The Vision - Jesus: Full Life for ALL
You can listen to the vision here:
The church is the body of Jesus, we are his people, and he is the one others need to encounter. So often in church history we have made the well intentioned mistake of introducing people to an institution, a building or an event rather than the man himself – Jesus.
Jesus offers life in all its fullness.
What he did by living, dying and rising to life is to make it possible to live reconnected to people, God the Father and the world; life in all its fullness. This is the free gift from God that we have discovered and are discovering.
But there is more. This full life is for ALL people. Jesus spent his time hanging around with people from every walk of life. Jesus’ message and invitation was for everyone and it still is.
So I hope and pray that building on what has gone before and leaning into what God has in store we will be able become a church focused on Jesus, growing in full life and sharing that life with all. So all would know about and have the chance to encounter the person we follow. We summarise this with the phrase - Jesus: Full Life for ALL.
The Goal: 500 one by one
Living things grow and therefore churches grow.
So we have set ourselves a very specific goal for growth. Not because the numbers are important but because by thinking big it forces us to as sess all that we are doing and orientate it for the mission and Glory of God.
We believe there could be a church of 500 people at St Mags and that we need to achieve this one person at a time. “500 one by one”.
We would like that growth to be predominantly new Christians - although when any church grows there is always some transfer growth.
When we break “500 one by one” down we think it looks like this:
• 100 people at the 9am traditional communion
• 300 people at the 11am informal contemporary service
• 100 people at a new evening service that is youth friendly (but probably not a youth service)
If this church is to grow to 500 people that would mean an increase of approximately 250%.
It is recognized that as numbers grow the church’s dynamic will change. Rather than one family there will be many families. This will need to be monitored so that people, especially newcomers, are not lost. Growth to 500 has no fixed timescale, but will need to be reviewed regularly.
“500 one by one” may seem over ambitious but it is based on the simple vision that God has given us to reach out to all. God’s plans are ambitious; to head for anything less would be human.
As we have been listening to God and people so this plan has developed. The MAP is how we think we walk towards the goal of “500 one by one” and live the vision “Jesus, full life for all.” This document is a summary of the full detailed plan which is available for download here.
Mission Action Plan (MAP)
St Mary Magdalene PCC adopted the full version of “500 one by one” on 12th March 2012 ... The MAP is a living document and will grow and change over time.
Living things grow and it is important to nurture a healthy environment to encourage growth, but it also includes a willingness to embrace change.
The Principle of a Growing Church
God wants the church to grow!
Glorifying, Growing People, Going, Giving…
Context: A Town Centre Church
The Church building sits right at the heart of Torquay town and at the very bottom of the parish. In the immediate area we have:
• Town hall, Law courts, Connections, Job centre, Homeless centre, the start of ½ mile of shops
• All these represent a significant mission opportunity
The wider parish includes:
• Upton Park, Language Schools, Care Homes, Upton St James School.
The church has tried before to be the parish church for Upton but given the geography this has proved difficult. We have chosen at this time to focus on becoming a growing town centre church, so that life can overflow into the wider parish.
The Mission Community
A Mission Community is the Anglican Church in Devon’s way of organizing groups of local churches in mission. We are really pleased that St Mags is now a Mission Community with particular reference to the town centre (beyond our parish). It is a hugely significant that the wider church has recognized our role in mission in the town. We are committed to working with other Anglican churches and other churches and groups to extend the Kingdom of God in Torquay. Here are three of the key strategies that we will use.
Strategy 1: Worship that connects
In Acts 2 everyone heard the disciples in their own language. The diversity of languages that people speak is vast, by this we mean more than English. People speak formally and informally, visually and linear and much more. Because our worship also provides the biggest front door to the church our worship must be in a variety of languages that connects the widest possible group of people. Many churches opt to provide this diversity in the context of one service; we are trying to provide this diversity with a range of worship styles.
In Matthew 28 the disciples are sent to make disciples, “teaching them everything that I have commanded”. The people they encounter are moved from one place to another, one level of understanding to another, from not knowing or following Jesus to becoming his disciples. Our discipleship strategy aims to move people from the wider community right into the core of the church. The following diagram shows the journey that people travel.
Strategy 2: Discipleship that moves
Levels of involvement at St Mags
Community: those who do not yet attend
Crowd: those who attend something up to once a month
Congregation: those who regularly attend
Committed: those who attend termly Life Groups, serve and give
Core: those who lead groups, ministries and teams
So we will provide simple steps to help people move from the community to the core. Our primary tool for this is Life Groups.
Strategy 3: Outreach that draws
Outreach is primarily relational, in John 1:40-42 Andrew follows Jesus and the first thing he does is to draw in his brother. We need to encourage new Christians in their natural faith sharing and train those who have been Christians for a long time in the skills of witnessing and evangelism.
Secondly outreach is organised. So we should excel in events and communications that draw people and make the most of our location.
Thirdly, we are called to love our neighbours; this means we will seek to address the needs of the community. In this we need to get our hands dirty, not just hand over cash to professional care organisations. This mission loves people unconditionally (even in their response to the gospel), but it is also purposeful. When the opportunity arises we will not be afraid to point people to Christ allowing them to be drawn into the grace we have experienced.
So what specifically are we going to do?
We have a very detailed plan of almost 60 specific actions or projects most of which have some timescale attached. Some are further off and will need to be refined, clarified or reimagined as we get nearer delivery. See the full MAP for more details.
Glorifying: fix your eyes on Jesus in worship and prayer and bring this plan before him. The Church belongs to Jesus not us and by the power of his Holy Spirit she grows.
How can I get involved?
Growing: God is in the transformation business, one of the ways this happens is through small groups. Take responsibility for your walk with God and be part of a Life Group to help you grow.
Going: we are sent people. Mission is right at the heart of who we are. As people who are experiencing the grace of God, so we are to go and share God’s grace with others. The Church grows one by one as we go and share our faith with others.
Giving: We all have things that we can give in serving God. These include time, talents and resources. Some of the things in the plan will cost money, so your regular financial giving is really important. Part of the plan is to develop easy ways to help people to service, making it easier for you to play your part. You have a key part to play in the expansion of God kingdom.
Be ready for change and be ready to go and be ready to grow.
The great commission is clear, we are sent people whose task is to make disciples of all nations. We have a very specific town centre context in which we are working this out. This includes many social, faith and economic challenges. Our vision is focused on Jesus, and seeks full life for all.
We have the goal of becoming a church of 500 but this is done in little steps, one person at a time. In order to achieve this goal we have some principles, strategies, actions and things about character to be working on. All this is sensible planning but we also need to be prepared to be surprised. The Church is Christ’s body and is grown by his Spirit.
Our mission action plan will help us to get in step with the Holy Spirit but we must never forget the recurrent phrase in Acts, “the Lord added to their number”. Growing the church is what the Holy Spirit does; we have the joy joining in.
As we reach for “500 one by one” so we will see the wider community transformed as more people follow Jesus into full life and share him with all.
500 one by one summary
500 one by one full plan
500 one by one talk