Risk and the comfort zone
We found the Leading Your Church into Growth course was a natural progression and an excellent vehicle for encouragement for all who want to see their communities grow in faith, service and numbers.
It is the perfect follow up leading on from the Mission Track Course presented last year in the Diocese.
It helped us as a team to begin to dig a bit deeper and commit ourselves to making a date and putting service in our community into action. It was also a wonderful opportunity for like minded people to come together and be encouraged and it is a powerful vehicle in helping to think about and reflect on what it means to Grow the Kingdom of God. We went as a team of four, one clergy member and three lay people. I was already feeling encouraged before we arrived because those wonderful people signed themselves up and paid for it themselves because they wanted to, I didn’t have to pressgang anybody or bribe them! This was despite never having been on a course like this before. Julia and Joan were a little bit daunted, not knowing what to expect and Michael applied himself stoically as he does (being the Rector’s husband.) All came away from the course excited about future possibilities and we also used the time to plot and plan ahead.
Although it is very good to be excited about possibilities and to meet like-minded people, the course more importantly affirmed a sense of affirmation and calling to all, was the feedback I received from our team.
We decided to take a risk and put a date in our diaries to begin our parent and toddler group. We had been thinking about it for a few weeks and of course had the approval of the PCC so that all were on board in the Parish. The great day arrived, we had borrowed, bought and begged for toys and new play mats, games and blow up swimming pools. We leafleted and stuck posters up everywhere, we put it on the website and went to the schools and children went home with flyers in their book bags. Then we waited to see what would happen on the day. On that very first day we had 16 adults (including four helpers) and 15 children. We were so excited and all the carers were so grateful and excited to finally have something in the village for their children. We discovered that most of the parents had older children of primary school age and so we decided to continue with a Holiday Club on Fridays during the summer and opened it up to all. We had to move out of the Church Room and into the church and we play games in the grounds of the churchyard. We now have 43 kids registered and 22 adults and sixish helpers who come. And it has been a joy. The parents are planning ahead for parties and harvest festivals and have taken on bringing refreshments and helping pack up. It felt very risky when we set the date and stepping out of ones comfort zone is always a risk, but I am acutely aware that we need to provide the opportunities to make invitation in our communities.
Can I encourage you to take a risk about whatever that thing you have been thinking about for some time is, it doesn’t even matter if you fall down or it needs tweaking and if you get a chance to go on a LYCiG course do it! Can I say to all those who are offering amazing invitations to all in their parishes, be encouraged it isn’t our job to convert the people, it is our role to allow God to use us in his Mission of love to make Christ known to the world and this happens through welcoming communities of hospitality and service wherever we are.
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