A Movement Begins

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My highlight of 2015 was spending two days hosting the first Navigating Change conference at SwanBank. It was a busy few days and extremely hard work but an immense privilege as over 150 church leaders from across the UK gathered to look forward with hope, to explore together what is necessary to see growth within the Methodist Movement in the UK.

It was an amazing time of connecting and hearing what God is doing across our churches. I am convinced more than ever that God has a great future for us if together we learn how to navigate our way through this time of transition and change for the church.

I did the funeral of lady just before Christmas of 2015 and she was 101. I spent time with her nephew discussing all the changes she had seen during her lifetime, incredible changes socially and technologically. The way our communities look and function are almost different worlds. We live in a period in history of unparalleled change. And I for one know that when I was trained for ministry 20 years ago – I was trained to lead in a world that no longer exists.

Many of us are now leading churches and conducting ministry in a world that is almost gone – but not quite – the church is often the place where the remnants of the old world are clung to for dear life and the church begins to look alien to the community around it as the community moves on at a fast pace. The hard truth that we need to face, and face quickly is that while the church becomes a safe place for some from the change around we fail to fulfil the call upon us to communicate and fulfil the great commission for the current generation. I am always challenged by Fred Pratt Green’s words… ‘The Church of Christ, in every age beset by change but Spirit-led, must claim and test its heritage and keep on rising from the dead.’ It is time to again rise from the dead and become the church God asks to be – that will mean for many of us Navigating a different course, taking difficult decisions and not always being able to carry everyone with us on the journey. Our challenge is to be obedient to God, not the loudest voices in our congregations.

Are you, like me, tired of talking about decline and restructuring for death? Why not journey with us as we explore the future with confidence and expectation that God will continue to use and bless this church. The purpose of journeying together is to help each of us be more effective leaders, to share good news and catch new vision – to grow the Kingdom! Let’s Navigate Change.


6 thoughts on “A Movement Begins”

  1. Really excited about this initiative; we long to see a move of God, not for the survival of the Church, but for the sake of building the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus and bringing people to know Him in a new and powerful way! Thank you for stepping forward in faith. God bless you richly!

  2. How we need this movement Ashley! Thank you for this initiative. I hope and pray that it really ‘gets of the ground’. But how, how can we encourage our very elderly (but faithful) little rural congregations to face the glaringly obviously fact that not only do things have to change but they have to change in such a way that we ‘oldsters’ will be knocked sideways out of our comfort zones? But is that necessarily such a bad thing? Jesus led His disciples to places they could never expected to go. That of course is the key – to go where Jesus leads!

  3. So glad to see this site up and running. In my work with Pioneer Connexion I see many signs of hope for the Methodist Church, but it is a hope that we are required to grasp rather than simply wait for. It is all too easy to buy into the lie of hopelessness and despair that the enemy dearly wants us to believe. But God is stronger, and when His Church stands up and we walk together in obedience and faith we will prevail.

  4. Well done.

    I’m a bit wary of your fundamental choice of words: A Movement Begins. Movement has got some weird baggage within Methodism (a church or a movement? Discuss). A= singular; ‘begins’ may be ignoring beginnings or steady progress elsewhere. A more inclusive and less “church politics” headline might be an improvement. In navigating change in a work setting I found it surprising how a small wording issue could quietly alienate a lot of people.

    But indeed, let’s stop talking endings and closings and releasing resources for unspecified uses by others in another place.

    What different action models do we have to copy or develop that work in UK settings?

    There is a US Methodist approach that depends on an existing congregation of perhaps 150 and a 3-year investment of around £80k, rather like the HTB approach, but also not easily copied. (When presented in UK the US author was advised that UK Methodism was already past the point of no return anyway!)

    Swan Bank maintains a stong social action program in Stoke I believe – is that actually helpful to growth or is it simply an expression of an unusually-strong congregational presence?

    Hayward (http://www.churchmodel.org.uk/RenewalResult.html) uses an infection-type model to explore growth options. Even small congregations can be infective! In that context is this idea [ http://ncd-international.org/public/Books/Pathway.html ] helpful?

  5. I am a supernumerary and very active; not heard the Lord tell me its time to ‘sit down’ and smell the coffee. When I first entered circuit ministry in the 80’s, at a ‘F.K’ meeting I heard a colleague he was ordained to failure. I was shocked and thought, ‘That’s not what the Lord said to me.’ Wrong attitudes have been allowed to stew in our church communities for far too long and the current talks about thoughts on talks on revisiting our disciplines on marriage etc., are only serving to upset and confuse many of the faithful true followers of Jesus in our churches – it is a distraction that is unnecessary and an expensive use of time and resources – Satan must be smirking all over his face at this.
    This is a welcome new initiative.

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