Our Vision

The Church of England has very recently embarked on a programme of ‘Reform & Renewal’:

Renewal & Reform is an ambitious programme of work, which seeks to provide a narrative of hope to the Church of England in the 21st century. It is rooted in a sense of Biblical hope and an understanding of Christ's call to us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers into the harvest field.

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out his workers into his harvest field. Luke 10:2

Renewal & Reform aims to build on the 3 goals articulated by General Synod in 2010 to:

  • Contribute as the national church to the common good

  • Facilitate the growth of the church in numbers and depth of discipleship

  • Re-imagine the church's ministry

In doing so it looks specifically to address some of the deep-rooted missional challenges facing the Church of England. And it prayerfully hopes to see a growing church as fruit of all these labours, growth understood in its fullest sense.

Renewal & Reform seeks to build on the excellent work already taking place across the church to articulate a hopeful future for our churches and, more particularly, the communities we serve. But it doesn't seek to duck the serious challenges we face but rather is based on a realistic assessment of where we are and how we might respond.

And one of the clear and intended outcomes of this work is to reverse the decline of the Church of England so that we become a growing church, in every region and for every generation; a church open to and for everyone in England, building up the Body of Christ and working for the common good; a confident church, equipping new generations of leaders, ordained and lay, for ministry and mission.

The Diocese of Liverpool has identified three areas which urgently need to be addressed if the Church and individual churches are to be sustainable in the future – ‘the urgent threefold challenge of ageing money, broken buildings and retiring clergy’.

"We have ageing congregations. The average age of our congregations is 61, significantly higher than the population’s average age of 48. This leads to ageing money. Our churches rely heavily on giving that is concentrated within this older generation. Our clergy are retiring. 40% will retire in the next 10 years. It takes about 8 years from the first expression of interest about ordination to licensing a priest into his or her first incumbency to replace those who are retiring. So, we must act now.” Bishop Richard Blackburn

This are the issues we need to address, along with nearly every church in the country.

We need to grow as a church. Living things grow. We need to grow…wider (into the community), younger, and wiser (drawing on the wisdom of the elderly).

Our Priorities

  1. Prayer & Worship – our corporate devotional life

This must come first. A mistake made by many churches is to put mission before worship. Mission flows out of the worshipping life of the church.

We need to continue to encourage personal and corporate prayer. We need to be praying intentionally - in other words, like we expect God to answer our prayers and do great things among us.

To use a term from the retail industry, our Sunday worship services are our shop window. Why would people want to join our church community, if they don’t enjoy what they see on a Sunday?

Our aim is to become more open, accessible, joyful, and meaningful – for all who come.

  1. Mission

Articulating a clear vision for the church’s mission:

  • Who we are
  • What we believe
  • And why what we believe is important – for everyone

One major focus will be on our young families.

  1. Care & Compassion

At St Michael’s we are already a very caring & compassionate church. Again, we need to build on these strengths, expanding our pastoral work & team, and looking for new ways of connecting pastorally with the wider community.

In doing so we will foster a ‘culture of generosity’.

Ultimately, it’s not about us. It’s about Jesus and His Kingdom.

It was a former Archbishop, William Temple, who said, "The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members."

At St Michael’s, we exist to reach out to the people and community around us in the love of Jesus and with His Gospel. That is our primary mission and purpose.

Recently we have changed our main entrance from the side door to the front door. This is significant, I believe. Rob likes to keep the front door open during services, which is great, even when there are youths making a noise outside, as there was a few Sunday’s back.

We want to be known as a church with an open front door.

As part of my induction service, I had to open the front door of the church (an ancient ritual). When we got there, the door wouldn’t budge. It had to be forced open. It was a joint effort. I couldn’t do it on my own. It took a number of us to force the door open. This too is significant.

We can say that we want to open the door, but it’s not always easy to do so.

Sometimes there are obstacles. Barriers. We have to work together, and to put some effort in.

I invite you – all of us – to join with me in opening wide the doors of St Michael’s over the coming year.

May we do it for the Glory of God.

 

Revd. Keith Hitchman, June 2017