Looking to the mesh

Well it’s gone cold again. But the energy levels are returning to something like normal. So what have I been doing?

Well, amazingly, for somebody in my position, I’ve been working on mission and letting the lead valleys look after themselves for a bit. And if they are in any state like the Blogstead roof, they will need a bit of looking after.

First of all, we’re doing a bit of between-tides maintenance on Casting the Net. You learn by doing – and we’ve been learning from our experience and from others like the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway who are shaping their own diocesan mission strategy. So, like Goldilocks, we realise that some of the mesh is too big and some is too small – and we’re searching for what is ‘just right’ That means some new defining of what we are trying to do and a look at the structures. More than ever, we recognise that ‘us trying to do things’ is not quite the same thing as spirit-shaped cultural change. So we’re taking a look at what that might mean.

Meanwhile I’ve also been part of a group working on what the Provincial Mission and Ministry Board has been calling a ‘Whole Church Mission and Ministry Policy.’ And this isn’t easy either. Sometimes it’s about asking what mission means in 2011 – sometimes it’s more functional – do we have a reason for what we do and is there a reason for doing something different? The ‘whole church’ tag interests me for this reason. I’ve learnt over the years that the church is expert at deflecting attempts to engender change. On a personal level, it exhausts you or it marginalises you or it makes you a bishop – the result is pretty much the same. But its best tactic is to make sure that everything is scattered about the church in such a way that there is no single place to which you can go and push. It’s like putting the treasures in a safe and handing the key to somebody who thinks it’s the key to something completely different.

Be that as it may, it seems to me that one of the real advantages about being a relatively small church like the SEC is that it is possible to shape a policy and hope that it might mean something. Others who are attempting to steer super tankers don’t have that excitement.


  1. Mission. I wonder if we’re not forever trying to reinvent the wheel and in our reinventing we keep avoiding the one thing that actually motivates and enables mission. We have the gospel of a crucified, risen Saviour. All sorts of activities might get people busy, might even get people in, but the gospel alone will transform people and bring them to life so that they will not only want to be on mission but will have that same gospel which transformed them. It seems to me that mission is a simple thing but because we have lost confidence in the gospel – and it follows that we have lost confidence in the God of the gospel – mission, rather than being the delight that we can’t refrain from, has become such hard and, too often, ineffectual work. Kym Smith

    1. Yes it becomes a ‘thing’ and a sort of end in itself when you don’t quite know what the end is. But I also think that it is fatally easy to get into ‘looking after the church’ mode – lots of things conspire to create that effect. My own feeling about what mission means is rooted in my time as a hospital chaplain – functioning without the institutional frameworks and baggage – just being with people at critical moments in their lives

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