Category Archives: Mission

Some thoughts on the “5 Marks of Mission”

Mission, or Task, is at the heart of what the Church of God is about. The idea  starts with the assumption that belief isn’t just something that goes on internally, either in our minds or within the walls of our church buildings on Sundays, but is to do with transforming what we believe into what we do.

To those who are confused or even frightened by the very notion of being involved in some way in the mission of the church, there have been a couple of helpful developments in recent times:

Firstly there was the introduction of the idea of mission having five ‘hallmarks’: it meant preaching to the unconverted, baptising and teaching new Christians, having an eye to ministry among the needy, a desire to see the world changed through the power of the message of love and care for the created order of which we and all people are part…

Secondly (and thankfully for me and people like me) someone decide to ‘alliterate’ the list (write them down so they all start with the same letter!) to make remembering and understanding these hallmarks easier.

SO – the five ‘marks’ of the mission of the church are:

TELL – this is about communicating to the world around us our experience of the things of God: joy, liberation, generosity, hope, grace, faithfulness, peace, love… When we say ‘Tell’ of course we must remember the words of St Francis “…use words if necessary” . In other words, telling, preaching, proclaiming the message of love is every bit as much about how we live, how we behave, what sort of things we say and how we say them, how much we listen, our patience, compassion, grace, peace, generosity  and so on, as what we merely say.

TEACH – this is about nurturing people who are new to faith, passing on to them something of what we’ve experienced and learnt – and are still learning – for example about trust, humility, mercy, commitment, forgiveness, prayerfulness…  and helping them to experience the things of faith for themselves

TEND – this is about looking to the needs of others, whoever they are, whether we consider them to be good or bad, like or unlike us, near or far, deserving or undeserving

TRANSFORM – this is about having the vision of the world as it could and can be (our local community, family, colleagues – and ourselves) and seeking to help it to grow in love, hope, compassion, justice-with-mercy, peace

TREASURE – this is about having a wider view and respect for the of the whole of Creation and the way its parts are all inter-related and inter-dependent – including us

It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean that each of us individually is expected (or even be able!) to do all of the things in each of the five areas; these are the ‘Marks’ of mission: guidelines for what the Church  needs to do in order to fulfil its vital task of revealing the kingdom of God on earth – which is the whole point of the church’s existence.

Steve

All Hallows Church – where next?

If you are part of the All Hallows’ community please come to our meeting to discuss:

All Hallows Church – where next?
Sunday 27th January
Morning service 10:30am – 11:15am
Prayer 11:30am – 11:45am
Meeting 11:45am – 1:30pm

The PCC will shortly be meeting to decide on our next steps as a church community. As many of you are aware, we have some major decisions to make about how we continue as a church which will have serious implications on our future.

The overall question is:-
“How do we, as a church community, best fulfill our mission to be God’s presence in this neighbourhood, this city and the world?” Our Mission Statement, amended last year, aims to address this and guide us in what we do, taking as our lead the five marks of mission: to tell, teach, tend, transform and treasure.

To help the PCC in it’s decision making we are having a meeting of the All Hallows’ community on 27th January after a shortened morning service

The morning service is at 10:30am, the meeting will start about 11:30am. There will be discussion over food. Please bring sandwiches or snacks if you would like to, to eat as we talk. We plan to finish by 1.30 at the latest (in time to get to the Holocaust Memorial Day event if you wish). There will also be a film and popcorn for the children who don’t want to take part in the discussion (sorry, this doesn’t really apply to the adults!)

If you would like a copy of the discussion document it is available on Announce or please email the Churchwardens

Sermon for Advent 2: “O Dayspring”

Advent 2: 9th DecO Dayspring”

Readings – Genesis 32.22-31; John 21:1-12;

On this the 2nd Sunday of Advent we continue our look at the O Antiphons’ – the names for Jesus traditionally used as the refrains to the Magnificat in the service of Evening Prayer during Advent.

This week we’re looking at the name ‘O Dayspring’… a reference to the dawn, the beginning of the day.

The traditional Advent refrain to the Magnificat at evening prayer:

O Dayspring, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness, Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death”

And the prayer used throughout the year during Morning Prayer:

The night is past and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind… As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O lord, set our hearts on fire with love for you now and for ever.

It has to be said firstly that morning can be a time when sadly on awakening we are reminded of the reality of the loss of loved people or things – but today I want to focus on the positive emotions morning can bring.

The foregoing prayers speak of the relief of the arrival of the morning after the darkness of night: light to see by; warmth after coldness; being connected after the isolation of the night; breaking the fast – re-fuelling, refreshing; washing, cleansing; colour after blackness; ‘reality’ after the night’s dreams and imaginings…

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The Genesis reading concerns the night before Jacob’s return to his brother Esau. In the night he wrestles with someone (it’s not clear who this actually is) and just before daybreak, having prevailed against his opponent despite a serious wound, Jacob receives a blessing. Not in spite of his struggle in the dark, but because of it. He is left maimed but blessed.

The set reading for this week is actually Luke 3.1-6, John the Baptist’s call to people to “Prepare the way of the Lord” meaning to examine ourselves, our lives, and get ready for God to come among us – in the form of the Christ-child as we celebrate every Christmas – but also in the form of God’s Spirit entering our lives afresh with healing and mercy and generosity and peace and joy. ‘Prepare the way’ – an important message, as we start to prepare for the annual festivities, that the coming of God is there for everyone not just at Christmas but at every moment of every day of our lives.

Yet in John 21 we see an alternative way of looking at things: In the gospel the time is morning, just as day is breaking, and Jesus after the resurrection, is acting out, as it were, what he has just accomplished by his death and resurrection – turning the whole idea of religion and faith upside-down; not our dependence upon our goodness or faithfulness or hard work; not our having to clear the way for him – but God’s gift of love given in the form of Jesus Christ, clearly shown for what it is – accessible, gracious, unconditional. And now the call to ‘come and have breakfast’ – the dawn has broken and along with it the power of darkness – and now it’s time to break the fast – prepared, servant-like, for his friends, as we celebrate whenever we share the bread and wine of communion as we shall shortly be doing here.

Morning… the time when fevered minds that are clouded by doubt or disease or despair are enlightened. In David Rhodes’ book Faith in Dark Places, he writes about ‘The Great Darkness’ – those times when God seems far away and prayer of any kind is difficult and we wrestle with our fears, our problems, all those things that in the darkness seem impossible to fathom; and like Jacob at the ford of the Jabbok we may wrestle with our demons and even our God, – as the story from Genesis shows, sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference.

…and Daniel O’Leary in “Passion for the Possible” writes, “Naked trust in God alone is a rare, beautiful and final state of soul… it is promised to those who believe that in the depths of winter we finally learn that within us lies an invincible summer ”

So maybe it’s not just that summer is nice and warm and comfortable and we want to avoid, or at best just shudder through winter, making the best of a bad job. It’s in the winter that the promise becomes apparent; it’s in midwinter that we celebrate Christmas! And maybe in our imagery of dark and light, night and morning, it’s not just that dark is nasty, bad, or whatever, and light is nice and good; Meister Eckhart wrote,

In the middle of the night there was spoken to me a word, a secret word…”

Jacob at the Jabbok in the night wrestled with God and was rewarded – injured, yes, but rewarded and when the day was breaking he received the blessing – not in spite of the night but because of it.

Jesus on the beach preparing breakfast for his disciples does so not in spite of the events of Golgotha, certainly not in denial of them, but through them – because of them.

So the name of Jesus ‘O Dayspring’ is not just a happy, bright, sweet title – it’s a recognition that without the night there would be no dawn.

As the dawn brings freshness and warmth relief and enlightenment, so Jesus the Dayspring brings these things to us. The prayer, again, from Morning Prayer: ‘As we rejoice in the gift of this new day so may the light of your presence set our hearts on fire with love for you now and for ever’.

As we rejoice in Jesus the Dayspring bringing us the gifts of God’s grace, of life and light and relief… so may we be fired up with love – mercy, forgiveness of others, grace, – in other words to be like Christ – be to other people like the dawn breaking, bringing to others all the feelings that the breaking dawn brings to us.

And one final word – one of the marks of God’s Spirit is Joy. Thinking about the state of the church generally and some of the sad and tragic events in the world around us, I was reminded of a profound quote from Khalil Gibran’s book The Prophet where he talks about the universally-recognised feelings of warmth and joy that morning evokes; how we need to remember these sentiments!…

…‘In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed’.

Gay Marriage

Gay marriage was one of the items debated at the recent Ripon & Leeds Diocesan Synod.

The discussion was on the motion “this Synod welcomes the affirmation by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury of the Church of England’s understanding of marriage as a life long union between one man and one woman as derived from Scripture and enshrined in its Liturgy”.

This led to much discussion, including issues to do with the definition of marriage and whether or not the Church of England should allow individual churches to perform same-sex marriages in their church buildings. It was heartening to see that most of the speakers spoke positively about gay marriage (i.e. against the motion) and in fact at one point the Bishop, chairing the debate, had to ask if there was actually anyone who wanted to speak for the motion!

After some moving speeches, the general feeling was that wider issues raised by the motion required careful preparation and consideration and that to vote on the motion at this stage would have the effect of closing down, rather than opening up, debate and sensitive listening to one another. It was proposed  and  agreed that this debate should not be voted upon at this synod but carried forward to a future meeting.

The Ripon & Leeds Diocese’s Sexuality Task Group will be arranging a public debate in the New Year.

 

In a recent meeting of around fifty people from several parishes, in answer to the question,

  • “If gay people who make covenant with one another wish to bring their whole selves and make those covenants before God, as the rest of the population already can, should they be enabled to?”the answer was “Yes” by  a ratio of 4:1.
  • Asked if they believed gay marriage would undermine straight marriage and have a destabilising effect on society, the answer was “No” by a ratio of almost 3:1.
  • The answer to “Should having children – or the ability or the desire or the intention to have children – be a pre-requisite for marriage?”  was a unanimous “No”.
  • To “Under the proposed state law, denominations are allowed to permit their individual churches to perform same-sex marriages. Should the Church of England therefore allow each PCC to decide on this for themselves?” The answer was “No” by a ratio of 10:1.

So – a snapshot of the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the Church of England which shows that the issues surrounding same-sex marriage are not as black-and-white as some would perhaps like. It also shows that the idea of gay marriage is not being rejected out of hand by the people of the Church as clearly as some would have us believe!

Mission, the building and process… your thoughts:

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All hallows’ thoughts and feelings arising out of the all-church day in June looking at mission, the building & process, in order of ‘Questions, Ideas and Comments

QUESTIONS:

The people at the margins and those not at the margins- these are who we are here for Can we hire other buildings to help us serve them?

I think we should act like there’s not much time left. How important is it to us that others hear the message about Jesus Christ?

Does the local community want/need this building to be here? If not can we share another church’s building?

If talking to each other is difficult about faith, then how do we do it to outsiders?

Why don’t we join with Left Bank and put our ‘tent’ up there?

If mission is about creative energy, what feeds this energy? What drains this energy?

Mission: We need a café to share hospitality in. We need a room to meet and share worship in. Does this have to be in this building?

Jesus sent the disciples out travelling light – with the minimum of possessions. Is a building a heavy burden to carry?

The stats on poverty tell us:we have high child poverty, high social housing, high lone parenthood (ish), high ethnic diversity (ish). What might these lead us to?

Is it possible that there are some dissident voices not being heard because their opinion is seen as “ye of little faith” or the opinion is seen as negative e.g. we don’t have the people or energy for a big building campaign

What are our responsibilities to those who use the building?

What about social enterprise?

Remember others use the building. Can we link to the Methodists?

What is our priority in mission – then where locate? E.g. to gay people, to marginalised people, to local people. How can we listen to shopkeepers and also to those in the congregation?

Can we do more outside church on Sunday to help the community?

What do the local community think the church space could be used for?

Can we make this building sustainable?

Are there the people here who will use this building – does the community want this building?

What has been decided so far by the PCC and how does our contribution today relate to this?

Join Left Bank?

What used to go on all the time – so many things raising money used to happen – why not now?

What were people’s experiences of worshiping in the café? Could we worship in a school hall?

IDEAS

We need some teaching on basics of faith

Religious literacy Resourcing people to be confident talking about faith

Noticing & Naming. Opening up and revealing where my energy is going. How to capture this and pour energy into AH

Mission is about being and doing with and for other people

Mission is celebration and large events: e.g. from our past – with Turkish Muslims, Arch dancing, Pat’s funeral, weddings (eg Clare’s) … civil partnership(s). We need large space (like pubs used to be when people had small homes)

Children: Need to reach out better to our own children and to children in the parish. Most adults who come to church had some connection as a child

My thoughts condensed: 1) no one is ready to think in terms of losing the building
2) business as usual will lose the building maybe with a few years delay but we have nothing currently to attract funders, church giving is high per person and for church growth to solve anything we’d need be looking at a tripling of the congregation (nice idea but not realistic)
3) the building as it is actually underused but we lack resources to either find new users or put on our own events (NB most folks looking to use venue like ours will be looking for a freebie or at best covering heating/lighting costs,  for  business users a caretaker to open up/someone to take tea and coffee in mid meeting would make the great difference ) 4) funders generally want something new/exciting and short term. Maintaining a status quo doesn’t attract funding. Proposal: we set up group to look at spaces like 7 arts centre, otley courthouse , left bank etc. to see how their use of space can be a model for us. The courthouse is the example I know best – 90% volunteer run, community feel, regular cafe, arts events, craft fairs, gigs, youth events, even a church meeting there on a Sunday (or was until recently), there is a distinctive all hallows flavour we would need to add. (I’d suggest to that group that the way forward would involve appointing community worker/funding bid organiser/caretaker/community project worker/events co-ordinator – a complex many hat role or one the group may wish to narrow down somewhat)   this isn’t just suggesting bait for funders rather something that is a consistent expansion of the all hallows vision and would need to be developed with care.


Perhaps no building to maintain could release more energy to focus on those we seek to serve and build community with each other.

Pray for God’s leading and direction

Ring the bell & people will come

Building – mutual attention needed, not servant/master analogy. Something sad about neglecting the building.

‘Incredible edibles’ in Hyde Park led by AH

What might be the financial and emotional cost/benefit of demolish and rebuild instead of patch up?

Compare with looking at a shed/house/garden – the building speaks to area about VALUE

History of All Hallows – one of first churches in Leeds – building is important historically.

Let’s help each other by: asking what we do that we think is ‘mission’ away from All Hallows; affirming that mission; talking to each other about that mission. Thinking about the balance of our individual ‘missions’ in and out of the All Hallows space

Telling the story to those who haven’t heard it yet. Could we improve our ‘religious literacy’ by talking to each other about key issues? Perhaps this could be a Lent course? Example: “Why does God allow suffering in the world?” is quite a common comment from the secular world. Might it be a good idea to ‘rehearse’ our answer to this? What resources would we use? What skills would be needed? What would be a good approach?

COMMENTS:

Mission is hospitality for local gatherings

Mission is often about: listening sensing guessing feeling what God is doing / where God is going, and being there. NAMING what is happening, interpreting what is going on and connecting this up with the story.

Mission is outreach and inclusive openings to the spirit’s leadings

Communication methods: email, web, personal experience – not constrained but open and responsive

As a parish church might we be better listening to those who live in the parish

We don’t need a building to fulfil the marks of mission, we need to engage with people

Mission has to be also willing to fail and learn from that failure and move on

Knowing no divisions of race or sexuality. Embracing all.

As a result of a recent conversation with a friend I got thinking about YOUNG PEOPLE. When I first came to AH 10 years ago I was a YOUNG PERSON. Now in my 30s I don’t feel like a YOUNG PERSON yet I am one of the youngest members of the congregation (excl Kids Church of course!) and I wonder where are the next generation of YOUNG PEOPLE in our church? I worry about us becoming a typical aging congregation. With age there is wisdom thank God but we also need YOUTH. I wonder if this starts with the dreaded STUDENT, not necessarily doing stuff for students but providing a space for them to be welcome as part of our church; providing a space for those who need it.

Preparing the Way with Prayer

Synod have launched a booklet entitled “Preparing the Way with Prayer” to help churches in praying for mission. It is available for download from here.