Annie and I came to Harborne on this basis nearly 18 months ago. We carried with us a sense that God wants to use St John’s to inject new life into other churches in the diocese of Birmingham as part of His plan for Revival, Resourcing, Releasing among us. This is nothing new; we can say, rightly, it is part of the history and “DNA” of St John’s – B1 is the most recent and before that with St. Germain’s in the early ‘80s.
For much of our time here I have been in conversation with Bishop Andrew about how we can make this happen. One of the options we have explored has been for Tim and Kate Meathrel to spearhead a church plant but this now appears unlikely to be the right path for them to pursue. There is no one model for what this can look like but it includes the possibility of grafting groups from St John’s into the existing vision and mission of other gospel-minded churches around us.
Christ Church Summerfield (CCS) is one such parish that is keen to explore the option of a “church-graft” with us and I am happy to commend it to you now. Pete Sainsbury, Vicar – CCS, says: “We believe that Christ Church Summerfield is being prepared and refreshed for growth.” What follows is from a paper Pete prepared some months ago which was received recently at the St John’s PCC:
Christ Church Summerfield
My initial idea was to make known our context and vision to St John’s and then ask for 20-25 people who discerned (with me and Nigel) a sense of calling to CCS, especially perhaps those who live nearer to CCS in any case. We discussed this as a PCC and some valuable things came out of the discussion:
- Asking for a specific number of people could be rather artificial – numbers are secondary to a sense of calling which joiners should be able to express
- CCS needs to ‘be taken as it’s found’, i.e. joiners should be able to embrace CCS for what we are (understanding our particular needs) as well as seeing what we could become
- We would need to work hard at integration and ensure that there is no sense of ‘take-over’ if quite a sizeable group came
- We would need those who come to be prepared to serve within the less glamorous and more practical areas of church life
- There should be a sense (as well as anyone can know it) of a long-term commitment before people ‘sign up’
- Potential new members should be invited to a community event as well as Sunday worship to get a flavour of the local context.
We would really like to welcome all-comers! But these are our particular needs:
- Those who can embrace the social, economic and ethnic diversity of this part of B16
- People in their 20’s and early 30’s (some of whom would be good role-models for our growing number of older children and teens)
- People in their 50’s and 60’s with experience, time and energy, and wisdom (we have very few ‘young retireds’)
- Experienced musicians
- Kids leaders and youth leaders
- Those with a heart for ministry amongst older people
- Practical and servant-hearted people
- Those with an interest in developing young adult ministry (including students – there is a fair amount of student housing locally, including foreign students who are here to learn English)
If you sense this is something you want to explore the next steps are:
- Start to pray about this NOW – and discuss it with other church family members who know you well.
- Please let Nigel or Antony know this is in your thinking and praying; at the same time IF you are actively involved in a ministry role at St John’s currently email the ministry head eg worship> Marcus, youth work > Jon, children’s groups> Tim, C-group MNet and Talk Together leaders > Ruth, ministry with older people> Catriona, Toddlers > Beccy, , etc so that we can start to take stock of the planning issues as part of the internal processes and implications for St John’s.
- Come to a meeting with Nigel and Pete at St John’s on Thursday 10th May from 7.30pm – for those sensing this may be God calling, wanting to explore and pursue this actively, subsequent meetings will be at CCS
- Hold in your thinking and praying the possibility of making the transfer from September 2012 onwards.
We live in exciting times! This proposal is released with the blessing of Bishop Andrew; I believe this vision will catch the wind of the Spirit across the church family.
Nigel di Castiglione