God for All helps Cumbria residents and visitors explore the reality of God and respond to his love and truth. It strengthens and encourages each Christian person to live for Christ, and make their faith

known through words and actions.

 

Over the last few years churches across Cumbria have been talking, praying and planning together. The result is "God for All" – a fresh way to help everyone in Cumbria discover more of God and God?s purpose for their lives, and a fresh way to encourage churches to be vibrant and loving communities serving and worshipping God. It brings together the different facets of the commitment of each denomination to grow disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

Introduction

God for All builds on the prayers, planning and work completed across churches in Cumbria over the past five years, putting mission at the heart of what we do. There’s been a focus on developing strategies for future ministry, outreach and buildings; all to grow disciples. God for All draws this together.

 

As the partner denominations – the Methodist, United Reformed and Anglican churches - move ahead it is important to reflect on the questions, queries and suggestions which have been fed back so far. This is not an exhaustive list – more questions will be answered on the God for All website – but it is important you have responses to some important points raised to date.

 

Vision and strategy

‘God for All’ is the ecumenical banner we are using to describe the vision for helping everyone in Cumbria discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives. It brings together the different facets of each denomination’s commitment to grow disciples.

 

Since the launch of the Diocese of Carlisle’s vision ‘Growing Disciples’ in 2011, churches have been talking, praying and planning together. That draws on the ecumenical partnerships between the Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed churches. Two of the ‘critical success factors’ identified in Growing Disciples were ‘to develop new models of ministry to address the future’ and ‘create a new strategy for outreach for those who are not currently involved with the church’. God for All brings the results of all that work together and marks the point where we shift from planning to doing. It should not be seen as a new initiative but as the outworking of Growing Disciples.

 

A Strategy Steering Group has been formed to help enable and facilitate this process. It is made up of clergy and laity from all three denominations and, in recent months, its members have been drawing up policy guidelines and forms of structure which will provide important resources for church communities as God for All comes to be. The latest information will be communicated to all our partners at the earliest opportunity in a variety of ways. A new God for All website will officially launch towards the end of May and will provide an important platform for information to be fed out and suggestions and comments to be fed back. Senior leaders of all three denominations will also dedicate substantial time and effort to offer support and advice as church communities look to embrace God for All and the outworking of the strategy.

 

Outreach

The God for All strategy includes a series of new appointments dedicated to enabling mission and outreach. An Evangelism Enabler will provide support, help and encouragement across churches. The purpose of this role will be to enable others to drive evangelisation through God for All. A Fresh Expressions enabler will help Mission Communities and local churches develop new ways of church for those who don’t currently ‘do’ church and will have responsibility for actively contributing to and supporting pioneer training. A part-time digital evangelist will use digital media to help people discover more of God. This role is not about promoting the ‘church’ but is about promoting the possibility of God. These various outreach posts will be Anglican appointments with the Diocese of Carlisle employing them. However the clear intention is that their work will embrace all three denominations.

 

Ministry

Already, Anglican Deanery Mission Community Shaping Groups have provided clergy and laity in all three partner denominations regular opportunities to engage in initial discussion about forming Mission Communities. The next stage will now see the creation of Area Steering Groups to further enable this ecumenical work. Those groups will steer local discussion to determine the identity of possible Mission Communities in your area. It is hoped Area Steering Groups will be created by June 2015. Coupled with this, a revised ’Archway’ document will soon be published which details the necessary phases – Consent, Commission and Celebration - which will be followed to enable the creation of Mission Communities. The Strategy Steering Group will also feed out important guideline documentation including models of leadership roles and leadership role descriptions both at mission community and local church level.

 

The normal expectation would be for a church or parish to be run by a team. However an individual needs to be identified who maintains overall responsibility for the team’s work and who can act as a first point of contact for anyone in the church or wider community. The same criteria will apply for Mission Community Leaders.

 

The number of paid ministers in each Mission Community will be decided at a local level by churches and the Area Steering Group, in co-operation with county-wide leadership. Across the county we can only have the number of ministers we are able and ready to pay for. The number of paid ministers will be informed, in part, by the level of giving in a mission community and Deanery. However, mutual support will continue to be part of how we fund ministry – so some Deaneries and mission communities will contribute less than their costs of ministry and others will contribute towards the costs of ministry in areas that cannot otherwise afford it.

 

But the strategy is not simply about paid ministers. Instead it is intended enable and empower everyone – ordained and laity - to identify and utilise their skills for mission and to help as many people as possible have the opportunity to know God and God’s purpose in their lives. Until clear proposals have been put forward for the make-up of individual mission communities it is difficult to be precise about the numbers.

 

Buildings

Any decision about a building’s future is one that will be taken locally (and within the mission community) and will not be imposed. That said, as Mission Communities come together, they should reflect and review whether they have the right buildings in the right places.

 

Mission and timeline

Implementing new strategies for ministry, outreach and buildings is only the start. It will be essential that this change enables more and more people to continue to have greater opportunity to discover more of God and that also churches continue to be places of lively worship with mission at their heart. So as we move forward we will have to prayerfully and carefully monitor and review our Mission Action Plans to ensure that there remains a focus for mission at the heart of what we do, and that all Christians are encouraged and equipped in their witness, service and ministry.

 

God for All prayer

God for all, you reached out to the world in your Son Jesus Christ.

Help us to reach out in faith and love and witness to all.

God for all, you send your Holy Spirit to empower and gift your Church.

By your Spirit help us,

grow in unity,

grow as followers of Jesus Christ,

and grow your kingdom in Cumbria and in this world. Amen.

 

For further information visit: WWW.GODFORALL.ORG.UK

 

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