Interim Vision (Three Cultural Priorities)

  What is proposed is a simple and workable interim vision for church. Below you will read about three cultural priorities (Loving, Releasing and Inviting) that the leadership team believe are highly important and that God is calling us to focus on in the months to come.

1  Loving

I believe that God wants us to prioritise loving each other really well. The greatest commandments Jesus gave us, as found in Matthew 22:37-39, tell us to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’”. We also read in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love is of paramount importance. Before structure and procedures, ideas and ministry, we are called to love each other. As we read in 1 Corinthians 13 (paraphrased) If we don’t love, everything else simply doesn’t matter. Loving is a choice, sometimes not an easy one, but we are called to it for the sake of God’s Kingdom. It is a part of discipleship. It is made much easier when we understand each other, like each other and grow genuine feelings of affection. We can influence these things be creating environments where relationships can flourish. For this next season, we think it is important that we spend time with each other; getting to know, like and appreciate each other. For these reasons, we are setting up a social events team that encourages us to enjoy each other’s company. Events might include:
  • Hospitality Sundays – where we invite others into our homes for Sunday lunch
  • Sunday bring and share lunches – In due time, when restrictions have further lifted and we have use of the lower hall
  • Events evenings – holding an evening event or two just to socialise and have fun
  • Church weekend away – focused on being a loving church family
  • Church day trip – potentially next summer
Next steps to include:
  • Loving each other to be included within our teaching on Sundays and within our small groups
  • Set up a range of events as above and encourage participation
  • The leadership to make time to love those who are still hurting from the last season and potentially have conversations with them to allow them to be heard, understood and helped. There is a task ahead to love the scattered sheep (those not currently attending) back into the flock

2 Releasing

We are a very blessed church with much gifting and ability. God has been so good to us in this way. Having said this, I believe that there is much yet to be released. We know that Christ gave ‘the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’. (Ephesians 4:11-13) Our understanding of Scripture and our ecclesiology calls us to be a Priesthood of all Believers, all involved in serving God together as more than the sum of our parts. We read, ‘You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession’. (1 Peter 2:9) We are also ‘the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it’. (1 Corinthians 12:27) We know this and to some extent we do this but I believe God is calling us to release the gifting He has given to the church here at St Peter’s further for our building up and restoration. At one stage we had four ministers and a larger staff team than we currently do. The effects of this were in some ways positive, being able to invest deeply in our ministries but I also think there were consequences. We may have professionalised ministry too much resulting in some members not serving because we employed people to do the work and reduced the number of our congregation released into ministry. One of the key requirements of leadership for the next season is to release and equip all those who call St Peter’s their spiritual home into effective ministry that blesses them, builds up the church and glorifies God. Next steps to include: To do this, releasing gifting will be included within the teaching, both on Sundays and within our small group ministry, to help people identify their gifting and passion for serving God and be encouraged to take a risk and have a go. If people have something on their heart that they feel God has given to them to bless the church, the leadership will back them whenever possible and create environments of high accountability and low control where individuals are released and ministry is led by the Spirit.

3 Inviting

We must not forget that we are called into the Mission of God and are commissioned people to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’. (Matthew 28:19-20) Although this next season may be a time of focus in rebuilding the church, which will cause us to look internally at our people and processes, part of our rebuilding must also be discipleship that leads to God adding to our number. (Acts 2:47) We believe we are called to develop a culture of invitation where we naturally invite people to connect with God and with our activities as a church. Although we already do this to some extent – we have some great natural evangelists who find this easy – at times we have struggled to be effective in this area. For many, inviting people to church activities isn’t natural or easy and courage is needed. Of course, to be able to invite someone, you first need to have a service or activity to invite them to connect with. For the last season, this has been incredibly restricted as we’ve suspended many of our normal range of activities. Recently, this has changed and we can move forward in this area. Our activities must intentionally point people to Jesus. As a church, we have done incredibly well for years at gathering people to our building but the numbers coming to faith have been limited. For several years, we have regularly had more than a thousand people a week through our doors and the vaccination centre has increased these numbers massively. We must ask ourselves how many of these people are actually being intentionally pointed towards Jesus? We have done well at times but we believe that God is calling us to do more in this area as a whole church and not rely on a few individuals. Three of our new church leaders, Alison, Kim and Lisa, have begun to look at our World Mission and Social Action teams and also our local mission ministries. They are beginning a process of reviewing our missional landscape and are considering how, as a church, we might release our evangelists and learn from them, invitation being one of the skills we can learn. What to do:
  • Take a look into our missional landscape
  • Release and learn from our evangelists
  • Focus on invitation to be in the teaching on Sundays and within our small groups
  • Ensure we have a good range of ministries and events to which we can invite people
  • Ensure we look to GO (out) and make disciples on our mission front lines as well and expecting people to come to us
Interim Vision – Three Cultural Priorities.
PriorityKey verseFocusActivity
Loving John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.Prioritise loving each other really well•         Loving a teaching focus •         Developing a range of social events •         Making time for healing conversations
Releasing 1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.Prioritise releasing the full gifting of the church•         Releasing a teaching focus •         Being willing to take a risk and have a go •         Fostering a culture of high accountability low control
InvitingMatthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.Prioritise the development of a culture of invitation where we naturally invite people to connect with God and with our activities•         Inviting a teaching focus •         Looking into our missional landscape •         Releasing and learn from our evangelists •         Developing ministries and events to which we can invite people •         Ensuring we look to go out as well as expecting people to come to us
  Andy Browning Acting Senior Minister For a pdf version of this SPBC Interim Vision Nov 2021