Bishop of Norwich launches new mission strategy
The Bishop of Norwich has launched a new five-year strategy for mission in the Diocese of Norwich building on what is already being done and looking to grow in discipleship, service and numbers.
It is an extension of the existing Committed to Growth strategy and is entitled 'More than we can imagine'. It identifies four 'streams' of work - Listen, Celebrate, Imagine and Empower - and will be resourced by grants from the national church (The Archbishops' Council) and trust funds (not from the diocesan budget).
It is not meant to replace local mission planning, but to aid and build upon it with additional support says the Diocese.
Bishop Graham said: "We serve a God for whom there are always new possibilities, with whom there is always the prospect of new life and hope. Our prayer is that God will help us in our generation to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine, as we say together “your kingdom come”.
In September 2015 Bishop Graham wrote to all parishes in the Diocese asking three key questions: what are some of the good things happening locally; what are the biggest challenges; and what resources or support would be helpful centrally.
From the many responses received common themes were identified and the 'streams' identified.
The LISTEN stream will help to address feelings from some church members of sinking under the burden of buildings, finance and bureaucracy. Training will be offered to those caring for their buildings as well as support with administration, finance and governance. Architect's time will be gifted to parishes to look specifically at building needs in relation to mission.
The CELEBRATE stream will encourage sharing, celebration and learning together - communicating what God is doing across the Diocese and strengthening the sense of common purpose and unity in Christ. Best practice of growing churches will be shared and local experience made known.
The IMAGINE stream will seek to develop new areas of work in response to the changing needs of society, encouraging one another to take the initiative ourselves and build confidence in sharing our faith. The Diocese will run training on starting a Fresh Expression, Messy Church, Café Church and Cell Churches and offer start-up funds and start-up teams to help locally, as well as establishing two Church Army Mission Centres, one in Harleston and one in Kings Lynn.
The EMPOWER stream will provide the resources needed to address the challenges identified. Through a range of training and funding the diocese will equip and empower churches and individuals for the work that God is calling them to undertake. This includes funding project workers to increase capacity working with schools, children, young people and families, and supporting parish and deanery initiatives to address social need, poverty and deprivation.
Speaking about the mission Bishop Graham said: "A strategy is important, but God’s church is nothing if it exists without love. The ministry to which the people of God are called must be an expression of God’s love. ‘Love the people to whom God has sent you’ is the deepest expression of the priestly task…'
"What I hope this new mission strategy will do is to complement all that the parishes are doing in their areas and to enhance the growth in discipleship, service and numbers. More than we can imagine, that’s what God gives us. We are a church committed to growth and we will continue to be so."
Pictured above is Bishop Graham James.