Message from The Bishop

Diocesan Synod 18 October 2014

The Bishop of Blackburn

Where are we heading?

Having done a great deal of listening and learning during my first year as Bishop of Blackburn, including listening to the outcome of the Reshaping Ministry for Mission conversations,  I believe that the time has come to lay out a vision. My hope is that this will become our shared vision, and that it will give us a clear sense of direction over the 12 years to 2026 – the hundredth birthday of the Diocese.  I am convinced that we need to embark on radical change. We need to reinvent ourselves for the 21st Century.  Anything less will leave us to wither away (rather like the once mighty Lancashire cotton industry).  A few tweaks and adjustments will not suffice.  The proposed vision is summed up in the statement Healthy Churches Transforming Communities.  What makes for a healthy church? Imagine one in which the congregation

  • Are wholehearted disciples, living Christ-like lives in healthy fellowship with each other;
  • Take the biblical revelation seriously;Meet together for prayer;
  • Support purposeful and focussed leadership;
  • Promote children’s and youth work;
  • Are flexible about patterns of worship including our celebration of the Eucharist and are good at welcoming visitors;
  • Make the most of the opportunity of baptism preparation and follow-up;
  • Plan to grow new congregations;
  • Engage in meeting the needs of the community;
  • Work collaboratively with neighbouring churches;
  • Unashamedly seek to bring others to faith in Christ;
  • Provide an income that meets expenditure;

Imagine a healthy church that attracts rather than drives people away and so transforms the communities where we live….  How might we re-invent ourselves to become that sort of healthy church, transforming
communities?

  • Renew our understanding of being disciples of Jesus;
  • Return to the Gospel of the Scriptures;
  • Regain a ministry of intercession;
  • Re-equip our lay and ordained leaders for today’s missional context;
  • Reinvest heavily in youth and children’s ministry;
  • Rethink our service patterns;
  • Revamp our baptism preparation and follow-up;
  • Reproduce congregations;
  • Respond to the needs of and make a difference to the local community;
  • Redraw our deanery maps;
  • Recover confidence in the Gospel for the urgency of evangelism;
  • Release the necessary funds for mission

What happens next?

Today is a chance to hear the vision and have an initial conversation.  Over the next three months I would ask that you think and pray about it.  Send your observations in to vision@blackburn.anglican.org.  With my leadership team I will reflect on those observations and refine the vision.  I will then bring it to Diocesan Synod in January 2015 for debate and decision by us together, the bishop in synod.  After that there will be plenty of work to be done on sharing the vision around the deaneries and parishes and on how it can be implemented in practice.

+Julian
October 2014

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