Tuesday, 30 June 2009

CafeChurch is go!

Had a great meeting this evening about CafeChurch. We gathered a group of people from across MK so that Mike Baldwin and I could give some feedback from the training session we attended on 16th May (See CafeChurch Training).

There were three (and a bit) people from Cornerstone, two from New Bradwell, two from Woughton and a couple of part people (as it were) from Watling Valley...

We had a good discussion about the merits and issues concerned with the CafeChurch option which I felt was realistic and sensible. We decided that this project was well worth exploring and have commited to aim for a launch event (with carols) at Christmas.

Our focus (initailly) will be on the town centre, working with Cornerstone but with a team gathered from across the city. If this goes well, the same team may then work with another group of local churches to help them launch a CafeChurch in their area. Ernesto compared this plan to the menonite approach to barn building - everyone gathers to build the barn for one family - and does the same for others when required.

We're going to see if we can attend an existing CafeChurch nearby and then meet again in September to move this forward. Should be fun!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Faster Run

5k in 24 min 44 sec
(Record still stands at 24 min and 40! - If I'd know how close I was, I might have given it more speed in the last half mile... gutted!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

You have been notified...

At some point yesterday evening, large notices appeared in the field opposite our house. This plot of ground has been empty ever since we first moved into Milton Keynes, nine years ago. According to the local plan it's supposed to be set aside for an independent school...

Putting two and two together, it looks like the Homes and Communities Agency have the task of handling the land - possibly making it available for affordable housing...

I'm not a NIMBY, but I was a little affronted by the way this was done - slapping in "Keep off!" signs on a Friday night with no warning... Not the most subtle way of dealing with locals...

Monday, 22 June 2009

Area Deans

Went to the Area Deans' Day at Aston Clinton. There was a good presentation and discussion led by the Wedding Project. I was interested to learn that Watling Valley are the second busiest parish in the Archdeaconry!

Sunday, 21 June 2009


Morning services at St George's Wolverton, Holy Cross Two Mile Ash and St Mary's Shenley. Spoke about the pressures on young men and fathers in our society - on Father's Day - and got an interesting response - particularly from older mothers who can see what their sons have to face...

Kids away at scout camp, so Isla and I had lunch out and then went see Star Trek.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


Deanery Plan 2009
First Draft

This draft Deanery Plan has been produced after a long period of review, conversation, consultation, listening and discussion which began in January 2009.

This is intended to be a draft document which will act as a starting point for discussion. It is not being offered for a yes/no vote, but is an invitation for further reflection. Everything in this document should be regarded as “up for discussion”.

Please feed all your thoughts, ideas and comments in to me by Monday 7th September when the Deanery Strategy Group will meet again. [Deadline now October 31st]

We will then aim to present a final proposal at Deanery Synod on Wednesday 23rd September. [Now discussion at Synod on 23rd September followed by decision in January 2010]

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Living Faith in Milton Keynes

Strategy for Mission and Ministry
In Milton Keynes Deanery: 2009

Download the Document as a pdf

Notes: What is this document?
Introduction: Living Faith in Milton Keynes
Sustaining the Sacred Centre
Making Disciples
Shaping Confident, Collaborative Leadership
Creating Vibrant Christian Communities
Making a Difference in the World
Appendix A: Our Understanding of Ecumenism
Appendix B: Our Transition Plan
Appendix C: The Dream of the LSM Project Group
Appendix D: Meetings, Teams, Groups and Committees

Introduction: Living Faith in Milton Keynes

Living Faith in Milton Keynes

In a time of global economic and ecological problems it is important that local churches dig deep to discover rich spiritual and theological resources that will help them to respond in a meaningful way.

In Milton Keynes, the concept of “sustainability” is crucially important. We need to find ways of sustaining ourselves by re-focusing on the Risen Christ who should always be at the centre of our life and work. We need to find sustainable patterns of discipleship in a society which encourages long working hours and produces over-burdened and over-stressed people. We need sustainable and vibrant Christian communities which will continue to make a difference in society. We need a sustainable approach to ministry which will in turn sustain, encourage and develop individual believers and communities across the city.

“Sustainability” is a response to the call of Christ to be good stewards of all that he has entrusted to us.

“Sustainability” is also essential if we are to keep on serving the communities in which we are set. Sustainable Christian communities are often able to stay active when all else fails. They are God’s generous gift to human society.

Finally, “sustainability” is a witness to a world obsessed with the consumption and accumulation of more and more - money, wealth, popularity and power. A church which truly understands sustainability has a great deal to share with the people around it.

This strategic plan for mission and ministry uses the framework of the diocesan vision statement, Living Faith, but it has been developed in relation to our specific local context. It is an Anglican strategy for the Anglican Deanery, but it has been thought through with an awareness of our local ecumenical situation (see Appendix A for more about our approach to ecumenism).

It is only intended to inform decisions at deanery level, but we hope it will also prove helpful for the churches and parishes of Milton Keynes.

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Sustaining the Sacred Centre

Sustaining the Sacred Centre
“This is about encouraging and enabling clergy and lay people to deepen their enjoyment of God, and to recognise God’s presence in everyday life.”
Christian discipleship can be a hard path to follow and there are often real challenges for us to face. We all need to realise that it is impossible to serve Christ without the resources that come from our relationship with him.

There is a “sacred centre” to our life as disciples and communities and that centre is God. When we loose our focus on him or allow something else to steal our attention, it is inevitable that we become weary, tired and purposeless - and begin to loose hope.

In Milton Keynes we are conscious that church life can often be dominated by meetings and responsibilities. There is so much that we can do or feel we should engage with. At the same time we often unintentionally give the impression that the maintenance of our church institutions is the only way that God’s people can serve him - or that God is only concerned with things that happen in church.

It is important that we give each other permission and time to encounter God. Our life with God is like a fresh spring or a deep well that will sustains us and helps us to live.

The Deanery of Milton Keynes will:
  • Seek to provide more space for prayer in deanery meetings. This will
  • require more discipline and careful planning. There is no reason why
  • meetings should not finish before 9:30pm and include serious time for
  • corporate worship and prayer.
  • Encourage deanery chapter to take the lead. Chapter should give more
  • priority to their own enjoyment of God and should make time for away
  • days, times of prayer and other opportunities for refreshment.
  • Continue to look for ways to develop prayer and spirituality. This should be
  • a priority for the work of the synod. There will therefore need to be regular
  • space to share and discuss ideas and good practice.
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Making Disciples

Making Disciples
“This is about the core task left to us by Jesus. It usually takes the
form of accompanying people on a journey to faith by the inten-
tional use of nurture courses, mentoring, the catechumenate, or
simple friendship.”
Disciples who make Disciples

Jesus called people to follow him and learn from him. These disciples were then given the task of calling more people to join them as they continued to extend the circle of Christ’s community. We are disciples who make disciples.

Discipleship is a life-long journey and one which we are all called to make. As churches we should therefore seek to provide opportunities for all ages to grow as people of God. We should seek to nurture those within the church and those who are not yet members.

In Milton Keynes many of our churches are very good at discipleship; others
could do with more help, support resources and encouragement.

Courses and Programmes

One possible way of assisting people in their development as disciples is to make courses available on a regular basis. It is also helpful to have people who are consciously nurturing, mentoring or encouraging others.

Alpha MK has been promoting the Alpha course for some time and it would be good for us to encourage local churches to put on more regular courses for discipleship and nurture, including Alpha, Emmaus, Essence and so on...

While it is good to have courses focused on new disciples, we also need opportunities for existing
church members to grow and develop. There are a number of possibilities available, including the CPAS course, Growing Leaders, which has already been used by two of our parishes.

Putting on high quality courses and programmes can require a huge amount of effort, time and resources, so it may be good to look for opportunities to work together in wider partnerships.

Fresh Expressions

Many people are able to grow and flourish as Christians within existing and inherited forms of church. The Church of England believes that we also need fresh expressions of church which are primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet members of any church. There are various ideas in circulation including CaféChurch, alternative worship, Messy Church, new monasticism and so on... These options are not for everyone, but they should become part of our tool kit as churches. Some of them will be developed by local churches, but others may be cross-parochial and require us to think and work together as a deanery.

We have a fresh expressions project group in Milton Keynes which is in the process of becoming a FEAST (a Fresh Expressions Area Strategy Team). This group is working to inspire and inform, provide training, build networks and support our entrepreneurs. It would be good for the deanery to support this work.

Discipleship must be a priority area for us but we should also encourage a healthy, balanced and sustainable approach. We need to promote an understanding of Christian life and service which encompasses the whole of our lives, not just the things we do in church. We also need to ensure that we are all giving time to “sustain the sacred centre” of our own lives and that no-one is overstretched or exhausted by their commitment to the church.

The Deanery of Milton Keynes will:
  • Encourage and support Alpha MK.
  • Support the development of fresh expressions in Milton Keynes.
  • Provide opportunities for churches and individuals to learn more about the tools and programmes which could be used to nurture disciples.
  • Provide some financial support for parishes who want to launch new initiatives aimed at “making disciples”. We would like to make £500 available to each parish from our reserves.
  • Hold each other accountable for the way we spend our time. We must keep on reminding each other of the need for a balanced and healthy approach to life and work.
  • Continue to look for ways to equip and support discipleship in local churches. This should be a priority for the work of the synod. There will therefore need to be regular space to share and discuss ideas and good practice.
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Shaping Confident, Collaborative Leadership

Shaping Confident, Collaborative Leadership
“This is about developing leadership using all the resources available to the local church. It would involve consolidation in some parishes and new work in others to build up shared ministry in teams, with appropriate training and support.”
Anglican Ministry in Milton Keynes

The Anglican Church understands ministry in three dimensions:
Diaconal: A call to loving service, with particular emphasis on practical care, administration and witness to the vulnerable or marginalised.

Priestly: A call to nurture the believing community through service of the Word, intercessory prayer, reconciliation and sacramental action.

Episcopal: A call to “oversee” the church, speaking to it and for it, empowering others in ministry and tending its development as an authentic expression of Christ’s body.
Although these dimensions of ministry are visibly expressed through the ordained offices of deacons, priests and bishops, they are often exercised through different individuals in particular contexts. These official roles should be seen as the visible expression of the ministry that the whole people of God is called to fulfil.

Many of our lay people are willing to play active roles within the church community. We believe that it is important that we continue to develop ways of training, authorising and supporting lay people who are called to service in the Church. We observe an increasing tendency for lay people to be involved in leading worship, preaching, administration and pastoral care. This should be regarded as a good thing and the deanery must continue to look for ways to encourage the positive development of lay ministry.

All baptised members of the Church in Milton Keynes are called to serve Christ within the church family and also in the communities where they live and work. This calling is crucially important and we should always remember that the deanery exists to enable a local ministry of loving service and Christian witness to happen.

Ordained, Licensed and Authorised Ministry

We believe that ordained, licensed and authorised ministry is important for the task of nurturing and sustaining the Christian community in Milton Keynes. Our “professional” ministers are trained and authorised by the Church and have a particular role to play.

One key role that they have is the nurture of disciples and they are specifically called to do this through ministries of word and sacrament. We need high quality preaching and meaningful sacramental services.

Our ordained, licensed and authorised ministers are also called to be a visible presence in the world. We recognise that it is impossible for them to be in all places at all times, but there is value in identifying the right occasions for there to be an “official” presence.

The Changing Role of Incumbents

Incumbent clergy have a particular role to play and this role will become increasingly important during the time of transition in which we find ourselves. We recognise that the population of Milton Keynes is rising while we can no-longer sustain the high ratio of stipends to members that we have enjoyed in the past. At the same time the numbers of non-stipendiary ministers are rising and we are encouraging a more collaborative approach to ministry.

Incumbents are called to a priestly ministry within their community but will need to share this calling with others. We expect to see more local teams inour parishes and these teams will include an increasingly diverse collection of people; ranging from associate clergy to youth workers and administrators.

Incumbents will inevitably need to exercise a more episcopal role, acting as those who oversee the work of their churches, speaking to them and for them, empowering others in ministry and tending their churches’ development as authentic expressions of Christ’s body. This role is expressed theologically in the concept of the “cure of souls” which they share with the bishop.

This more episcopal role will be particularly important as the numbers of stipendiary clergy decline while the numbers of Christian communities rise as a result of God’s mission. It is important that we release incumbents from some of their existing duties so that they can fulfil this evolving call. It is also important that we enable them to continue to express their priestly and diaconal calling in appropriate and sustainable ways.

The challenge for us in Milton Keynes is to work towards a sustainable model of Christian ministry. We need to be financially sustainable, but we also need a sustainable approach to ministry in which each individual has a clear and achievable role. Working towards this new model will begin with a re-think of the duties and responsibilities that incumbents take on.

Filling Gaps or Responding to Call

In the past there has been a tendency to see non-stipendiary and associate ministers as people who can fill in the gaps left when “proper vicars” are unavailable. The same issues have also shaped the development of volunteers and authorised lay people.

It is increasingly important that we see ministry as the call of the whole people of God, recognise the distinct role of incumbents and also help those who are called to ministry to respond as full members of their local team.

Local Shared and Supported Ministry

In the next section we will look at the need to create vibrant Christian communities. The Local Shared Ministry project group is looking for ways to support this through mentoring. They would also like to encourage and approach to ministry which is:

Local: Ministry is primarily derived from the local community

Shared: Lay and ordained Christians share leadership and ministry

Supported: Local Christian communities are supported by the wider church

While the Local Shared Ministry approach may not be suitable for every
parish, this concept of local shared and supported ministry may be helpful in
our thinking.

The Deanery of Milton Keynes will:
  • Continue to provide a Training Officer who will help train and nurture local church members and authorised ministers.
  • Continue to follow our ten year transition plan which aims to establish a sustainable level of ministry in Milton Keynes Deanery by 2018. (See Appendix B)
  • Map the deployment of ministers in Milton Keynes with respect to incumbents who have an oversight role and the local teams who work with them. This information will be increasingly important as we think about future deployment of stipendiary and non-stipendiary ministers.
  • Continue to reflect on the changing role of incumbents.
  • Explore approaches to vocation which start with gift and call rather than our needs.
  • Continue to look for ways to develop Christian ministry. This should be a priority for the work of the synod. There will therefore need to be regular space to share and discuss ideas and good practice.
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Creating Vibrant Christian Communities

Creating Vibrant Christian Communities
“This is about shaping ‘communities of grace’ which exhibit the character of Jesus. Such attractive communities are genuinely hospitable, deeply engaged with their communities, and passionate about God.”
Building Healthy Churches

It has often been suggested that we should look at growing churches if we want to learn how to grow churches. A great deal of work has been done in this area and there is a some valuable research that we can draw on.

The first key lesson is that values, principles and processes are more significant than projects and programmes. In other words, it is more important to understand the inner workings of a growing church than it is to attempt to copy their activities.

The second point worth noting is that healthy churches often become growing churches. Developing the vibrant life of a Christian community is more likely to produce numerical growth than an evangelistic campaign.

Research carried out in a number of British churches suggests that the following seven characteristics are the most common marks of a healthy church:
  1. Energised by faith
  2. Outward-looking
  3. Seeks to find what God wants
  4. Faces the cost of change and growth
  5. Operates as a community
  6. Makes room for all
  7. Does a few things and does them well
It would be good to encourage churches in Milton Keynes to take on board the lessons learned through the “Healthy Churches” research. It may also be a good idea to investigate the possibility of running “Healthy Churches” processes in the deanery. We could even encourage some of our clergy to train as facilitators.

Mentoring for Local Shared Ministry

As part of the previous deanery plan we helped set up an ecumenical project group to look at the Local Shared Ministry model which was being developed in New Zealand. This group has been very busy and has learnt a great deal about local and shared ministry both in the UK and elsewhere. This group has also begun to develop their own model which is less top-down and more organic. (See Appendix C for their “Dream”) The Diocese of Oxford has authorised this project through STEM, the board for Stewardship, Training, Evangelism and Mission.

The congregation of St Frideswide in Water Eaton has become a pilot project for Local Shared Ministry. So far this project seems to be going well and valuable lessons are being learnt.

The project group believe that the next stage of this project would be to identify churches and parishes who are “working towards” local, shared and supported ministry and develop a mentoring relationship with them. They believe that mentoring will be key to the future development of vibrant Christian communities.

Mentoring is a tool we could use to :
  • Support local churches in their development
  • Challenge assumptions about what can or cannot be done
  • Create a mutual learning network in which we will all benefit
The Deanery of Milton Keynes will:
  • Investigate the possibility of using a “Healthy Churches” process
  • Support the Local Shared Ministry project group and encourage the establishment of a mentoring network.
  • Consciously use the annual visitations as an opportunity to explore the vitality of our churches and share good practice
  • Continue to look for ways to develop our Christian communities. This should be a priority for the work of the synod. There will therefore need to be regular space to share and discuss ideas and good practice.
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Making a Difference in the World

Making a Difference in the World
“This is about recognising that in a holistic understanding of God’s action in the world, there is no mission without social justice; that social justice and prophetic witness cannot be put in a box as a specialism or an extra, but is at the heart of the calling of every Christian community in its own context.”
Making a Difference in Milton Keynes

The Diocese of Oxford states that our vision should be “the transformation of all human life under God”. We believe that the ultimate focus of all our efforts is not the Church but God’s world.

The Five Marks of Mission should continue to guide our thinking about the holistic nature of God’s call and it is worth reminding ourselves of them again and again. We are called to:
  1. Proclaim the good news of the kingdom
  2. Teach baptise and nurture new believers
  3. Respond to human need by loving service
  4. Seek to transform the unjust structures of society
  5. Strive to safeguard and renew the life of the Earth
Set aside to Serve

We have a number of chaplains and chaplaincies in Milton Keynes and many of these are staffed by Anglican clergy. Chaplaincy is a very important tool through which the Church is able to engage with the World and offer loving service. We should aim to do more to invlove and include chaplains and actively support their work.

We also provide one post for the Christian Foundation which has been set up to “create opportunities that release potential in individuals and communities, particularly those experiencing disadvantage, enabling them to learn and grow and live full and healthy lives.” We believe that it is important to continue that commitment.

We have also been using another post to provide a Development Chaplain. We feel that this work has been helpful to the whole Church in Milton Keynes and we value to links that the Development Chaplain has made. We would like to provide more help in connecting churches with their local communities and guidance as to how effective local mission may be developed.

Every Believer and Every Parish

Although chaplains and organisations are extremely valuable, it is important that we don’t regard mission as the province of experts and specialists. Mission is the calling of every believer and the purpose of every parish. The Anglican parish system is primarily a mechanism for ensuring that the Church is active in mission in every corner of this country. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we have a purpose and a call to fulfil.

Each church and parish must respond to their own local community in an appropriate way but there is real value in sharing good practice, ideas and stories between parishes. We need more opportunity for networking and sharing. This may affect the way we handle meetings, visitations and other forms of communication.

[This deanery plan may also wish to cover some other issues which were raised during the period of consultation:
  1. The practice of tithing church income for mission
  2. The concerns raised locally and nationally about “community centre” style churches and their effectiveness in mission. Should we investigate the work of Anne Morisey who suggests the training of volunteer “community chaplains” to work with users?]
The Deanery of Milton Keynes will:
  • Look for more ways to involve and support our chaplains and chaplaincies.
  • Continue to provide a Development Chaplain as a resource for helping churches engage with their local community.
  • Support the work of the Christian Foundation through one of our deanery posts.
  • Look for more ways of sharing news and information about mission in Milton Keynes and beyond.
  • Continue to look for ways to develop our mission as churches. This should be a priority for the work of the synod. There will therefore need to be regular space to share and discuss ideas and good practice.
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Appendix A: Our Understanding of Ecumenism

Appendix A: Our Understanding of Ecumenism

We want to be very clear about the model of ecumenism with which we are working. It is really important that our partners in other denominations and streams of church understand how we see our relationship with them and on what basis we expect to work and make decisions with them.

Principle One: Partnership rather than Absorption

Some models of ecumenism assume that we should all come together and form one single organisation. Those who support this approach believe that it is a worthy goal and will produce great benefits in terms of coherence in vision, communications, decision-making, training and so on...

Unfortunately there can be a tendency for some churches, denominations and communities to
find themselves on the outside, either by choice or conviction. In Milton Keynes Deanery, six of our twelve parishes are uncomfortable with the structural unity that has been a prominent goal for Milton Keynes in the past. There are also a number of newer churches who are unlikely to become formal members of the Mission Partnership - but with whom we are beginning to work more closely...

We would prefer to work with a partnership model in which we understand that we are all one in Christ - whether we like it or not!

As pilgrim communities traveling in the same direction we are able to help and support one another, listen to each other and make decisions together. Our members will increasingly feel free to move between different strands of church life which will continue to affect and influence each other in a myriad of significant ways.

We feel that it is particularly important that all churches are thought of as being “in” and that no
churches or communities should be placed in a position in which they feel that ecumenism is something that would deny their identity or undermine their integrity.

In keeping with the Mission Partnership’s recent review, we would like our ecumenical structures to become the space or mechanism within which these conversations and relationships continue to take place.

Principle Two: Network rather than Hierarchy

One way of simplifying the life of the churches in Milton Keynes would be for the Mission Partnership to act as a layer in a hierarchy - standing between the denominations and the local congregations and parishes.

This has been seen as an attractive goal in Milton Keynes in the past and was one of the motivations behind the setting up of the Mission Partnership as a converged body.

On the other hand, there has been a lack of clarity about authority and the place where decisions can be made. There have also been tensions about “denominationalism”.

The hierarchical model is actually a very “modernist” approach to ecumenism and is less helpful in the more fluid environment in which we find ourselves.

We would therefore prefer to work with a network model. Each church, parish and LEP has relationships with a variety of bodies. In many cases a parish may relate to both the Deanery and other denominational bodies like the Methodist Circuit - and this should be regarded as a good thing!

Decisions should be made by those who are most closely involved or affected but there needs to be an understanding of how resources are controlled or coordinated by different bodies. For instance, the Deanery has responsibility for the deployment of Anglican clergy and the allocation of Anglican parish share.

We feel that an understanding of church life in Milton Keynes as a complex network will be more productive for us at this time than thinking of it as a hierarchy of organisations.

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Appendix B: Our Transition Plan

Appendix B: Our Transition Plan

1. The aims of this transition plan are:

a. for as many parishes as possible to pay 80% of their ministry costs as de-
fined by the Diocese of Oxford by 2013

b. for the whole deanery collectively to pay 100% of their ministry costs by

2. We recognise that the diocese will increase deanery share payments by up to
7.5% each year. We also recognise that we will not pay this figure in full during
the course of this transition plan. We will however commit to:

a. pay up to £5000 from our reserves each year

b. keep the diocese informed about significant issues and changes. This will
include the production of a detailed annual statement.

3. We will increase parish share payments each year according to the following

a. parishes who pay less than 70% of their ministry costs will increase share
payments by 7.5%

b. parishes who pay between 70% and 79% of their ministry costs will in-
crease share payments by 6.5%

c. parishes who pay between 80% and 89% of their ministry costs will in-
crease share payments by 5.5%

d. parishes who pay between 90% and 99% of their ministry costs will in-
crease share payments by 4.5%

e. parishes who pay between 100% and 120% of their ministry costs will in-
crease share payments by 3.5% - the rate of projected overall share in-

f. parishes who pay more than 120% of their ministry costs will have their
share payments reduced to 120% of their ministry costs

g. in order to reach targets set for 2013 and 2018, parishes may have their
shares set at a higher level than this formula suggests, but any increase
above 7.5% will be made by negotiation.

4. Exceptions to this rule will be:

a. Whaddon Way: This is an ecumenical congregation without Anglican minis-
try. They are asked to pay a sum equivalent to the contributions made by
Baptist members to the Baptist Home Missions Fund.

b. Water Eaton: St Frideswide is a Local Shared Ministry congregation without
any local stipendiary ministry. They are asked to pay a sum equivalent to
20% of the cost of ministry associated with an Anglican stipendiary minister;
in other words, the proportion which pays for non-parochial rather than local

c. It is our expectation that similar formulas would be used if similar situations
occur in future.

5. Our deanery plan requires that all parishes must pay 80% of their ministry costs
as defined by the Diocese of Oxford by 2013, but that no church should be ex-
pected to pay more than 120% of their ministry costs. Those parishes who can-
not commit to this target will have their deployment numbers reduced.

6. It is possible for parishes to ask for a larger number of clergy, but they must
commit to pay the equivalent cost of ministry in full.

7. We are given the equivalent of four free posts by the Diocese of Oxford. This
subsidy will be used for the following purposes:

a. to pay for deanery level posts

b. to help reduce the parish share payments of churches in areas of depriva-

8. At the moment we deploy three and a half deanery level posts. It is our intention
that we will only require two and a half deanery level posts by 2013. This will be
equivalent to:

a. one post in the Christian Foundation

b. one half post for strategy/coordination (Area Dean)

c. one half post for mission/enabling (Successor to Development Chaplain)

d. one half post for training/nurture (Training Officer?)

9. Before 2013 it will not be possible to include the subsidy in any calculation of
parish share since we will be falling short of our targets by a considerable
amount. After 2013 it may be possible for us to consider a reduction in share
targets for parishes with areas of significant deprivation.

10. In order to help communications, the Deanery Finance Committee will offer a
rolling programme of PCC visits.

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Appendix C: The Dream of the LSM Project Group

Appendix C: The Dream of the LSM Project Group

We dream of a church in which…

we are all followers of
the Way of Jesus who are -
living in the presence of God;
serving Christ with one another;
taking part in the Mission of God in the World…

we are all active in the
ministry of Christ –
being his body in a broken creation;
building one another up for works of service;
fulfilling his call in the midst of daily life…

we are empowered and
driven by the Spirit –
who fills us with gifts and guidance;
who leads us out into new territory;
helping us to develop new expressions of faith and community…

we serve together in
collaborative and mutual ministry –
each member an active participant,
according to their gifts and calling;
leadership exercised by the whole body acting as one…

all forms of ministry are recognised
and given space to grow –
ministries of loving service;
ministries which walk with others in the territory of the Holy;
ministries of connection, oversight and vision…

Servant Leadership is exercised so that
those in positions of authority
encourage and support the ministry of others,
coordination, facilitation and empowerment
are more important than power and control,
and each member is nurtured, trained and supported
as a valuable member of the team…

the local church is valued
because God meets us
in relationship, community
and a need for “home”
and blesses each community
with the resources it needs
to be Christ’s body;
creating space where human beings
can encounter God…

the wider church is valued
because it exists
to make local ministry possible,
and unites us in fellowship
with people of God
in every time and place…

hope will always overcome fear,
because we are not obsessed
with failure,
competition or even survival,
but continually draw onwards
as faithful pilgrims,
who experience growth,
transformation and new life…

We will work towards this vision…
with fresh and inherited
expressions of church;
as listeners, partners,
mentors and companions;
by reflecting on the voice of God
in the stories we tell…

We dream of a church…

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Appendix D: Meetings, Teams, Groups and Committees

Appendix D: Meetings, Teams, Groups and Committees

These are the meetings, teams, groups and committees scheduled for 2010:

Deanery Synod: Representatives of all parishes, churches and clergy in the deanery meet three times a year to pray, share information, dis-cuss ideas and make decisions about strategy and policy.

Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee: Representatives of the parishes and clergy in the deanery meet three times a year to make decisions about deployment and other operational issues.

Deanery Chapter: Regular meeting of clergy for mutual support, sharing and prayer. Some meetings take place in the evening and are open to non-stipendiary, authorised and licensed ministers.

Deanery Leadership Team: Office holders meet six times a year to plan agendas and implement the policies and actions required by the diocese and the deanery.

Deanery Finance Committee: This group meets as required to discuss the allocation of parish share and other financial issues.

Deanery Strategy Group: This will be an open group which will meet three times a year to review the progress of our deanery plan and suggest further action.

In addition the deanery has an active involvement in:

Mission Partnership Assembly: The assembly acts as the deanery synod when it meets and is empowered to act as such.

Ecumenical Pastoral and Sponsoring Committee: This acts as the “sponsoring body” and has formal responsibility for the oversight and review of LEPs in north bucks.

Ecumenical Oversight Group: This is a meeting of local denominational leaders which meets to share news and discuss joint activity.

There are many other meetings, teams, groups and committees on which the deanery is represented directly or indirectly but these are the ones through which deanery business takes place.

Home - Back

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


Web Site meeting with Nelseys
Setting Agenda for Deanery Pastoral Committee
Unexpected afternoon session with new ministers - talked about developing lay ministry and fresh expressions...
Cooked tea - Sausage pasta
Governors Meeting at Christ the Sower

Jobs done - new jobs acquired...
Need to learn about safer recruitment for school, and...
Am now responsible for a stained glass window...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Stantonbury Visits

First round of visits in Stantonbury and Willen Parish this evening. Three down, three to go...

This evening Tony and I visited New Bradwell, Stantonbury and Great Linford. We were very impressed with the energy and feel of these buildings and were interested in the amount of community engagement happening. St Andrew's is moving forward with some interesting vision work. All good!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Running better - sustainable me

I ran home from school in 26 minutes and 13 seconds, my best 5K time since 8th July 2008. My record remains 24 minutes and 40 seconds - which I did during my sabbatical when I was able to exercise more regularly. Of course, I do need to increase my exercise frequency and improve my diet. I've just been writting up our deanery plan which calls for the Church in Milton Keynes to promote, encourage and model sustainability - and that really ought to include me... It's really hard, since the temptation to work harder is always there, but I do need to prioritise family, health, exercise and spirituality - not just for my own sake, but also as an act of witness. The good news that we preach is that God loves us and wants the best for us - and we need to respond by being good stewards of the complete person he has created us to be.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Happy 89th Birthday Greatgramdma!

We hosted a family party this afternoon for my nan. Here she is with some of her birthday presents...

Also today - 9:45am service at Wavendon and wedding prep at All Saints - 12 couples!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Christ the Sower Fete

Christ the Sower Fete today - western style. They raised £1600 for funds! Well done all!

Coaching for Missional Leadership

by Bob Hopkins and Freddy Hedley

This book has recently been published under the fresh expressions banner. I picked a copy up at the vision day last week.

It's a fairly useful book, with a great deal of material about the theory and practice of coaching an mentoring. They deal with both but make the point that coaching is primarily "task" orientated, while mentoring is "person" focussed - otherwise there is a fairly blurred boundary between the two.

The book's strength, and weakness, is that it attempts to summarise a huge array of ideas and could be accused of being a "cut and paste" job with very little specific material about fresh expressions or mission. On the other hand, what they have included is helpful and there is enough to indicate some of the specific issues that may be involved when coaching "missional leaders".

In general this is a useful brief guide or "revision guide" for supervisors, mentors and coaches. It will stay on my shelf.
Having posted this review, I've just received this through the Cof E's Friday Mailing:


Bob Hopkins and Freddy Hedley Coaching For Missional Leadership ACPI Books 2009 http://www.freshexpressions.org.uk//standard.asp?id=4315&cachefixer

Initially Bob Hopkins’ and Freddy Hedley’s book reads like a chopped down synthesis of Mike Breen’s ‘life shapes’ (http://www.lifeshapes.com/about.cfm) and John Whitmore’s classic Coaching for Performance where he presents the G R O W model of coaching - Goal, Reality, Option, Will - as a format for coaching sessions (see http://www.amazon.co.uk/Coaching-Performance-Growing-People-Purpose/dp/1857883039 for reviews), i.e. it’s a book full of tools, acronyms and lists. I must admit that at first I thought it was a bit thin. Why buy this book and not John Whitmore’s classic? Then I realised as I was recently looking for a simple exposition of GROW to adapt I found myself not reaching for Whitmore but Coaching For Missional Leadership, i.e. there is something virtuous in its simplicity! In addition, it presents the material in a church friendly format, albeit I was not convinced as the blurb claimed it had ‘unpacked’ coaching’s biblical basis.

If you are looking for a less 'how to' and more substantial church based view of coaching I’d recommend Rochelle Melander’s A Generous Presence – Spiritual Leadership and the Art of Coaching, Alban Institute 2006 http://www.alban.org/bookdetails.aspx?id=2484

The book is a collection of story driven essays about coaching with a particular emphasis on the role of the ‘spiritual leader’. Each essay includes exercises, called ‘Try’, and discussion tools, called ‘Talk’. The book is divided into three sections. The first explores some key theological, psychological, and sociological concepts that surround and support coaching relationships, e.g. 'defined boundaries', 'self-care'. The second clusters around skills and solutions, e.g. 'nudge', 'pray', 'apologise', and the third, reviews common coaching situations and provides strategies for addressing them, e.g. 'setting goals' and 'making meaning'. The story led and essay format of this book makes it a real pleasure and resource to dip into.

A reminder from Joanna Cox of a book previously mentioned in Friday Mailing.
“Facilitating Reflective Learning through Mentoring and Coaching, Anne Brockbank and Ian McGill, Kogan Page 2006, ISBN 978-0749444488

The rather lengthy title of this book describes exactly what it is about, and why it may well be useful to those involved in CME etc. This book contains information on Coaching and Mentoring that (a) relates coaching / mentoring firmly to the educational principles / learning theory / developmental process (b) looks at a variety of models and approaches to coaching /mentoring - rather than promoting a single 'do it like this' approach (c) includes some material on the training and development of mentors and coaches that those of you with responsibilities for working with training incumbents etc might find particularly relevant (it includes some exercises / activities).

This book includes a suggested framework mapping a spectrum of coaching / mentoring approaches (how much are the approaches aiming to be functionalist, evolutionary, transformative or maintaining equilibrium?). You can find this in the opening chapter without even buying the book via 'search inside this book' on the Amazon website at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Facilitating-Reflective-Learning-Mentoring-Coaching/dp/0749444487.”

On a lighter note, from the Coaching and Mentoring Network two enjoyable 'spoof' lists by David Clutterbuck here, each with twelve habits of the Toxic Mentor / Mentee - rather in the tradition of the much-used "The Fine Art of Squelching Small Groups". (http://www.coachingnetwork.org.uk/ResourceCentre/Articles/ViewArticle.asp?artId=41 and http://www.coachingnetwork.org.uk/ResourceCentre/Articles/ViewArticle.asp?artId=42 )

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Deanery Plan 2009

I've had a long day today, focussed mainly on writing up this weeks meeting of the Deanery Strategy Group. It was a good meeting, rich with theology and ideas - but not easy to capture in text. I've therefore spent the past two days (or large chunks of them) working through it. With any luck, I'll have a draft ready by some time next week... Just one last section to write...

Ancient Faith, Future Mission: Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition

The term ‘fresh expressions’ usually triggers a number of reactions: some people are excited while others are suspicious. Many more are still unsure what the fuss is all about. This book will be extremely helpful for enthusiasts, critics and the undecided with its varied mix of theory and story-telling. It’s a really helpful addition to the rapidly expanding library of fresh expressions literature.

A fresh expression is “a form of Christian community for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church”. This book contains a number of stories and accounts from people who have already stuck their neck out and had a go. There are chapters about Visions, the U2charist and Feig. Richard Giles has some interesting things to say about buildings. Ian Adams and Ian Mobsby talk about ‘New Monasticism’ while Philip Roderick and Tessa Holland explain Contemplative Fire.

Alongside the stories, this book is also an attempt to relate the concept of fresh expressions to a deeper well of tradition and understanding. There are references to the catholic, sacramental or contemplative traditions. In many ways the writers are inconsistent about what this might mean, but the book does open the door to an interesting and intriguing conversation.

In the opening chapter, Archbishop Rowan Williams suggests that the term ‘catholic’ should imply an approach to the Christian life which is about “speaking the whole truth to the whole person”. He also points out that a catholic approach has some really valuable resources to offer to the fresh expressions movement. These could include a concern for non verbal expressions of faith, a focus on sacramental action, a strong sense of liturgical time and rhythm and an insistence that faith is a community as well as an individual experience.

Summarising every story and argument in the book is beyond the scope of a short book review so could I suggest you get hold of a copy and give it a read. There are some real treasures here which you might find surprisingly helpful…

(Review written for the Door)

The Dark Knight

Watched Batman: The Dark Knight with Isla last night - and it was fairly dark. Probably should have been a 15 - although most of the gruesome violence is imagined rather than actually seen.

There were some very good performances but it did suffer greatly from multiple-ending-itus - coming to a nearly-end more often than the Return of the King! For the first half of the movie I thought I'd want to watch it again to pick up the subtleties. By the end I was glad to be able to pop it back in the post...

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Living Faith in Milton Keynse

Had a really good meeting last night looking at our Deanery Plan. It's going to be more theological than I had anticipated...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Living Faith Logo

Here's the new logo for Living Faith, the vision statement of the Diocese:

Feeling apathetic?

Went to "Nibbles and Niggles" at CtS this evening. Apparently there were eight governors and only two parents, so they decided to cancel it. I'm not sure whether I was counted as a governor or a parent this evening....

This is probably a worse turnout that the European elections. At least that was 35% - this was more like 1%. Is it because people don't care, or are they happy with things the way they are?

Ministers West - Imagining Church

The West flank ministers had a bit of a day together. I was able to be there in the afternoon when Paul Desborough and I shared our experiences on the Masterclass in Sustainable Development. We made some "rich pictures". Here is the Church in wesk MK as it is now:
...and here is the way we dream it could be:

Monday, 8 June 2009

My Wall

LYFE and Foundation 21

Check out Lyfe - the new approach to Bible Study being promoted by the Bible Study. It's basically the kind of approach we used to use very successfully in Team Space: Read a passage, allow it to speak to you and reflect together. This kind of approach actually works very well if you approach it prayerfully and collaboratively. Another example of KISS. The advantage with Lyfe is that the Bible Society are supporting it and providing an on-line infrustructure and resources. They're also keen that Lyfe groups meet in public places like cafes. Anyone up for a Lyfe group?

At the same time BRF are making Foundations 21, their on-lone discipleship programme free. Well worth a look.

They are very different approaches. One is light and process driven; the other is content heavy and structured. Different tools for different people.

Tim's Blog on Wordle

Day to Reflect

As the results of the European Election come in this will be a day of reflection - and possible ructions in Westminster. Facebook and Twitter are filled with comments, most of which are concerned about the vote for the BNP:
sunny day today. although distressed to be living amongst so many bnp voters

It's a concern that even with all the coverage regarding politics, MP expenses, EEC accounts never balancing et al.....STILL only 35% voted

... is concerned to see that the BNP won two seats in the Euro elections. All main stream parties need to address why this happened ASAP

While other comments reflect a move to the right:
"the reason the bnp have won the seats is because the real british people can see what the future holds for our children -grandchildren if nothing is done to stop it"
This is a day for reflection but not panic. Here are the latest results from the BBC

UK Total MEP Seats

Votes MEPs
Party % +/- % Total +/-
CON 28.6 1.2 24 1
UKIP 17.4 0.5 13 1
LAB 15.3 -7.0 11 -5
LD 13.9 -1.1 10 1
GRN 8.7 2.5 2 0
BNP 6.5 1.4 2 2
PC 0.9 -0.1 1 0
SNP 0 0 0 0
SSP 0 0 0 0
OTH 8.6 2.7 0 0
63 of 69 seats declared.
Result excludes Northern Ireland.

On the basis that only 35% of the population voted, this means that only 2.275% of the population voted BNP, but 65% of the population thought that the whole thing was irrelevant or pointless - or that all MPs and MEPs are corrupt and self-interested.

This is an important crisis in British political life but the challenge is not a swing to the radical right wing, but a need to re-establish political integrity and a commitment to genuine public service. The solution is not knifing Gordon in the back, but something more profound - assuming our politicians have the neccessary courage. Let's pray for them all, they're going to need it!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Planning Christmas

Had lunch with the people of St Mary's Shenley so that we could plan the Christmas services. Most of the arangements will stay the same but there are some significant things in the pipeline, including:
  • A Sing-a-long-a-Shenley-Nativity with a Kareoke version of the video in the Church
  • Live video feed of the four O'clock service on Christmas Eve in the graveyard so that the hundreds of extra visitors don't break the fire safety limits...
Plus a number of details that needed to be agreed...

Alison Baird did an excelent job with this. It's good to know that everything has been thought through in good time! (Shame we couldn't meet on the 25th June...)

Being Church

Following last month's service at All Saints' at which we wrote a job description for church members, this month we spent some time reflecting on the nature of church membership and the aspects of it through in interactive service involving baptism, communion, confirmation and stewardship...

Feed-back was good, but numbers were down and those who I had hoped to encourage to take new steps in discipleship were away on the whole... Never mind, the best made plans of mice and men and all that...

Thirteen at the Table

It was a very wet day toady and the rain was hammering down. Iona wasn't keen to go outside because she thought the drops of rain would be so hard that they would drill holes in her - turning her into a human teabag... Perhaps for this reason attendance was low in church this morning...

There were thriteen people at Holy Cross this morning, which was a great number to have at a communion table. I mentioned this in the service and pointed out that while Jesus was with us, we were all playing the part of Judas, Peter and the other disciples. We all betray him, open our mouth and put our foot in it and do all the other things that the disciples did...


Baptism at All Saints' this afternoon. Three children, two families... all good!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Fresh Expressions Vision Day

Today was a great day for fresh expressions in the Diocese of Oxford. The Fresh Expressions Oversight Group organised a Vision Day for key leaders which also serves as an opportunity for the Cutting Edge communities to gather and share...

The whole event took place at the Kings Centre, Osney Mead, an amazing wearhouse conversion church which can be hired out as a conference centre. 

There was a good Milton Keynes turn out with Paul Bright, Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga, Bob Collard, Mike Baldwin, Peeny Keens, and Cathi, Howard and Seren Williams. Mike Morris was also there - as a Godly Play story teller...

There were opportunities to experience worship as led by different communities, to hear their stories and to think about key issues.

There were people present from Maybe, Home, iChurch, Messy Church, Cafeplus, Contemplative Fire and more... I was there to promote mission shaped ministry.

All in all, it was an extremely good day and there were many good conversations and encounters. It was the kind of event that we need to have if we are to encourage fresh expressions.

Moving on, we do need to start organising some more networking events in Milton Keynes and bring together a group to look at CafeChurch in more detail...

Lots of good stuff - looking forward to next year already!

Deanery Prayer Calendar

Supervision and Mentoring

I've been thinking a lot recently about supervision and mentoring and the overlap and differences between them. It seems to me that both roles can pick up aspects of the four quadrants model of supervision (management, support, education and mediation) but there are key differences...

Supervision (oversight/episcope) assumes some form of "elevated vision". A supervisor is expected to see a bigger picture and may even have some clearly defined responsibility for the work that is being "undertaken" - usually on behalf of a "higher" body. This does not necessarily imply control or superiority but it does require a particular perspective or "position". Supervision could be likened to the top or archetects view of a building - how does it work? How do the bits fit together?

On the other hand, mentoring requires an emptying of position. A good mentor has no power to compell or direct but must agree to "come alongside" the person they are mentoring. A mentor may have particular knowledge or experience but they should be careful to allow the mentee to take responsibility and, on the whole, work things out for themself - while feeding in questions and thoughts that expand their horizons... Mentors must discuss the progress of the work (management) - They must encourage, inspire and empathise (support) - They must look for opportunities to learn (education) - They must help their mentee think about how they relate to others (mediation) - but they must also do this from a particular perspective. They are companions and fellow travellors - rather than overseers and co-ordinators. Mentoring could be be described as "fellow-travelling" or being "pilgrims together". Was Jesus acting as a mentor on the road to Emmaus... Mentors apprach a situation from the side...

Supervisors must approach a situation from above, mentors approach it from the side. Both roles are crucial - but different.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Collectomania 15

Isla's mum and brother came up to Milton Keynes today for the weekend. There's now a train that runs from Ashford to Bedford so they were able to come pretty much all the way in one go. We managed to get to Bedford in time to pick them up in the morning.

Bruce and I went to the Collectomania event which is now in the Dons Stadium. While it's been great while these have been held in Middleton Hall in CMK, the new venue has a lot of potential. It was particularly good to see how they used the walkway around the stadium as a place for people to meet the celebs - although it was a shame that it wasn't as warm as it has been this week.

I hope the new venue pays off for them. It's certainly great to have an event like this in Milton Keynes. We need more diversity and dreams and a reminder that there's a bigger world (or universe) out there than we can capture through Next and JLP...

Thursday, 4 June 2009

An experiment in mass collaboration

Today's European Election - at least in the UK - is an interesting experiment in mass collaboration. After weeks of scandal around MP's expenses all bets are off about what will happen. There is great fear in the ether that something bad might happen - will this be the end of Gordon Brown? or will the BNP or UKIP do well?

Some people have argued that the British electorate is remarkably good at making the right decisions - always choosing the party that will do the best for the country. Armed with huge amounts of data, this community of diverse and independent individuals works together to make the best choice - whether individuals agree with it or not...

Others are more pessimistic and are fearful that the mob, stirred up by a hypocritical press, will make an irrational and potentially disastrous choice. One moment you're at the ballot box - the next they're burning the Reichstag...

After years of polls and pollsters, swingometers and surveys it feels odd to have a genuinely unpredictable elections. The question is, what will the British public do?

The Mind of Christ: Collaborative Leadership in the Emerging Church (Outline)

Section 1: What is Collaborative Leadership - Defining Terms
In this section I will define terms like 'fresh expressions', 'emerging church', 'collaborative leadership', 'collaborative ministry' and so on...
Section 2: Thinking about Collaborative Leadership
Christian Scriptures
- The Tyranny of Rightness - black/white perception leads to pathological behaviour
- Patriarchy and Theocracy - Biblical models of authority in tension ("might is right" vs "acts of God")
- The Word and Reign of God - only God is capable of being right
- The Mind of Christ - the Body of Christ through the Spirit
Christian History
- The conciliar movement
- The voice of the other - Benedictine tradition
- Radical Alternatives - Quakers, Diggers, etc...
- The democratisation of the Church - synods and councils, etc...
Political Theory
Leadership and Organizational Theory
Postmodernity and the Information Age
Section 3: Observing Collaborative Leadership
The Local Ministry Movement
New Ways of Being Church
Emerging Churches
Fresh Expressions
Section 4: Analysing Collaborative Leadership
Case studies...
Section 5: Describing Collaborative Leadership


"Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be." Eric Parsloe, The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring

See: What is Mentoring

According to Wikipedia: "The roots of the practice are lost in antiquity. The word itself was inspired by the character of Mentor in Homer's Odyssey. Though the actual Mentor in the story is a somewhat ineffective old man, the goddess Athena takes on his appearance in order to guide young Telemachus in his time of difficulty."

This is an interesting reference since it implies a conscious "coming along side". Someone who could take an "overview" is careful to step into an non-threatening position to provide support from a position of weakness - it is the mentee who is empowered to act, grow and learn...

The concept of "peer mentoring" may be helpful...


I've been thinking about the whole issue of what we call "Local Shared Ministry". It strikes me that there are three problems with out current nomenclature:

1. The term "Local Shared Ministry" is in use by some projects with a very particular definition as to what LSM might be defined as. Within our ecumenical and postmodern urban context we are very wary of "master plans" and "grand/meta narratives". We therefore want to be organic, fluid and bottom up - which means that we have decided not to go for some of the more structured approaches that LSM might suggest.

2. When we capitalise "Local Shared Ministry" or "LSM" it implies a very specific "brand name" or scheme. While we do have a project group and some fairly sophisticated strategic thoughts, we are also conscious that we are observing and encouraging a phenomenon or tendency in the western church, rather than necessarily creating it. If we were to use a lower case this may help indicate this.

3. We have also noted that there are three elements in our minds: a) locally derived ministry, b) shared ministry and leadership and c) support for ministry in terms of oversight, empowerment and mentoring. I have often thought it would be nice if we could reflect this in our language...

So, I'd like to suggest that (in Milton Keynes) Local Shared Ministry becomes local shared and supported ministry - and if you really need initials you could call it lss.

That's my mad idea of the day...

Church Next

In this book Eddie Gibbs and Ian Coffey look at a range of issues concerning Christian ministry in the twenty-first century; looking at transitions "from living in the past to engaging with the present", "from attracting the crowd to seeking the lost" and so on. Inevitably they have a great deal to say in the area of decision-making and I believe that their writing in this area focusses on three key themes: networks, permission-giving and subsidiarity.

It is also worth taking note of their observation that post-modern culture has an impact on the way each individual understands their identity and place in the world: "Each individual has to create his or her own meaning and associate with others to increase his or her power base in a fragmented society of competing interests. Everyone is entitled to his or her point of view, because, for the perspectivilist, what you see depends on where you stand. The world of postmodernists is a world of image rather than of substance. They are concerned with immediate rather than with the long-term, because history is meaningless and the future is too scary and unpredictable to contemplate. Meanwhile, the present is lived out as a tumble of fleeting experiences." (p29) This has an inevitable effect on the way postmodern people engage with leadership and decision-making. In their list of transitions between modern and postmodern Gibbs and Bolger observe a move from "Change initiated at the centre" to "Change initiated at the periphery". The centre is no longer trusted but the margins can be significant if their voice is recieved by the network.

"In traditional and 'modern' contexts it was possible to engage in long-term strategic planning, either because society was stable, or because change was predictable and evolutionary. In the culture of postmodernity, however, change is discontnuous rather than incremental. It comes rapidly and without warning. This culture has been described as a 'plan-do' environment." (p 36)
A very different cultural context requires a very different approach to leadership. Those in leadership positions can no-longer be 'directors' with 'master plans' but must become 'permission givers' who work to release the potential in other people and create an environment in which co-ordinated but fluid action and response can take place. Decisions must be made at the level at which there is most knowledge, skill and relevance, but there is still a role for 'over view' or co-ordination - possibly within a network model.

Gibbs and Bolger note a couple of reports from the evangelical tradition which propose criteria for functional, growing or "missional" churches. These suggest a number of relational factors which would have a baring on decision making, for instance: "The church is a community that practices reconciliation", "People within the community hold themselves accountable to one another in love" (p 56), "A strong, high quality leadership" [?] and "A high level of involvement from skilled lay-workers" (p57).

When it comes to the issue of 'control' Gibbs and Bloger ask the question, "Do denominational leaders disempower others?" (p 73) They note that "Leaders operating within a hierarchical structure see their role as delegating and granting permission. People who function within a network empower and grant resources to those around them without trying to exert control. Controllers bring a mentality of suspicion and inhibit individuals from exercising initiative. They thereby deprive others of the opportunity to grow and mature through learning, through having their faith stretched as they reach for the unlikely and the seemingly impossible. Many valuable lessons can be learned only from failed attempts." (p74)

They observe that those churches who are most closely tied to a rigid hierarchy have suffered most during the twentieth century, but there is a "new reformation" taking place (p 75) which is affecting both new and old churches. This is resulting in significant changes to the way individual congregations are managed and in the way that churches and individuals relate to each other. They suggest, in fact, that traditional denominations are being superceded or suplemented by "new apostolic networks" (p 76) and parachurch organisations.

They describe this as "The age of Networks" (p 83) and observe that there has been a change in the way organisations are structured: "The network-based movement should not be regarded as a place where everyone is free to do his or her own thing. This would simply transform the network into a tangle that would rip itself apart. Rather, it represents a significant change in th edecision-making process. In the hierarchical pyramid, decision-makers are removed from the scene of action and delegate their decisions to the people responsible for thier implementation; but in the network, decision-makers are available when needed to ratify a decision. At the same time they resist the temptation to let decisions float to the top of an organization, emphasizing that each key decision must be taken and acted upon at the appropriate level... Conversely, decisions are often not made in isolation but are communicated to the network for input by anyone who can make a worthwhile contribution." (p84)

Gibbs and Bolger note that networking requires a different approach from those in authority. Relationships, rather than status or position, become more significant. "Individuals who can build strong relationships and expand networks of people are those who relate well to one another and who exercise incredible influence within networks" (p85) - but this has challenging side - "Leadership in a network is precarious because the authority of the leaders can be challenged at any time. Individuals and groups are free to sever their links and to start independent networks" (p85) - although in practice this may be difficult when resources are shared. "When network leaders over-extend their authority or lose credibility, they are likely to find themselves increasingly isolated. Knowing this, they tend to work with supportive teams around them. These teams function not simply as a workforce but as a mutually supportive group of people who affirm one another and relate informally." (p 86)

Gibbs and Bloger quote William Easum: "Relationships and the flow of information are the two most valuable assets of the permission-giving network... The sum of an organization is the sum of its parts plus the relationship between the parts..." (Sacred Cow pp 22-23)

All this requires a significant change in management and leadership style. Delegation needs to be replaced by permission-giving. Control needs to be replaced by mutual accountability. While controllers tend to be insecure and delegate responsibility with out commensurate authority (p87) permision-givers tend to be "secure" and exercise trust. They key facet of relationships between them and others in a network is "mentoring". Organization is fluid and permission-givers "are ambitious for the people working around them and are not intimidated by people more able than themselves. Permission-givers are in the business of growing people, not 'cloning' people." (p 87)

Other key aspects of network leadership are values, training and empowerment. Teams are "self-organizing" and imperminent (p 90). Organizations are decentralised (p 9-91) and only work if there is mutual-accountabilty rather than one-way. (p 91). Gibbs and Bolger observe that networks represent an "open-ended system" (p 91) and have unlimited potential for growth.

Further comments of note:
Team-building skills are an essential skill for professional ministers. (p 108)
"Entertainment is no substitute for participation" (p 162)

Eddie Gibbs and Ian Coffey, Church Next: Quantum Changes in Christian Ministry, Intervarsity Press, 2001.