Forming Faith has become the focus for the Canberra Region Presbytery this year.
This means that as a presbytery we encourage congregations to strengthen one another’s faith, to bear one another’s burden’s and exhorting them to fulfil their high calling in Christ Jesus.
What is our high calling in Christ Jesus, but to love God with our whole being and love our neighbour as our selves.
I recently attended the Inter-Synod Mission Pioneers Gathering where people from across most of the Uniting Church’s Synods gathered to share stories, ideas and support each other in their experiences of new expressions of church. One of the recurring conversations that happens as people gather to consider how the church is responding to growing faith and forming people of faith is “how do we get there”.
While there are many institutional challenges faced by all parts of the church in being focused on faith formation and shifting into being a movement and balancing the needs of institution. It becomes clear quickly that “getting there” can be very simple when individuals within the church and as a community of faith we focus on some key things.
Keeping focused on the way of Jesus Christ and the scriptures that tell us about the way of Jesus.
It’s about hospitality and relationship.
Working with the “heart burst - passions” of people.
Organising our life together around hope and not conflict.
Being clear about our core values (why do we do what we do around here and how is that shaped by being followers of Jesus) particularly when conflict arises.
Creating a permission giving culture.
Get organised and manage well the things we do.
Develop wider community partnerships.
That to make things life giving for all involved and to develop longevity within the faith community’s practices.
It’s good to focus on:
Theologically and Pastorally reflective on the reality of life for people
Connecting the faith practices to the biblical witness
Creating practices of faith that supports and sustains people
Sometimes as a church we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be and we lose touch with what really matters. So, in focusing on the “how do we get there” question let’s keep it simple. Let’s take small steps and commit as a community of faith to one simple practice of faith.
Like a daily prayer practice. – Use a simple resource like Pray as you Go, direct to your phone or email daily http://www.pray-as-you-go.org
Like a weekly community practice of hospitality – have a meal together and have intentional faith conversations, forget about the weather for just a little while and talk about why being a person of faith matters to you.
Like develop a faith story resource for families in your church so they can talk together as a family about a bible story that week. Put it on line so they can access it at any time they want.
That well-known theologian Michael Leunig also reminds us that “how to get there” is not that hard really if indeed we keep it simple. First, as individuals and as communities of faith we have to act, we have to get up and walk to the gate – we have to want to do this. We need to go through the gate and head to the horizon. There is no knowing of where that might take us, but along the way we have “the gift of the Spirit in order that the church may not lose the way”. Along the way we need to rest and practice things that sustain us for the journey ahead and then start again and keep on going as far as you can – that’s how to get there.
HOW TO GET THERE
Go to the end of the path until you get to the gate.
Go through the gate and head straight out towards the horizon.
Keep going towards the horizon.
Sit down and have a rest every now and again,
But keep on going, just keep on with it.
Keep on going as far as you can.
That’s how you get there.
© Michael Leunig 2017