Mission Development Minister Rev. Maggie de Leeuw of Far North Coast Presbytery, sought support from Rev. Jan Reeve, who is the Consultation Coordinator of the Mission & Property Project Team in finding resources and support for Life and Witness Consultations in May 2017. What follows are Maggie’s reflections on the way this work has energised and given hope for the mission and ministry of congregations in the Far North Coast of NSW.
The resources and support for Life and Witness consultations have been a God given tool in the life of our Presbytery. We have completed just over half of the congregation consultations to date. Each of the congregations have responded in a very positive way to the consultations and embraced the ongoing journey that has resulted from participating in the consultations.
The gathering of data regarding the activities of the congregation, including any missional aspects into the wider community, and having a clearer understanding of how the church council and other leader’s councils are functioning, together with an overview of where their time, finances and focus are directed, has helped to create a picture of the spiritual life and witness of the congregation, in light of her call to go and make disciples.
The anonymous member surveys have been invaluable in the process, as they have helped to inform the direction of the consultation discussions with the leaders, opening up areas for exploration that otherwise may not have taken place.
The resources enabled us to grasp the hopes and dreams for the future of the congregations, but also helped to identify the obstacles that were preventing the congregations from actualising their hearts desire to move forward in their spiritual life and witness.
This has led to opportunities for the Presbytery to engage in workshops with the leaders of the congregations on areas of leadership, mission and spiritual development. It has created opportunities to lead special services of healing and reconciliation.
In some cases, it has helped smaller congregations to explore combining together, to share their resources as one, rather then struggling on as separate congregations. This is allowing for new expressions in ministry.
It has helped to clarify and bring into focus the central call of the Gospel — the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, and what that looks like.
Jesus clearly said that He will build His church! However, as members of His church we have not always recognised our need for intentionality in our relationship with Jesus and how to live out the Great Commission. In response to this recognition, our Presbytery, in addition to the workshops, has introduced a tool called EvangelismSHIFT, which is helping to create a clear understanding of being a ‘sent’ people and how to live out that mandate with intentionality in practical ways. This tool together with the resources and support for Life and Witness Consultations, and the centrality of Christ in the hearts of the ministry agents of the Far North Coast Presbytery, are enabling the Presbytery to go through a paradigm shift from ‘doing’ church, to becoming Kingdom builders. A people with vision and purpose for the mission of God.
We still have a long way to go, but as a Presbytery we can sense a palpable stirring of renewed life and witness of the Spirit taking place in our midst, that is creating a new energy and a real sense of hope for the future. I would highly recommend the Life and Witness Consultations throughout our Synod, to gauge the pulse of the church and recognise the Spirit’s life-giving steps towards becoming a Kingdom-building people.
Rev. Maggie De Leeuw
For information on these resources contact Jan Reeve on firstname.lastname@example.org