Prayer and Vision

Prayer and Vision

At our recent Prayer and Vision Day we came to the conclusion that we are going to close St Oswald’s and let the Medieval Historical Society have it as a museum. The congregation can then move to St Thomas’ thereby making sure that we have a full church every week.

 

OK NO WE DIDN’T! The day was not necessarily about a radical rethink for the future. Having vision is like having strategy. In context, it is about how we endeavour to be faithful to the mission of the church – to serve Christ and make him known. The day was about seeking purpose in our relationship with God as we move toward the 2020’s.

 

Our prayers for the day centred around Psalm 23. The refrain “and I will trust in you Oh Lord – for your endless mercy follows me” led me to ask how are we nurturing a trusting relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ personally as well as corporately. Furthermore, how are we enabling others to come into fellowship with Christ? In the Psalm we note that God offers:

  • relationship,
  • rest,
  • refreshment,
  • healing,
  • guidance and
  • purpose.

Even in dark and difficult testing times God offers protection for the soul, faithfulness, security, hope and hospitality. God wants to bless us abundantly, and what he requires of us is to offer that blessing to the community. So, are we fit for purpose? What should we develop and what should we leave behind?

 

The Archdeacon of Cleveland led us through some diverse areas to think about including how the world has changed in recent years and how are we responding?

For instance, people no longer believe in absolute truth, individualism has taken over from community, spirituality is wider and more pick and mix in our post modernism (and even that is now old hat)! Christianity can feel marginalised and is just another among many religious practices. Sadly, it is also often regarded as ‘fake’. We live in challenging times. So, what is the future for our church?

 

Acts 2:17

Quoting Joel, St Luke wrote ‘“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams”’.

 

Vision and dreams (or hopes) help us to take stock and assess where we are, so that we may be clearer about where we need to be going. So here are a few reflections that emerged from those who came on the day:

  • Focus on who we are and what we have and not dwell on what we haven’t got. No more “what if’s” or “if only’s”.
  • Face the challenges and where necessary refocus our energies.
  • How can we be more inclusive and make church really accessible to all?
  • If we do nothing, we can only expect to decline in numbers.
  • It may mean changes in how we do things and what we offer.
  • We need to consider where our time, money and energies are going and ask ourselves what should be our priorities.
  • Do a skills and gifts audit.
  • We cannot do everything, and the vicar can’t be everywhere, but there are some obvious gaps – such as with young people.
  • It may mean merging some activities to release time and people for other things, such as a Youth Café.

 

Where now?

Over the next few weeks I would encourage you to continue to discuss, pray and seek vision for our churches. We want to allow our thoughts to develop and the right strategies to emerge. For sure, standing still is not an option and priorities need to be set. To this end I would invite you to come together again for a plenary time on Saturday 5th August in the Vicarage marquee from 10.30am – 12.30pm. Our starting point will be (as one person reflected on the day) –  ‘Believe in what you are being called to do and use the resources you have, purposefully, to further the Kingdom.

 

May God bless our churches as we continue to develop our vision and sense of purpose.

With every Blessing

Nigel Chapman

Vicar