i caught up with tony cant this week. tony is a great mission thinker, an aussie, worked with john smith for a season and is now ordained in the c of e. he is currently at st lukes church in walthamstow. here's how he has been applying his mission thinking to the area...
he has been looking for ways to get involved in the community rather than get the community involved in the church. one that came up was the start of a farmers market on sunday. the market was looking for a manager so tony took the role. so as a vicar he works at the farmers market every sunday instead of leading worship in the church building! it's relational stuff... then every market has a stall for a community project. tony as manager said that st lukes church would take it. every week they brew teas and coffees all day and give them away and chat with people and stall holders. so instead of being in church on sunday they are in the market place with the community. they have then developed some postcards to let people know about st lukes but in three designs - one for church people, one for dechurched and one for unchurched with the following straplines:
churched - welcome to st lukes on the high street your local anglican church
dechurched - disillusioned with church? you're not alone
unchurched - not interested in church? neither are we in the ways you are probably thinking about church
this is demanding for the church community - much more so than showing up for an hour on a sunday morning. the church meet for worship and fellowship on a weds night. it's a small church - around a dozen older people and then two families (i think). they are selling the building and working to get a house in the area and invest the money to create income for a sustainable future of a community living out mission on the hight st.
i think this is exactly the kind of imagination and risk taking the church needs. re-configuring around mission and reworking the assets towards sustaining the mission longer term. tony also functions as a chaplain to businesses and shops in the area, again spotting the opportunity to be present in the community.
here's the challenge - the existing church community are older and have been wonderful in coping with this shift but tony was saying how they could do with some more mission energy and imagination in the community to develop a more dynamic core. so if you are anywhere near walthamstow and are currently consuming religion on a pew but either bored or frustrated or too comfortable or want to do something more outward focused then go and join tony and co in their adventure.