On Sunday, Steve Cox kindly came back to St John’s – helping us with our thinking and considering what has happened since our first Vision Day in June last year. He preached and reminded us of this quote by Archbishop Oscar Romero:
“It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
We had about an hour after the service to think about what there has been to celebrate since Steve last joined us and whether our priorities were still the same (praying for growth and children and families) or whether we needed to change our priorities at this point. Below are the results of our brainstorming:
What do we have to celebrate at St John’s?
- We have great publicity – on the boards and by email and in the local papers.
- There are more young people and families coming to St John’s.
- We are praying and our prayers are being answered.
- The Sumner room is being redecorated and modernised.
- We have a building that can be a community building now.
- The welcome we give is better.
- More people are staying for coffee – not rushing off.
- We have teenagers in the Parish who are engaging.
- At Baptisms the families and their friends and relatives are so much more engaged.
- More people are coming forward for Confirmation
- There is a greater unity in the congregation
- Messy Church has been hugely successful
- The Christmas Cards were wonderful – everyone in the Parish received an invitation and consequently the Christmas Services were popular
- We are looking for apprentices for every job in the church (not necessarily finding them YET)
- Numbers of people attending the services has grown and the number of children has increased.
What are our priorities?
- Prayer – after Easter we will restart our “Praying for Growth” we will meet at various times and also send round the liturgy by email so all can pray.
- Growing Younger (focus on children, families and teens).
- Contemplative Prayer for Teens
- Create a Children’s Corner
- Continue with the things we are already doing
- Perhaps move to a monthly All-age Service.
- Make sure that we always do what we say we are going to do – stability of services.
- Pray for more people to do ministry
So we were very encouraged indeed by how much there is to celebrate – we hadn’t realised that there are so many good things that God is doing. And we decided that we should maintain the priorities we have – maintaining the same course as it seems to be bearing fruit already. Thanks be to God!