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Darren

tom bandy recently came to australia to talk about "the thriving church." now i didnt resonate with everything he said and will be spending most of this week writing reflections on the conversations with him but there was something that did really hit me like a brick to the back of the head.

he'd talked about the idea that the church needs to set up its core values and core beliefs in order to allow for mission to happen. his process then would be to allow people to, in their journey of spiritual growth to come up with their calling, the mission which they feel they are called to do.

what he said was that when a group of people came to the pastor with a missional idea that came from the ground up, inspired by their spiritual growth the pastor would need to do each of these things:

a) line up with the core values
b) line up with core beliefs
c) line up with executive guidelines (ie if there was an executive decision that said we'd not spend more than $500 or that we would not run any nude worship services...)

after that was done, and if the idea did not conflict with these things then the church/pastor HAD NO CHOICE but to resource it.

i was interested in this idea that there was no choice to resource it, the current church structure says we set up an application and beg and plead and play a game in order to get resources to do our mission.

you're right, this isnt a business, so we shouldnt be using these terms. instead we should look at what our core values and beliefs are then realise that we have no choice but to resource groups like moot... not because we're declining, but because we have no choice. we already know that this is a missional opportunity with a comunity of people involved, so we should resource it without blinking.

once again i say not because we're declining and need to find new ways but because this is a group of people who have been called by god to reach out to a community and spread the good news that jesus spoke of.

rant over...

scott

Perhaps it is because we compete for patrons and treat the gospel as a commodity to be traded. If that is the case then investing in the future becomes the "death" of the current model. The current model is not the devil so please do not think that I am anti-anything. I am saying that, at least in my experience, the sharing of resources is problematic to our dismay. It is hard and sad for those of us who feel called.

george

At the risk of sounding harsh and being misunderstood may I submit to you that what needs to be done is a moving away from the clergy/laity mindset and becoming one of the brethren? Taking a regular job and becoming on of the people. Please don't flame me orsay I don't understand because I do. May Daddy's Peace be on and in you.

Peace

Ian Mobsby

Cheers Jonny, I appreciate the comment and your support. I totally agree with you about the CofE and the need to resource innovation. Mission-shaped church is great but we do need resources. We'll see what happens next. It is more than frustrating that my efforts need now to focus on fund raising rather than getting on with the stuff of mission which we are wanting to do eerrr!!

I hear that we are not the first alt worship group who have been let down by the Jerusalem Trust, apparently it has happened to a few groups I have just heard about. We in moot are not giving up!!

Ian

Lucy

What exactly does moot need money for? Making relationships with people doesnt cost money, nor does worshipping God.

Lucy

gareth

cheers for posting this jonny. Its a real shame moot was not successful for funding from the Jerusalem - but we are exploring other options.

Lucy - The money is needed because Moot needs a full-time worker to carry out stuff like: -
• supporting moot members pastorally
• furthering and developing relationships with the local community
• growing links with other local church groups who share a similar vision to us
• enabling moot to meet more than twice a month and developing existing services
• to help fulfill some of the requests we have had to help other groups develop alt.worship services
• allow moot to intergrate better with St Matthews, the church it meets in, and conversly to allow St Matthews to

All of this could not be done as moot stands now, and all of these things are urgently needed, and only someone who works pretty much full-time can do these things - it simply is not feasible for people working full time to do some of these things as well.

If you look around the alt.worship/emerging church scene you will see that many groups are finding it tough enough to do services let alone any other type of missional activity. I think getting a few people working full-time within some of these groups would help them to grow and develop.

I echo Jonny's comments that it is not enough to support innovative projects in writing alone - they also need hard cash.

I think the C of E seems to be doublethinking in saying it is all for new and emerging types of church, and that this in someways could be the future for the C of E growing yet it also then turns around and says we can't support them. Duh!?

Lucy

Gareth,

thanks.

However, I think it needs a shift in thinking here in the alt scene to one where all people of the church are doing pastoral stuff(looking after each others needs) and mission(looking after the needs of the community) as part of daily church living, then the perceived need for full time paid workers to do it could be abandoned, and church could get back to what it is intended to be.

Lucy

Darren Rowse

Great discussion going on here! It is an issue that I've thought about a lot lately and found myself going backwards and forwards a little on it.

On one hand I'm incredibly grateful for the support my own denomination has given me in giving us a seeding grant to help get us going for two years. I'm realizing how unique a position they are taking in wanting to not only give permission but wanting to put their money where their mouth is. I hope that this becomes more and more common for denominations. If we want to see the Church survive into the decades and years ahead then we need to see a significant investment from the established church into those exploring new directions.

On the other hand I do wonder if we need to explore some new ways of thinking about clergy and new ways about sustaining ourselves financially.

I can only talk about my own community and my own context, but I've been challenged recently to readjust what I've been thinking about 'full time ministry'.

For me it was always a goal for a similar list of reasons to what Gareth outlined above - but recently I've been wondering why we seem to want a paid minister to do a lot of those sorts of roles. I guess I've personally been feeling God leading me in a direction that Lucy is alluding to and am attempting to create a community where it is not just the 'minister/clergy' that does the pastoral care, community development, running of gatherings, linking with other churches but where there is a community of disciples who are all responding to the call of Jesus by fulfilling these things.

Now because i do have some giftings, training and experience in some of this stuff I might take some of it on - but I'm hoping to move to a position where we have an environment where participation means I'm just one of many doing this stuff.

Having said this (I said I go backwards and forwards on this stuff didn't I?) I still think there is a role for paid ministry/clergy. Leadership is important and each community will identify different things they will want/need these leaders to do. The question then comes to how to fund it?

I think its time we did some serious talking about this question and explore some options that might include a combination of:

- Denominational (and interdenominational) grants/support. We need to keep communicating to the powers that be the need for experimentation, new forms of church etc. I think its very important for denominations and established churches to support what we do.

- Bi-vocational Ministry - Its a bit of a hobby horse at the moment for me but I'm feeling more and more drawn to the 'secular' workforce and have been blogging about it a bit lately. I think its something more and more of us 'clergy' types should explore for a multitude of reasons including sustainability - but also for reasons of mission, reality check etc. I've made a conscious decision this year to start my own business and am finding it an incredibly liberating experience that is invigorating my ministry and giving me so many opportunities for missional encounters.

- Self Funding - I've been challenging my community lately to step up to the mark in their giving. Why should we expect our denomination to pay me to care for them? If we decide that one of the roles of a leader in our community is pastoral care....or worship leading...or preaching...(things that largely focus upon the group itself) shouldn't they contribute to the financing of such a role? I thin we have to bite the bullet as communities at some point and stop putting our hand out to our denominations to fund us and work on ways of sustaining ourselves.

- Churches running Missional Enterprises - I'm seeing more and more churches that are running businesses or that are developing income streams. Often these income streams are missional in their focus. Some I've seen include opening cafes, pizza shops, galleries, gift shops, starting guitar schools, hiring our their buildings to community groups, starting book stores, running skills based courses in the community, running welfare programs and getting grants from governments, running multi media courses etc. In this way many of them are not only creating an income stream but are developing proximity in their communities.

Ok - its now 1.20am here in Melbourne and I've been thinking about this way too long. Hope its been a worthwhile contribution to this good discussion. Will probably post this over at my own blog too.

Lucy

As some know, I live in a community along the lines of what darren is describing, except without the leaders.

It's been going for 7 years without any financial backing from anywhere. There are problems sometimes when people dont pay rent, but it is nevertheless possible to sustain ourselves with everyone contributing.

Now Im not saying everyone should do it the way we do, as it is intense, but it does seem that there is all this talk of priesthood of believers, and yet still a desire to be fed by authority.

Forgive me if I'm cynical, but I doubt if the denominations will ever fully embrace new stuff financially because it's a challenge to their foundations, and also their jobs.

Self funding is an area that needs to be looked at I agree. Also there is an element of looking at priorities. The only religion worth anything is that which cares for people in need.

I was thinking further about Moot not being funded, and I wonder whether God is doing this deliberately to make people think about things in a different way.

Lucy

george

For all the talk I hear about alt. Church or emerging church or postmodern church or house church or simple church It seems that most all of the so called "leaders" are just trying to build the same thing as the old thing only with a new look! As much as I hear people talk about the "preisthood of all believers" they still at the same time talk of "clergy" When will we quit talking from both sides of our mouth. Ahh! I'll get off of the soapbox nobodys listening anyway!

Peace

Bald Man

Ultimately, the issue isn't money. The issue is time. Speaking for myself, I have no interest in setting up a new structure in order to sit on top of it. I do, however, want more time to pursue mission, to equip and encourage my fellow-priests to do the same. I'd love to take the 40-50 hours each week I spend working in the office - like now :D - and devote it to things I cannot do from here. This is why money is important.

Paid clergy (or whatever term you choose) is not inconsistant with the priesthood of all believers. Paul says a worker is worth his pay. The NT seems to acknowledge that there are benefits gained by freeing some believers from their vocation in order that they might use that time to pursue mission.

jonny

all good stuff - thanks for the contributions.

i like your suggestions of ways of funding darren (rowse). over here it is pretty uncommon for any alt worship group to employ anyone. priesthood of all believers, sharing pastoral care, behaving like adults rather than being dependent are all par for the course. an exception to this is visions in york who employ sue to be creative a bit like the vision of cafe church to employ a digital artist i guess. but the down side is that life is busy certainly in london so that getting things done can be difficult. so i am very sympathetic to moot looking to get ian working. it's not a clergy laity thing - at least i don't think so. that is simply pragmatic! a lot of groups are connected with the c of e over here - and you might as well work with the context you are in. there is a window of opportuntiy there at the moment. the church needs good people ordained and people who will help reimagine the notion of what being ordained is all about i guess.

cheers

StoryTeller

Great to read this stuff.

Ironic that the emerging church begs for funding from the institutional church, don't you think?

The whole issue of funding is not only one that faces the emerging church. All churches, emerging or otherwise, are going to have to face this issue soon. Rising levels of personal debt will see giving drop dramatically as credit companies dictate what people do with their money.


Jenny

Personally I think it's out of order to name the trust that didn't give you money and blame them for letting you down. Anyone involved in funding knows that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. I don't think JT should be seen as the baddies here. It's a wider issue and maybe there are good reasons why they haven't funded any alt. worship groups.

Randy

Check out Jason Clark's thread on a similar thought line. Reading this with the discussion at http://jasonclark.emergent-uk.com has been helpful.

Sarita

I am a lay-leader in an emerging church in Texas. I do a lot of the "priesthood of the believer" stuff that y'all are talking about - meeting people for coffee, running events, helping to raise money to keep the lights on . . .and I tell you what, it's hard.

We have a good network of people who volunteer, but most people who have "real jobs" can't do some of the ministry that takes during-the-business-day phone calls and meetings, and they're understandably too tired to run things on the weekends. They want to be helpful, but they don't have the time or energy to plan events.

I think one of the effects of not having enough money is that we limit the choices of people who are gifted in pastoral care.

If my church could afford to hire me even part time, I think I could do a much better job of helping people find a way to get plugged in and discipled so that they know better how to be priests for one another.

So, that's one of the reasons why I still think having some kind of formal, trained clergy is important. I don't underestimate the value of a seminary education, either. If we're going to be "reinterpreting Scripture" for the po mo's, I think we'd damn well be able to interpret Scripture to begin with.

BUT I am excited about exploring, in the context of the emerging church, how we can make clergy-ism less of a drain on finances. I'd start with scholarships that make getting to seminary cheaper. Maybe new seminaries all togehter.

this was totally long and my first post. sorry to be a tacky texan.

Scouse Phil

Hi Jonny

Sorry to resurrect an old discussion thread but as a fairly recent pilgrim who has joined the Fresh Expressions/Emerging Church journey I just had to respond on this subject.

By way of introduction, my name is Phil Green and I am an early forty-something Reader of some 14 years standing. I am licensed to a tough evangelical Anglican urban parish in Liverpool Diocese UK. I am also one of a team of five from our church (St John and St James, Orrell Hey, Bootle)- consisting of one Ordained Pioneer Minister, one Reader and three lay people already involved in three Fresh Expressions arising out of Community initiaves currently undertaking the Mission Shaped Ministry Course run by Liverpool Diocese. This is by far the best course I have been on, certainly since I was licensed, if not since I have been a Christian!

One of the five on the course is an Ordained Pioneer Minister - Frances Shoesmith, who I firmly believe, along with the recent ordination of one of our own members as an Ordained Local Minister, has been a key appointment for us. Her input and example, along with that of her husband Steve have inspired me to seriously re-think the direction my Reader ministry will take in the future.

I have been deeply exercised by this resource question of late. Much as I admire Archbishops Rowan and John for their genuine deep commitment to Fresh Expressions of church, and their belief that this is a long-term initiative and not just the latest fad - at present I would estimate that the balance of resources, financial, staffing, time, premises etc is probably 95%-5% in favour of established/inherited church. Even the most otpimistic streak within me would have to concede that for the balance to be redressed even just as far as 80%-20% will take years if not decades, if ever at all!

I have to disagree with Ian Mobsby's comment (who I admire hugely), that you don't need resources to build relationships. Maybe you don't need financial resources but what we need most of all is time resource, - which starkly means staff/personel, both lay and ordained, who sense strongly a genuine call from God away from a promary focuson inherited church and more towards Fresh Expression work. The Archbishops are asking all the right questions, but I feel they need to begin to provide the right answers and actually seriously address these issues, which will mean making bold and controversial decisions and which will result in diverting resources (yes, sorry Ian, but this includes diveritng financial as well as human resources) to Fresh Expressions Work, and this needs to strart to be seen to be happening in the next 12 months and not just over the next 10 years.

Where I feel this may affect me personally is that there may be Readers/Licensed Lay Ministers like myself, who are already accredited. licensed, recognised and authorised centrally by the Church of England and who can begin to explore Pioneer Reader roles. After all, there are Stipendiary Readers being appointed to inherited church positions (we have two in Liverpool Diocese who by all accounts are both doing great work.) I am not suggesting Pioneer Readers be paid, simply that it become a recognised ministry alongside Ordained Pioneer Ministers and Lay Pioneer Ministers, (although there will inevitably be a degree of overlap between Pioneer Readers and Lay Pioneer Ministers.

I am also in a bit of a difficult position because our Senior Vicar also doubles up as the Archdeacon of Liverpool in his spare time - don't ask how - it's too long a story! We are very fortunate in Liverpool to have an excellent Bishops Core Team, whose heart is definitely in the right place as far as Fresh Expressions are concerned. But even here I feel, there are still some tough issues which need to be grappled with, engaged with and addressed.

As you can imagine some of the conversations I have had with my Vicar are interesting and sparky - although I empahasise that I love the bones of him and without trying to sound patronising or condescending, just want to help him to see that he has a crucial strategic position within the Diocese which as an enabler for helping Fresh Expressions to move forwards in the right direction across the Liverpool Diocese.

I shall say goodbye now - at last Jonny cries - I hope you didn't lose the will to live too early on in this blog! Any thoughts you may have, do let me know. In closing, my other priority this year is to get our folks to truly engage with what is happening in during Liverpool's time as European Capital of Culture during 2008. (we are situated about 4 miles north of Liverpool City Centre). I long for them to find out what God is doing in our city, and it is genuinely exciting, and to join in, with their family/friends/neighbours/colleagues and to encounter God there and to see what he can do and is already doing! If you get the chance, why not pop up and find out for yourself! If you are ever up this way, just let me know if you want some advice on what to do and see etc - alternatively the Liverpool 08 website is a really good place to start.

Keep up the fabulous work Jonny.

Very best regards

Phil

Scouse Phil

Cheers Jonny, I appreciate the comment and your support. I totally agree with you about the CofE and the need to resource innovation. Mission-shaped church is great but we do need resources. We'll see what happens next. It is more than frustrating that my efforts need now to focus on fund raising rather than getting on with the stuff of mission which we are wanting to do eerrr!! - Ian Mobsby

What exactly does moot need money for? Making relationships with people doesnt cost money, nor does worshipping God. - Lucy

Jonny/Ian/Lucy/everyone else

Oops.....note to self - before sending an e-mail read through the previous threads and make sure you attribute the right quote to the right person!!

I am currently devouring a huge portion of humble pie and would like to profusely apologise to Ian Mobsby for saying that I disagreed with something he didn't actually say - when in fact he said the exact opposite!! ...and Lucy although I disagree with you on this point, having read the rest of your comments it sounds as though you are doing some fab stuff too - and I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment that 'forgive me if I'm cynical, but I doubt if the denominations will ever fully embrace new stuff financially because it's a challenge to their foundations, and also their jobs.'

I shall now focus my efforts on continuing to devour that very tempting slice of humble pie and surf the net for a couple of appropriate training courses namely "Idiots Guide To Reading and Replying To E-mails " and "Essential Components Of Succint Grovelling"- there must be available somewhere to help me in my time of need!!

Phil

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