Planning for the next three years @acnbchurch got underway on Saturday with a ‘Vision Day’ at All Saints attended by more than 35 people from across our four churches.
What happened on the day?
The day included elements looking at our roots, and context as well as the good things going on now and the way all these shape the churches cultures. This information was drawn together in a visually appealing metaphor of a ‘culture tree’. The afternoon was taken up with facilitated sessions looking at challenges, intentionality, and opportunity.
Owned vision and planning to serve in Christ
We are part of Winchester Diocese and they want this process of envisioning and planning has to be owned by the people of the parish or group ministries (e.g. benefices). There are many reasons for that, but one is illustrated in this quote:
I have been worshipping there for over fifty years and I’m in actual fact on my eighth Vicar. I can’t remember all of them, but you know I’m on the eighth Vicar.
A big thank you to everyone who attended the vision day from the PCC’s of each parish and the whole ministry time. Everyone worked hard and creatively and your contributions have made for a much more comprehensive understanding of where we are and what we hope for.
The commitment and consistent hopefulness in the contributions is a huge blessing to the team working on the mapping project. It was very encouraging to hear all the good things happening and to see them in one place -
- from schools work at Ampfield, and ‘integrated’ lent lunches
- to craft clubs in North Baddesley and the continuing work of t-cup and the many other service projects.
- the persistence of the congregation at Chilworth and their understanding of the issues facing them,
- the growth and hope at St John the Baptist after the Poppy Cascade and the plans to make more of the designation as a Small Pilgrim Place
What happens now?
We’ve just finished transcribing some of the contributions and are looking at the hopes and fears expressed, and the way we talk about our relationships with one another and the communities we serve. Over the weekend we will image and transcribe every contribution to the culture tree and from flip charts and use those to contribute to a matrix that will inform the work of the Benefice Mapping group.
Between now and the autumn when this planning process will be complete the team will share more, and ask more questions from time to time.
Not over stressing systems
The overriding sense that came out of the day was how willing people were to serve in order to participate in all the good things God is doing in our communities. Balancing this with imitations of small congregations, albeit congregations wanting to grow, and changing communities were clear. Revd Victoria summed the challenge up well : ‘we have very diverse communities so we are looking together to see how we can help each other in our different churches and planning for the future. So it’s looking at those things which we do really well and being more intentional about them perhaps and looking at how what we already do well can benefit our communities around us’
The video interview is also available at
So Victoria, we are having a great day here at All Saints, Can you tell me what is going on here today.
Yup, today we are gathering together as a Benefice, Four churches, three parishes, are all coming together and we are having a vision day. We are starting our planning for our Benefice Mission Action Plan and this is the very start of it. So we’ve started looking at our history, all the shoots that make us grow, things that are encouraging us and that’s what we’ve been working on this morning.
And why are we doing that as a Benefice?
We’re doing it as a Benefice because we work very well as churches together in this Benefice. We’ve been a Benefice now, for probably about ten years - Before I was here and we’ve been sharing services over the years and particularly over the last three or four years we’ve really been coming together and worshipping together so why would we do separate Parish Mission Action Plans when we are all friends, all Christians together, and we work very well together even though our four churches are very different
Can you tell me what is a ‘Mission Action Plan’
A Mission Action Plan is our looking forward. We can’t just turn up on a Sunday and we have a great time together and we love to worship God together; But what is God actually asking us to do in this place. Why are we together as churches? And what does our community around us need from us. And what can we be doing to support our communities? And we have very diverse communities so we are looking together to see how we can help each other in our different churches and planning for the future. So it’s looking at those things which we do really well and being more intentional about them perhaps and looking at how what we already do well can benefit our communities around us
Victoria, what do you hope to achieve from today?
Um I’m the foremost thing that is we will go home feeling great. Feeling really that God is with us and His Spirit is with us and we all want to get up and go. Um we’re very much like that as a community of churches together anyway, um but I’m hoping that we will really take that home, but I’m hoping that we can think about those really excellent things we do do that … that does involve our community, but just looking a bit more closely about what God might be asking us to do in those activities we already do.