How can we be a Spirit-led church together in a new, exciting and co-operative way across our region?
How would we encourage people to think that we need to change?
How do we energise our people to all the opportunities of working outside the confines of our congregations?
These questions were among raised by representatives of six churches from the Casey- Cardinia region of our presbytery at a consultation on Saturday 22 May, led by the presbytery ministers. About 25 people engaged in a highly interactive day of getting to know each congregation’s stories, strengths, challenges and resources. Church councillors and ministry agents attended from Pakenham, Endeavour Hills, Hampton Park, Narre Warren North, Berwick and Cranbourne.
People were invited to consider what the churches had in common, and what were their unique gifts and strengths. We named some big questions about the future.
We also considered a Co-operation framework involving growing in Communication, Co-ordination and Collaboration.
Communication – Let’s Talk
All co-operation begins with trust. Relationships form and deepen when we get to know one another. Appreciation leads to encouragement and support. In the Casey-Cardinia region, the minister have met as a peer group for years, sharing hopes and concerns, offering mutual support. How well do your leaders know those in adjoining churches?
Communication in ministry is about
- Getting to know each other
- Building trust
- Sharing hopes and challenges
- Mutual encouragement
- Growing a shared identity
Co-ordination – Let’s Plan
A further level of co-operation is co-ordinated activities, like the recent Leighmoor – Coatesville – Murrumbeena celebration of the UCA Anniversary. Or St Andrew’s Berwick offering the Youth Alpha program to surrounding churches. Or a pulpit swap of preachers once a quarter. Or the Mt Waverley churches’ adult learning forums. Suddenly there’s a smorgasbord of ministry and mission activities on offer regionally.
Co-ordination in ministry is about
- Leaders connecting
- Shared planning of activities
- Running combined programs
- Seeing gaps and opportunities
- Sharing in community life
Collaboration – Let’s Share
What if some ministry and mission is better shared than solo? Combined programs. Shared activities arising from shared planning together. Developing a common sense of mission. Pooling gifts and resources. Seeing what God might grow from this. Some churches combine to run breakfasts for students in schools. Endeavour Hills, Pakenham and Cranbourne have teamed up to prepare and offer online worship services.
Collaboration in ministry is about
- Leaders dreaming
- Developing common goals
- Pooling some resources
- Combining roles or tasks
- Fostering shared vision
Here is a table that can be used for planning ways to build co-operation in ministry and mission.
Co-operation Framework (MS Word document)