By ACNS staff
The English Diocese of Liverpool has set ten 'tests' for any proposed initiatives to help churches avoid doing anything that might hinder the work of God's mission.
The diocese, which has 250 churches in both rural and urban settings in the north of the country, is said to be working towards "a sustainable, led and transforming Christian presence in every community in the diocese to enable all to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God"
Liverpool’s Church Growth Team Leader Linda Jones explained that as part of this its synod agreed that Ten Tests should be set and used to measure the worth of any proposed initiatives:
Does each area of work or initiative:
- Encourage growth numerically or in spirituality?
- Support and reflect the church that we wish to become?
- Affirm mutual support and collaboration within the diocese?
- Strengthen relationships between parishes?
- Recognise the ethos and the characteristics of the diocese particularly highlighting issues peculiar to the diocese.
- Take appropriate account of the sustainability and viability issues of church buildings and congregations ?
- Provide for accountability throughout every step of the initiative within the diocese and beyond?
- Present an appropriate stewardship challenge?
- Provide appropriate support for local decision-making?
- Is the proposed system or process transparent and easily understood?
" We are now in the process of applying these 10 tests to any initiative that we are thinking about," explained Linda. "Hopefully by doing this it will encourage us to think collaboratively, look wider, and apply the concept of subsidiarity to enable us to be good stewards of God’s giftings for the building up of his kingdom."
The need for such strategic, critical thinking cannot be underestimated when you take into account that the diocese stretches across a region that is both rural and urban, stretching from Southport in the North to Widnes in the South, from Liverpool in the West across to Wigan in the East, serving a population of 1.53 million in an area of 389 sq miles.
Linda added, "Ultimately we are aiming to see healthy churches at the heart of healthy communities; excellent church schools promoting Christian education; Christian disciples growing in faith, hope and number; outstanding Christian leaders for today and tomorrow; and vibrant and inclusive mixed economy churches in and from all traditions.
"We think that, with God's help, the ten tests will help us achieve just that."
Linda is also a member of the Anglican Communion’s Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative that is a network of people across the world who together work to promote church growth and evangelism in Anglican and Episcopal churches across the globe. Information about Liverpool Diocese’s Ten Tests and many other projects, initiatives and ideas for encouraging church growth and evangelism can be found in its latest newsletter Witness6.7 here: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi/newsletters/2011/june/index.cfm
Notes to Editors
- The Diocese of Liverpool is an exciting, challenging and stimulating place to be. It serves a wide mix of communities in urban, rural and town parishes. It is innovative, seeking new ways to further God’s mission while respecting cherished traditions. Its 250 churches are spread across a region that is both rural and urban, stretching from Southport in the North to Widnes in the South, from Liverpool in the West across to Wigan in the East, serving a population of 1.53 million in an area of 389 sq miles. http://www.liverpool.anglican.org
- Following the resolution passed at ACC-14 to promote 'Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative' a Core Group of Animators was appointed to take the work forward under the auspices of the Mission Department of the Anglican Communion. The main purpose of the Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative (ECGI) is to promote evangelism and church growth work throughout the Anglican Communion. As well, as facilitating the sharing of news, stories, experiences and strategies of various evangelism and church growth initiatives. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/index.cfm
- The latest edition of Witness6.7, the newsletter of the Anglican Communion Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative (ECGI), (found here http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/ecgi/newsletters/index.cfm ), tell stories from around the Anglican Communion, as well as providing biblical reflection on 'How Anglicans share their faith'. The stories reflect the diversity of Anglican witness but also illustrate the importance for Anglicans of Mission that is: holistic or integral, incarnational, community-based and using the language of the people; both strategic and creative and open to trust the Holy Spirit. Offering hospitality and going out to others in humility and vulnerability and openness to learn from others so that we grow in our own faith are some of the ways Anglicans share their faith. The newsletter also shows Anglicans' commitment to gospel values and lessons that come from biblical examples. In all this worship that is done well is central to the Anglican faith. The Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative (ECGI) welcomes new registrations and stories from Anglicans on how they share their faith which can be used in future editions.
- The Anglican Communion Office serves the Anglican Communion, comprising more than 85 million members in 44 regional and national member churches around the globe in more than 130 countries. http://www.anglicancommunion.org/