Following the success of our first outdoor gathering last month, The Rivers Team will be holding another outdoor team family service on Sunday the 25th of July (replacing our usual Team Service at St. Lawrence’s and Online Family Worship Service, for this week only).
The Open-Air Service will take place on the land behind St. Andrew’s church in Brinsworth, with spaces provided for each family group to allow for social distancing. It will be an opportunity for us to sing together, pray together, and break bread together: we would love to see as many people as possible from across the team come and take part in this time of worship.
After the service there will also be an opportunity to have a picnic lunch. So please bring along some food (just for your household or bubble – this event will NOT be a bring-and-share) as well as garden chairs or rugs, and make the most of what will hopefully be a sunny afternoon together.
To make sure that there is room for everyone to be accommodated safely, if you plan to attend, please book your place as soon as possible here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-air-all-age-service-and-picnic-july-tickets-162830894589
[Don’t worry if you aren’t able to attend or don’t yet feel comfortable gathering again in person yet, as it is our intention to live stream the service on our Facebook page.]
Where do go from here…?
Reimagining the shape of ministry in the Rivers Team
A Consultation document
1. PRE-COVID-19 PATERNS
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic we have had to stop doing much of what we had previously been doing, and this has given time and space to reflect and pray. It has also:
- Allowed us to focus on doing fewer things really well.
- Seen new ministries and giftings begin to emerge.
- Meant we have operated more as a Team, and worked more collaboratively.
- Meant that we have had to manage without buildings and learn what it means to be a church without walls.
- Allowed us to develop and grow our online presence.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we are in a unique position to choose what to pick back up and decide how we operate as things start to open up again.
Our pre-COVID-19 patterns of worship were based on having 2 full time and 2 part time clergy.
When a new appointment is eventually made, we will have half this number, so our past model is not sustainable, and we need to review this and make changes over the coming months as we emerge from the COVID-19
Even before Margaret retired last July, our resources were thinly stretched to cover the patterns of worship, and if it were not for lockdown restrictions limiting our activities, things would have had to be addressed before now:
- Some congregations were not able to sustain themselves and this is likely to have become more problematic over the last 12 months.
- Energy levels were being depleted, and high levels of exhaustion were becoming apparent.
- Our activities were often under resourced.
- An imbalance existed between the energy put into maintaining Sunday worship (for us) and that deployed in missional engagement (for others).
- Small groups had largely dissipated.
- A clear and coherent mission dynamic had not been developed for our Sunday congregations.
There were, however, some intentionally missional congregations meeting at different times. These were attracting new people and seeing growth:
Weekly Thursdays @ St Andrews (Isolated, elderly & bereaved)
Monthly Messy Church (Young Families)
Monthly 1 st Steps (Toddlers)
Weekly Coffee Pots
2. THE DIOCESAN VISION
“As a diocese we have been called to grow a sustainable network of Christ-like, lively and diverse Christian communities in every place which are effective in making disciples and in seeking to transform our society and God’s world.”
To fulfil this calling our Diocesan Strategy sets out the following key objectives:
- Renewed – Maintaining as a first priority a real reliance on the Spirit of God in prayer and worship.
- Released – Mobilising the whole people of God for the whole mission of God.
- Rejuvenated – Engaging more younger people and planting new churches and congregations.
3. OUR RESPONSE
The leadership of the Rivers Team support this vision and strategy, but it is difficult to see how we can achieve it by simply going back to the way things were, and we believe it is necessary to re-shape the Team in order to:
- Reflect a revised allocation of clergy support.
- Equip and release the whole people of God in mission and ministry.
- Maximise the impact of our worship and ministry, both within the church and in our communities.
This will involve focusing on:
- Building the body and equipping the saints.
- Discerning individual gifts and facilitating these in new, exciting ways.
- Developing and resourcing lay ‘focal ministry’.
- Releasing the clergy to exercise more strategic ‘oversight ministry’.
- Identifying opportunities for missional engagement in our communities and resourcing these well.
We believe that we are being called to:
- More fully embrace the idea of ‘Team’ ministry.
- Look at ways to pool our resources and use what we have more effectively.
- Lay down some things we may hold dear, to allow new things to flourish.
- Be brave and boldly go where we haven’t been before.
4. DISCERNING A VISION
We have been prayerfully reflecting on this and engaged in some initial discussions, out of which there is potential for a vision to emerge. However, this is a journey we need to undertake together in love and grace, prayerfully seeking after what the Lord is saying and where He is leading.
It is important to say that at this stage no decisions have been made. Inside this letter is a response form, which we would ask you to complete as you prayerfully reflect on it, so you can play a part in the process.
You can complete the questions online at https://n8qvpssczuf.typeform.com/to/uC9o2Jbw
We will be reflecting on and discussing the responses at a special Team Council meeting in June and hope to be able to put forward some proposals thereafter and then hold open meetings at which these can be discussed
before making any decisions.
With our love, prayers and blessings,
Rev. Philip, The Churchwardens & Team Council of The Rivers Team
The Rivers Team will be holding its Annual Church Parochial Meeting (APCM) and Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday the 23rd of May, following the team service at St. Lawrence’s church in Tinsley. The meeting will start at 11:30am and also be made available via Zoom for anyone who is not booked to attend the service at St. Lawrence’s.
If you worship within The Rivers Team, we would warmly encourage you to attend, as this is an important event within the life of the church. Along with the formal business of electing our Churchwardens and new PCC members, Rev. Philip will be sharing a vision for moving forward from the pandemic and what our ‘new normal’ may look like as a church.
Meeting ID: 929 6488 5705