Mission Action Plan
All parishes in the Diocese of Bath & Wells are encouraged to have a Mission Action Plan. Our plan, or MAP as it is called, seeks to set out our current priorities for mission and ministry as a parish, founded on an understanding of who we are as a church, and the role that God calls us into as we serve our local area in his name. The MAP is normally reviewed and amended each year.
As we begin to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, we recognise that we will be heading into new territory as a community. As a church we will be meeting in September 2021 to reflect on these things prayerfully, and to write a new MAP for these times.
ST ANDREW’S MISSION ACTION PLAN 2020
a. Promote work with young people in the 14-18 age range by
• A short course in Christian basics, a foundation for
• A youth drop-in facility
b. Develop our ministry to Baptism families from first enquiry, preparation for and at the service, and by keeping in touch.
c. Continue to engage with the Diocesan, “Everyday Faith,” initiative to help us grow and support each other in faith.
a. Continue to improve the financial performance of the parish by careful stewardship.
b. Improve our reporting of the financial performance of the parish so that we all know what’s needed and why.
3. NEW ST ANDREW’S
a. Complete the funding required for Phase 1A (additional toilets) and undertake detailed planning for Phase 1B (improvements to Narthex and Servery)
It doesn’t seem a year since I introduced our Mission Action Plan for 2019, and yet so much has happened in that time.
Not everything we set out to do in 2019 was achieved. That’s always the way, and in any case plans must be organic, ready to change as circumstances require. Our work trying to improve our finances changed direction when the Diocese offered some detailed help in finding a way forward. There is a way to go but we have made some progress. We have worked on our link with St Andrew’s School and a Welcome Pack for new households in the area will come on stream early in the New Year. Much work has been done by the New St Andrew’s Group. Getting the money in has been tough, but with grant funding and your generosity, we are now only around £10,000 short of the total needed for new toilet block.
Some of these actions are ongoing. Some we need to lay aside for now so that we meet the needs of today and not last year, although most of that we will come back to in the future.
Remember that a Mission Action Plan is the means by which a PCC says to itself, and to the church membership, “This is what we believe God is calling us to focus on in the coming year.”
Of course, the usual round of worship, outreach, fund raising, maintenance and pastoral care still goes on. But beyond that, and in terms of how we go about that, there are certain things to which we are going to give priority in terms of time, energy and resources.
It is diocesan policy that every parish has a Mission Action Plan, and we have to submit a copy to the Area Dean each year.
Last year we focussed on our recently refreshed strapline, “Reaching lives for change and hope.” This year we decided to take stock and see where God was leading next, based on that as a foundation.
It’s always a bad idea to start a discussion with a large group with a blank sheet of paper. So the Ministry Team and the Standing Committee gave their perspective as a pump primer for the day we had in church on Saturday.
It was a good morning and I am grateful to all who gave up their time to attend and supplied a fulsome lunch! We spent a little time thinking about the nature of strategic planning – another way of expressing the task we had come to do. The meeting tested and then approved three broad areas for this year’s Mission Action Plan…
• New St Andrew’s
There followed three presentations addressing some “What if?” thinking: what if our young people really wanted to grow their faith: what if we no longer had to worry about the resources we needed to do work; and, what if our buildings could be a resource for good in our local community. The idea was to dream a dream and then reflect on how we might get there.
The morning concluded by developing those themes and seeing what else we might include that felt urgent. This year we wanted a simpler plan so we restricted ourselves to three areas and up to two actions (projects) in each so that we didn’t take on too much, although in the end, “Discipleship” took a spare action not needed by another area!
Discipleship means following and learning. In our case, following and learning from Jesus. Katy and Sue Lodge will be working on a short Christian basics course for the 14-18 age range, shared with neighbouring churches, with the eventual hope of being able to hold a regular drop-in facility for that age group here in St Andrew’s. Service to that age group is a major gap in our provision and it will be good to see some progress in this area.
Despite a declining trend elsewhere, St Andrew’s continues to have a thriving Baptism ministry. Now, I know there are those who say that we never see the families again after they come, but as part of the Church of England we have a legal obligation to meet their need, and the wasted opportunity (not to mention the hurt) that would arise if we didn’t work on this ministry would be huge. Katy and I have recently done some training in this area provided by the Church of England’s Life Events Project, and we look forward to working with (hopefully) an expanded lay team to prepare the families, give them our best on the day and then keep in touch.
But discipleship is something that all of us are called into. Recently, the Church of England, enthusiastically backed by our Diocese, have offered some useful ways into thinking about what it has called, “Everyday Faith.” Some of this is about growing awareness of each other’s daily lives and what our faith means to us in those, as demonstrated by the occasional, “This Time Tomorrow” interview at the end of the Parish Eucharist, which I hope we will be able to continue. It is also about giving the average congregation member confidence in knowing and sharing their faith against a background of a very professionalised Church. It’s not given to everyone to be an evangelist but all of us need to grow in prayer and how it may be used to make a real difference, and in understanding of what we believe.
The theme of Thanksgiving is about money and resources, and for a very good reason. The local Church is no mere club, nor a party, nor even simply a movement to promote an idea. It is God’s Church founded on his grace and love. What we give to God’s work in time, talents and treasure is not just a donation made out the goodness of our hearts, but as a deeply thankful response to all that God has given us in Christ out of the goodness of his heart. That is not to decry the generosity that all of you, in different ways, provide, but a reminder of the spiritual reasons – theology if you like – by which we give. Look at it that way, and no one need worry about how much they are able to give – that will always vary with our means – but how we give – the attitude with which we do so. We continue to need to carefully address the difficulties with our day-to-day finances here at St Andrew’s, but we feel we would all benefit from some enhanced communication on what is needed, why and how it is spent.
Finally, some have questioned whether New St Andrew’s need appear on the Mission Action Plan such is the long term nature of the project. While I see the reasoning, we nevertheless wanted to name the part of the scheme on which we are focussing now as a stated priority, to make sure it gets the attention and energy it needs. It may seem little has changed from last year’s aims in this area, but don’t forget all the hard work that has been done – and is being done – to raise the not inconsiderable sum that we need for this first phase.
We believe, with everyone’s help, our Mission Action Plan for 2020 will help us to fulfil our calling to reach lives for change and hope in the name of Jesus Christ. To do this we need to be spiritually fit, to be growing in our faith and confident in God’s love as something we cannot help but share with the community around us, as together we live and tell the story of Jesus.
I commend these plans to you today. Please keep them in the forefront of your prayers and see where it is possible for you to join in.