From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures
Recently the Mission Strategy Committee has begun to use the Presbytery Strategy for Engagement to Grow Mission to help strengthen congregations in mission. Initially the committee is using the strategy with Tuggeranong Congregation to assist in strengthening them in mission and to produce learnings and insights that will be useful for resourcing other parts of the Presbytery in mission.
For the stage that Tuggeranong is at in mission with its local community, the focus of the strategy is to ‘Appreciate so to remain dynamic’. It became apparent that one of the strengths of Tuggeranong for its stage in mission is appreciation of one another. This appreciation builds capacity and inspires and lifts the energy of the congregation for mission. Here are some of the ways this appreciation happens:
· Helping congregation members to see that they have lots to offer, convincing people they have skill sets, convincing people of the gifts they have. Here, the gift of identifying the gifts in others is important. Identifying their passions – helping congregation see what you can see. You can do it, you are really good at this;
· People feeling like they are doing something that matters and that they enjoy;
· Empowering the congregation;
· Giving the congregation something to look forward to;
· Setting up small wins. When the congregation achieves something they thought they couldn’t, then the energy is high;
· Arranging fun events that the congregation enjoys;
· Providing relevant educational opportunities to equip people further for what they have to offer;
· Seeing and hearing about connections of the church with the local community, and local folk wanting to grow further in those connections.
With hindsight some of the important questions Tuggeranong has asked itself (and continue to ask) along its journey into mission are:
· What is church rather than what are we doing? Many were doing things they enjoy doing, but there was the need to focus on why they were doing them. Are we just busy, and not focussed on where we are going?
· A shift from focus on program – these are things that we are doing, to asking where can we see God already at work, and where is a gap into which we can contribute?
· What is the good news we are selling? How do we talk about it? How do we embody it?
· What are the multiplicity of connections we can offer for relationship with our local community that provide opportunities for further connection for those interested?
· In terms of worship services, what can we let go of so that it is not just for us, but for others? What suits people who are not already coming?
· What is our motive? It is not to get people into church, but to be caring and help lead them to where they want to go. Being God’s love in action.
Next week I plan to share more of the Committee’s learnings and insights from the strategy and its engagement with Tuggeranong that I hope will be useful for resourcing you and other parts of the Presbytery in mission.