Saturday, 29 November 2008

A Day with Bishop John

Once a year, the Bishop of Oxford gathers all the Lay Chairs and Area Deans together for a day together. This was the second such day with Bishop John down in Geralds Cross.

Bishop John spent the morning discussing his new vision document with us - now rechristened Living Faith after the influential evangelism vision day organised in the summer.

The key to this vision is that it must not be seen as a list of things to do, but a helpful tool for deaneries and parishes as they work out their own strategic plans and priorities. John spoke about the need to paint different pictures using a common pallet of primary colours. Each setting will generate a different creativity - based on the same key themes.

These are:
  • Sustaining the Sacred Centre
  • Making Disciples
  • Making a Difference in the World
  • Creating Vibrant Christian Communities
  • Shaping Confident Collaborative Leadership
In our small group we discussed how this might be reflected in a process:
  1. Reflect on how existing practices can be mapped onto the five themes
  2. Consider what could be done to develop work in each of the five key themes
In other words, the Bishop's vision could (and probably should) be used as helpful input for an ongoing visionary/strategic process rather than be seen as another job or programme to be introduced. If deaneries and parishes are already in a planning cycle then this vision will probably be helpful. If not, then they should concentrate on developing some change muscles rather than simply try to keep the bishop happy.

In the afternoon we discussed women bishops and the troubles of the Anglican communion. There was encouragement from the floor for patience and time to listen to all view points...

Bishop Stephen put forward his new scheme. This is an idea to develop a system for Mystery Worshippers in a Deanery. Apparently he's done it before with some interesting results. The basic idea is that each church agrees to send out church members to visit as many of the other churches in the deanery as possible. At the end of the year the results are collated and churches are given feedback about how a random visitor found the experience...

This sounds like a great idea and could be really valuable. As Stephen points out, visitors remember:
  1. the welcome they receive
  2. the quality of the music
  3. and whether the sermon is OK or boring
These are all things that churches can work on and could do with feedback on. Deaneries have been asked to say if they would like to take part in a pilot. I think MK Deanery should go for it!

All in all this was a good day. Nothing life changing, but worth doing. In a busy life with people spread out over three counties, it's very good for people to get together from time to time - even if it's only a few of us... There were comments about another diocesan (or archdeaconry) conference, so perhaps we might do this on a bigger scale in 2010...

1 comment:

Paul said...

I would definately volunteer for this - giving churches marks out of ten. Do you provide fancy dress so that we can hide our identity