April 2016

August 1, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

For years it seems that the URC has been in a cycle of decline and planning for further decline. Seemingly we have ignored the work being done in other denominations that has led to growth. However it may all be about to change as the URC Mission Council has been discussing ‘Missional Discipleship – A fresh emphasis on making and releasing disciples within the United Reformed Church’. The following are quotes from the paper agreed at the March 2016 Mission Council.

‘We recognised that our task was to encourage in every local church an understanding of Church as a community of disciples who are looking outwards to the communities within which they serve and witness to the love of God. The second part of our task was to provide an environment in which every local church can find appropriate materials to enable such an emphasis to be resourced’

‘We would issue invitations to explore the relationship between life and Christian faith and witness. The emphasis would be on growing in confidence, having conversations and encouraging faithfulness.’

‘We would involve the use of Holy Habits, a resource which encourages growth in ten habits of faithfulness which are derived from Acts 2. It offers Biblically based reflection, communal and thought provoking engagement with its themes and is about developing practice … ‘holy habits’ … with the aim of growing in confidence and creating faith and life connections.’

‘There would be an encouragement to move on or ‘dig deeper’ into discipleship courses and encourage people to ask how we might love and serve Jesus more’

Of course there is a long way to go before the final programme is agreed and delivered. There is no guarantee that churches will warm to the idea and run with it. However there does seem to be a drive and enthusiasm to run with this and hopefully move the church from decline to growth. Growth is meant in terms of numbers, spirituality, and mission commitment both to the community and to the wider world. Of course there is a massive challenge in that we have to turn the church from a ‘decline is inevitable’ to a ‘growth is normal’ mentality. Maybe ‘Leading your Church into Growth’, an Anglican initiative can offer some helpful insights here. They have a wonderful and inspiring course for Church Leaders, two of its elements are ‘Realising the importance and potential of our worship’ and the correct balance of the 4 P’s of church growth – prayer, presence, proclamation and persistence. I shall be picking up these themes in worship during April & May.

Our Christian hope is not to remain as we are for ever. Our Christian hope is to become more Christ-like as individuals, to build the Kingdom of God on earth and to see the whole world come to Christ. As the Bible itself says, ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ The Church is growing and will continue to grow, may the URC be part of that growth