try, and even to “fail”. Inspired by this, each working group was allocated $1,000 to use in whatever way that particular group thought was best.
This sense of freedom that emerged from being encouraged and resourced to give something a go helped change the narrative in our church. It shifted the conversation from “struggle” and “decline” to “opportunity” and “possibility”. This narrative shift is the most valuable outcome of our Adapting Ministry in Complex Times pilot participation.
The working group focussed on worship connected in with a community group – a vocal school – that uses the church regularly. This opened up the creative possibilities for our worship. For example, our Christmas carols event last year was enhanced by its eclectic mix of an all-in traditional Christmas carol singalong, which was followed by a time of prayer and reflection with singing throughout, and closed with informal Christmas karaoke.
Having a strong music group to build the event around pulled the whole experience together.
The event was very well attended, with more people joining in from the wider community, including the friends and family members of the vocal group.
Running such a successful event with the freedom just to “try” and see what happened, gave parishioners confidence and has inspired us to try more this year. Our parish has continued to benefit from what we learnt in the pilot. The event also inspired other working groups, which has led to increased activity across the board.
We encourage other parish priests and Parish Councils to participate in this year’s Adapting Ministry in Complex Times program.
Editor’s note: Resource Church St John’s Cathedral invites parishes to participate in this year’s Adapting Ministry in Complex Times co-learning community. The initiative is offering a series of six workshops designed to support parishes as they navigate their future ministry using tools derived from complexity theory. The workshops are led by expert facilitators. For more information or to register your interest, please contact Angie Mooney, Cathedral Resource Church Reference Group Coordinator via email@example.com. This brochure may also be downloaded for more information.Jump to next article