An article for January editions of parish magazines from the Archdeacon of Dudley, Nikki Groarke.
Whether you are the sort to make new year’s resolutions or not, January is certainly a good time to reflect on what the year ahead might hold, to refocus on our priorities, both personally and as churches together. Having set priorities as a diocese, mapped out a plan for the rest of the decade, it may feel unnecessary to revisit them. However, as someone reminded me when I spoke recently of our ‘nine-year plan’, we are now already two years in. There are only seven years left to achieve all we set out to accomplish by 2030, which is a challenging thought!
As a diocese, over those seven years we aim to
- Double the number of children and young people worshipping in our churches.
- Create 100 new worshipping communities offering a range of ways for people to come to faith and worship God. (eg Forest Church / Café Church / Walking Church).
- Invest in the renewal of around a dozen churches to ensure that each major area of population has at least one church with 150 people attending weekly, enabling them to support other local churches.
- Underpin these by investing in our clergy and lay leaders, providing training and development opportunities to enable them to grow and feel supported and equipped for mission.
If your church hasn’t yet identified priorities to focus on, it may be helpful to do some thinking around some of these. Most of our churches could benefit from engaging more with children and young people, and many could start a new worshipping community. If you want to grow and be better equipped for mission, why not explore the training and development opportunities on offer to help with this as one of your personal new year’s resolutions, and encourage others to do the same?
Many churches are working with a Mission Accompanier to help discern what their priorities locally might be, and there is still opportunity to sign up to the scheme, if you haven’t yet started on a journey together towards the formation of a Health and Sustainability Plan.
And of course, in addition to that, we can all make some resolutions about our own personal well-being, making space to do the things which will help us to flourish and be content. That may be about committing to more time with family and friends, getting out into the fresh air more frequently, taking steps to be more environmentally friendly, or, in my case, running a marathon!
Whatever you resolve and prioritise, I pray that you will join me in fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, … so that you will not grow weary and lose heart, (Hebrews 12:2-3), and that 2024 will be a year of blessing for you.