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Partnership for Missional Church

Partnership for Missional Church (PMC) can re-awaken our ability to notice God in our lives and in our history, in people and places, in what is happening around us; our ability to notice where God is and what God is doing. In short, PMC can re-sensitize us to God, when and where we need it.

In March 2015 Bishop Andrew asked the Parish of Caversham, Thameside and Mapledurham to become part of the Berkshire Pilot for Partnership for Missional Church or PMC along with about 10 other benefices. PMC is not designed to provoke drastic and immediate changes in the way we do things but to allow us to listen more closely to what God is calling us to do in a gradual way, to nurture our faith and enhance our Christian community.

It is a lay-led programme with spiritual support from our clergy. It is not a 6 week wonder; it is programmed to run for 3 years. In line with our mission statement PMC is inclusive, i.e. it embraces everyone and, God willing, it will also be generous and life-giving.

Some people will be a little fearful that PMC, like a new broom, will sweep away everything that we hold dear. That is not what it is all about. It is about finding out the good things that work and the not-so-good that don’t so that we can do what we are doing better, not throw it out.

Read more about year one… and year two…

Year three

What does God want us to be up to?

Firstly the mission innovation team (MIT).

At the end of 2017 the MIT were preparing to launch pledge cards for the ‘Caversham Champions to end loneliness’ campaign in conjunction with Reading Voluntary Action. The initial launch was on 25 January 2018 at the service for Christian Unity at St Peter’s and the credit card sized cards were placed in all five churches, the three from CTM parish and Caversham Heights Methodist and Gosbrook Road Methodist Churches and also in Caversham library. The cards were also promoted at the Beanpole Day in Caversham Court, at an event at the Weller Centre and at the CTM parish fete also in Caversham Court.

People are invited to take a card, either one already with a pledge or a blank one for their own ideas, for example:

I resolve to offer to accompany someone to a film, concert, club or garden centre etc
I resolve to acknowledge streetpeople, even if I don’t give them anything.
I resolve to start a conversation with someone I wouldn’t normally talk to.

‘Coffee Companions’ has also been started and is currently an assigned hour on Tuesdays at the 3Cs café at St John’s when anyone can go for coffee and be welcomed to talk to anyone else. This has been supported by members of the Baptist Church and the WI.

We are hoping to roll out ‘Chat Mats’ (drinks coasters) across Caversham. On one side there is an invitation to chat and on the flipside an indication that the owner is happy on their own. More community partners are becoming interested in being a part of both the pledge card scheme and coffee companions.

The PMC steering team has been ‘Focusing’ and considering ‘What is God calling our congregation to be and to do?’

On 27 January a combined group of PCC, CLTs and PMC teams had an away day to start to find a vision for our future through PMC (missional vocation statement in PMC-speak) and to take up the challenge from Bishop Steven to become more Christ-like, the vision for our parish life. After much discussion throughout the parish in the past few months we have chosen ‘Becoming a Christ-like community’ as our combined vision.

On 12 March we ‘dwelt in the word’ during the main morning services in all three churches. This we perceived was a successful experience. While most people wanted to participate there was no pressure on those who didn’t want to and they were able to sit quietly, prayer, observe as they wished.

On 21 April the PMC steering team and the MIT held a parish event morning at St John’s entitled ‘WHAT DOES GOD WANT US TO BE UP TO?’ the aim being to ascertain people’s opinions of what we had achieved so far with the PMC process and where they thought we should be heading now. About 30 people engaged in lively discussion on the impact or otherwise of the six spiritual disciplines or holy habits that we have encountered through the PMC process, for instance Hospitality and Announcing the Kingdom. Interestingly the habit which was considered to have had the greatest impact is dwelling in the word ‘study of scripture underpins everything’. There were several positive comments about PMC bringing the three churches closer together. ‘Gradually people are becoming more confident and willing to share’. ‘PMC as a whole makes a difference’. As for the future it was generally felt that the disciplines overlap with one another and that focus for missional action embraces them all. They all relate to the community.

We considered the then proposed vision for our parish of ‘Becoming a Christ-like community’ and what that means to us. While there were a couple of people who were not comfortable with it the majority felt it a positive statement with a sense of movement with the word ‘becoming’. Naming Christ is important and embracing change in the church and community which are inextricably interlinked.
We also went on a ‘balloon ride’ meditation to envisage what our churches, parish and community would look like in five years’ time. These ideas have now been drawn into a ‘vision for embodiment’ statement otherwise known as a way of putting our vision statement into practice. There was a general sense of the importance of community, we wanted to be more outward looking while maintaining the good practices that we have within our churches and traditions. Both the missional vocation statement and the vision for embodiment are currently being put into a leaflet for general circulation.

We are now starting to put down something of a framework which will support us now that the official PMC instruction has finished and we are heading into God’s preferred and promised future not exactly on our own but without regular top-ups of advice. We are formulating a 3 – 5 year plan which needs to be missional.

Mission/Missional? Mission is doing things for other people with things that we think they need, missional is more acknowledging and facilitating what the world outside the church needs, answering their needs not deciding for them.