Partnership for Missional Church
Rural Ministries is delighted to be partnering with the Anglican diocese of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich in 2018 to deliver a new missional initiative. We invited Bishop Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich which includes the diocese of St. Edmunsbury and Ipswich to explain more about the missional process and our partnership.
One of the challenges as a Christian community is knowing what to focus on – where energies, resources, time and money should be put. The world has many needs and if we’re not careful, we can spread the jam so thinly that you can’t taste it or, in the words of St Augustine, we can be like water dissipated on a hot rock. It is not helped by the anxiety of seeming irrelevant to the world and the consequent knee-jerk reaction to address a need as soon as it arises.
What to do? Well, anyone involved with Rural Ministries will not be surprised to hear that what is needed is attentiveness to what God is up to, prayerful attentiveness to the Spirit’s calling, prompting and activity, and a response which shapes the Christian community’s priorities in accordance with what we are discerning of the Spirit’s calling and activity.
One particular process that focuses on this discernment is Partnership for Missional Church – PMC for short. This is a three-year process of spiritual discernment which congregations are invited to undertake and which over time, promises to hone the focus of each congregation’s mission and ministry in ways that are prayerfully aligned to God’s discerned purposes.
Through the process, various habits are introduced such as ‘dwelling in the word’ and ‘announcing the kingdom’, which help the congregations and individuals within them to become more confident of a God already at work in their lives, their community and the world around them and to articulate, anticipate and look to partner with God in different ways.
PMC has been around for 30+ years and operates in slightly differing forms in North America, Europe and South Africa, but it has only recently arrived in the UK. It has been trailed in Somerset and in the East Midlands and most recently (starting 2015) in Durham and Oxford, under the Church Mission Society which has franchised the PMC process in the UK from partners in the USA.
There are now have over 60 congregations across the UK engaging with the principles and practices of this approach to missional church.
Learning through the process, churches are able to:
- Face their current reality – ‘arriving where they are’ – both inside the congregation and outside in their context – however unpromising that may be.
- Let go of ‘programmes’ which are busy activities not engaged with the mission of God.
- Begin missional experiments, looking for where God is at work and addressing adaptive challenges in their communities.
- Engage at a different level with ministerial formation and the task of spiritual leadership.
- Move to being multicultural where that is their current reality.
- Deliver deep discipleship growth through spiritual practices, action & reflection rather than being ‘course’ based.
- Increase trust and confidence between congregation members and between the congregation and its community.
- Draw groups of congregations (in team ministries or informal arrangements) together with a common purpose in mission.
- Change some of the language they use for describing themselves and their mission and recover the ability to notice, and talk about in public, the activity of God.
We look forward to bringing readers further updates as the initiative unfolds.